Profile of a Senator March 2021

Meet Natalie Davis: Staff Senator and Research Initiatives Specialist, Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact (ORIEI)

Natalie Davis, her son Leo, and husband Stephen.

Roles: Primarily, I support the Vice President for Research, though I also provide support to our various offices and departments throughout. Overall, I help keep our day-to-day operations and initiatives running smoothly; as with most of us, this encompasses a number of duties and responsibilities. I love what I do, and I am consistently grateful to work with so many fabulous people! I enjoy seeing what the faculty and staff accomplish in research, and I’m glad to be part of this office and the larger Mason community.

Mason journey: I received my bachelor’s degree from Mason in Integrative Studies and held an internship my senior year with the Office of Admissions. This led me to realize how much I loved working in higher education. My first professional role at Mason was at INTO Mason, which was such an incredible experience. I have held two positions since then – one as Executive Assistant to the Provost, and now my current role, both of which have been tremendously rewarding. Overall, my time at Mason amounts to roughly 8.5 years, and I’m looking forward to many more!

COVID-19 transition: When COVID-19 first hit, I was serving in my previous role. I was assisting the Provost and our immediate team in any way possible, which especially included scheduling many meetings to prepare for what was to come and shifting and adjusting a lot of what we had on the calendar. It also included a lot of organizing and coordinating with my colleagues to ensure we had what we needed to transition to telework and responding to constituent concerns. At this same time, we were also preparing for the transition between our former provost and our current provost. It was a busy time, but manageable with so many excellent colleagues!

Staff support for research: I want to especially highlight all the wonderful staff and faculty who are part of research at Mason. Mason is one of the youngest universities (if not the youngest) selected by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as one of the top research universities in the country. While many of us working at Mason hear this often, it is a genuinely amazing achievement. Mason reported just over $220M in research for fiscal year 2020, a record high for the university. I want to give a shout-out to our staff throughout ORIEI, the units, and the university overall who do so much to support research at Mason. While we absolutely cannot perform research without our faculty, many staff also greatly contribute to making our research possible and supporting these endeavors. Especially in the era of COVID, there was so much our staff did to help support our faculty and ongoing research, and many processes that had to adapt quite quickly to keep things running smoothly. I’m really proud to work with such amazing people!

Best thing about working at Mason: There are so many possible answers to this question! I suppose if I had to choose one thing only, it would be the people (as so many before me have agreed!). Mason is what it is because of the wonderful staff, faculty, and students. I loved my time as a student, and I have greatly enjoyed every role I have served in professionally, and it’s all credit to the amazing people who are part of the Mason community and the environment we have all helped shape. I especially love that I have learned so much from those around me, and the diversity that Mason has.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: Should I say again that I just really love Mason? But because of that, while there are so many positives to working here and my experiences have overall been really great, I know that there are also things we can improve! I’ve always been passionate about making a difference where I can, and I believe serving on Staff Senate is a great place to do just that. I especially love finding ways to appreciate and recognize our staff, and to help advocate for an even better Mason. It’s really just an honor to be part of making a positive impact for our community!

Role model: A fun fact is that one of the people I most admire in all of history is William Wilberforce. The work he did for social justice (which tremendously includes ending the slave trade in England, but also many other things) astounds me. There is so much that we can contribute to our own communities and those around us if we only try. Wilberforce may have spearheaded many movements and initiatives, but he had many standing alongside him. In whatever role it may be, we all have a chance to contribute to creating a better world.

At the end of the day: I am a full-time working mother (to my spunky 2-year-old son), a wife, and a Christian. I’m incredibly passionate about peacebuilding, and I hope to bring some of these principles into the work I do at Mason and on Staff Senate. I look forward to serving our staff and helping make Mason even better than it already is. I am grateful for the education, flexibility, kind colleagues, learning opportunities, and career path that Mason has provided me and I look forward to “giving back” through my work here.