The System Dynamics Society Selects Its Next Executive Director 


Mark Nelson, PhD, MBA, CAE

Exciting News

The Policy Council of the System Dynamics Society is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Mark Nelson as the next Executive Director of the Society. Dr. Nelson will succeed Roberta L. Spencer, who will be retiring September 1, 2018 after 20 years of service to the Society. 

The System Dynamics Society conducted an extensive Executive Director search to find its next professional staff leader. The Search Committee was comprised of System Dynamics leaders from across the world. You will find more about the Search Committee below. The candidate pool was a strong one. 30 international candidates applied for the position and 4 finalists were interviewed. 

Mark is a nationally-known and proven association executive, who has previously served as Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association, Chief Information Officer of the National Association of College Stores, and Co-Founder and Vice President of NACS Media Solutions/IndiCo. 

“We are excited about the appointment of Dr. Mark Nelson as the next Executive Director of the System Dynamics Society. His expertise and experience in association management, combined with that of our partners at Capitol Hill Management Services, will catalyze growth and impact going forward,” states Society President Ignacio Martinez-Moyano.  

Mark Nelson states: "Serving as the next Executive Director for the System Dynamics Society provides a great opportunity for me to blend passion with purpose. I look forward to engaging with many members to listen to your stories, understand your passion for System Dynamics, and work together to continue growing the Society and fulfilling its global mission. I hope to meet many of you at the Annual Conference in Iceland."

The New Executive Director 

Mark is a creative and change-agile executive, trusted community partner and respected thought leader who looks forward to working with the Policy Council, Staff, volunteers, members and supporters in taking the Society to new levels of achievement and sustained growth. 

Mark holds a PhD in Information Science and MBA from the University at Albany. He also holds a BS in Computer Science from St. Michael’s College. He is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), and member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Empire State Society of Association Executives. 

Learning About the SDS & Preparing for the Future

Mark will begin his relationship with the System Dynamics Society on July 1, 2018. For the months of July and August, he will be meeting with Society leaders, outgoing Executive Director Roberta Spencer, and SDS Staff to learn about the Society’s operations, needs, policies and history. 

Mark will also be meeting with the Society’s new association management partner, Capitol Hill Management Services, to ensure the set-up of the Society’s new office and operations. 

Mark looks forward to attending the ISDC in Reykjavik to meet with the Policy Council, experience the conference, and meet our members and supporters from across the world. 

The formal “passing of the torch” from Roberta Spencer to Mark Nelson will take place on September 1, 2018, when Mark assumes operational responsibility and authority for the Society.  Roberta Spencer, starting September 1, 2018, will engage on a part-time basis, on development of special projects for the Society.    

The Society will have a formal introduction of the new Executive Director
and a celebration and retrospective of Roberta Spencer’s SDS career
at the end of summer.
Please watch for this special edition of the Society Newsletter.    

The Policy Council Thanks
the Executive Director Search Committee for Its Service

With this initial announcement of our new Executive Director, the Policy Council also want to acknowledge the hard work and service of the Search Committee Members who dedicated their time, energy and expertise over the last six months to determine the Society's next professional staff leader.

The committee was comprised of:

John Pastor Ansah
Duke National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School

Don Greer
Greer Black Company – Montana

Peter Hovmand
Washington University - St. Louis

Hyunjung  Kim
California State University Chico

Birgit Kopainsky
Bergen University - Norway

Leonard Malczynski
Mindseye Computing, Inc. - Albuquerque 

Eliot Rich
University at Albany

John Richardson
National University of Singapore

Etiënne Rouwette
Radboud University Nijmegen - Netherlands

The committee was asked about its experience with the search process and all agreed that it was an honor to serve the Society in this capacity.  Several felt it was one of the most important ways they could assist the Society. "I decided to join the Committee because a decision on whom to hire for Executive Director is one of the most important decisions any organization can make. This position is the face of the Society and the consistent factor for the years to come, while Policy Council Members and Presidents change. The new Executive Director has some big shoes to fill and we needed to find the right person," said Etiënne Rouwette.

Birgit Kopainsky shared: "I thought it was pretty humbling to see all the members of the committee, from all over the globe, meet at the most impossible times for many and pursing one goal, and one goal only, namely to find a replacement for somebody who seemed fairly irreplaceable. Nobody pursued an agenda. Everybody was simply dedicated to the future of both the System Dynamics Society and the System Dynamics field at large and this was a pretty amazing experience."

Society Past President Len Malczynski stated: "I was delighted by the dedication and concentration of effort displayed by the Executive Director Search Team. They represented a variety of backgrounds, geography, and System Dynamics practice. A truly professional team! On behalf of President Martinez-Moyano, myself, and the entire Policy Council and SDS Community, we thank them."