1. Why are you running for President-Elect?
Current challenges for ACS and our members call for experienced leadership; I believe my experience and passion for ACS match those needs. I’m grateful for ACS opportunities I’ve had and want to lead collaborations with members and other groups to meet our shared goals for employment, advocacy, education and information.
2. What are the top three changes/improvements will be among your priorities as President?
ACS has many good programs, but there is a lot of room for new ideas, more effective programs and better engagement of our members. Some of the areas I would focus on if elected are the following:
1. Strengthen our advocacy programs. In the US, science has become increasingly politicized and dismissed, government scientists censored, and funding cuts proposed that threaten education, research and employment for scientists. We need to grow and intensify our advocacy programs. We have good programs such as Capitol Hill visits and Science and the Congress presentations, but our programs at the state level vary greatly. We can also reach our members of Congress more effectively in their home districts. Better support and organization of advocacy programs at the state level to involve our members are needed. We lament the lack of scientists in Congress, but haven’t done much to catalyze a change in the demographic. For our members who are interested in being directly engaged in the political process, from school boards to national office, we can provide information and mentoring to help them succeed.
2. Strengthen external collaborations and partnerships. Better industry and academia collaborations can provide resources for members early in their careers or when considering career transitions. Stronger partnerships with societies such as NOBCChE and SACNAS could be very effective in supporting diversity and inclusion in ACS, and employment in the chemical enterprise. Stronger collaborations with international organizations can provide opportunities for our members on a global basis and help us address global challenges.
3. Strengthen internal collaborations. I want to encourage collaboration across ACS entities, such as Local Section and Divisions, and across committees. One example is at Regional Meetings, which could benefit by supporting streamlined communication between meeting organizers and technical divisions. Regional meetings provide opportunities for greater student participation than national meetings, and all meeting participants could benefit from stronger collaborations.
3. How long have you served in ACS leadership and in what capacity(ies)? During this time, what was your greatest accomplishment?
My service in ACS began during my first job out of graduate school when a colleague at Procter and Gamble walked down the hall and said “Bon, I need you to be the section newsletter editor.” As with many members, I became engaged in ACS leadership at the invitation of another member. My involvement since then has included the following:
Cincinnati Section, 1982-91 – Chair, Chair-elect, Program Committee Chair, Vice-chair, Treasurer, Editor of CINTACS, Nominating Committee Chair, Long Range Planning Committee Chair, and Trustee.
Santa Clara Valley Section, 1992-present – Councilor (18 years), Chair, Chair-elect, Public Relations Committee Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, National Chemistry Week Committee Chair, Kids and Chemistry Committee Chair, Volunteers in Public Outreach Coordinator, KidVention Committee, “Teach the Teachers” workshop organizer, founder of the “Shelter Project” hands-on activities for kids in homeless shelters, co-founder of Interview Workshop for undergraduate and graduate students.
Divisions: Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Flavor Subdivision – Chair, Chair-elect, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. Editor of ACS Symposium Series books based on symposia organized with the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Division of Cellulose, Paper and Textile Chemistry and the Biotechnology Secretariat.
Regional Meetings: Western Regional Meeting 2013 Program Co-chair, WRM Board. As District VI Director, I attended every regional meeting in the district (and others nationwide).
National: ACS Board of Directors, Director District VI, 2006-14, Board Chair, 2010-11; Councilor ex officio, 2006-14; Society Committee on Budget and Finance, Chair, Vice-chair; Program Review Subcommittee Chair; ACS Board of Directors Executive Committee Chair; Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations Chair; Committee on Grants and Awards; Committee on Planning Chair; Board Goals Committee Chair; Board Oversight Committee for Communications Strategic Plan Chair; Board Liaison to Corporation Associates; Council Policy Committee Vice-Chair; Committee on Nominations and Elections Vice-Chair, Secretary; Committee on Local Section Activities;C&EN Editorial Board; Governing Board for Publishing; Development Advisory Board; Advisory Group for New Ventures; Board of Trustees, Group Insurance Plans for ACS Members, Vice-chair. Numerous Board-Council Task Forces, Summits and Working Groups, including Local Section and Regional Meeting Summits.
My greatest ACS accomplishment: Fostering greater interactions and transparency between the ACS Board of Directors and members. Examples include having members of the Board work side-by-side with other members in community service in the “Chemists in the Community” project at the San Francisco national meeting my first year on the Board; changing the Open Board Meeting to a more convenient time and place (with food) to encourage input from members; encouraging the new Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and inviting them to interact directly with the Board; and establishing greater transparency in budgets for ACS programs and committees.
4. What is the Society’s greatest need/challenge, and if elected, how would you address it?
ACS has been losing members steadily over the last several years. To be a vibrant and successful Society, members must see ACS as relevant to meeting their needs, interests and aspirations. This is particularly important in these challenging times when science is being devalued and dismissed. Among the things I would do to address the challenge is to develop better tools to understand our diverse member needs and aspirations, and target programs accordingly. I want to establish stronger collaborations across our different ACS entities to find synergies that benefit all our members.
5. When it comes to issues facing younger chemists, where do you think the ACS can do a better job towards solving this issue and what role would you play if elected?
When I was involved as a younger chemist with the YCC “Roadshow” visiting campuses across the country, the issues we heard concerned mainly employment and career options. On one roadshow trip my 6-month-old son came along, triggering more questions about work/life balance and the problems of employment for couples when both are chemists. Other issues involved diversity, particularly opportunities for minorities and for women. I think these issues are still prominent with younger chemists, but the first thing I would do is engage younger chemists to listen to their concerns and ideas to confirm what the issues are today, get suggestions about addressing issues, and engage younger chemists in working on those issues. Younger chemists are our future leaders, and they are also among our current leaders; leadership and good ideas can come from any age group.
6. If elected, how do you intend to harness the energy and enthusiasm of younger chemists to help achieve your strategic goals?
I would like to engage the energy and enthusiasm of younger chemists throughout the Society, for example by encouraging participation and growth in local section YCC’s, and in other aspects of local section leadership. My focus on our shared ACS goals is particularly on advocacy and outreach, two areas where younger chemists can have a significant impact.
7. Given that the Younger Chemists Committee is a voice for ACS members under the age of 35 and the Committee represents over 20% of ACS members, how do you plan to use the Committee to achieve you board goals as ACS President?
I plan to communicate with the YCC regularly to listen and discuss ideas and issues from younger chemists, and to engage the YCC to help develop better approaches for ACS to address global challenges. The YCC already has programs that synergize well with the areas I am focusing on such as Local Section YCC’s and international cooperative programs such as Young Chemists Crossing Borders and the International Young Chemists Network.
I am interested to know how the YCC is interacting with other ACS committees, and whether the current committee liaison process is effective.