Lee H. Latimer, Ph.D.
Especially since the addition of Safety to our Core Values, strongly pursued by the CHAS division, we are making very real impact on the safety consciousness of our members and associated fields. The impact must be in the lab, production and demonstrations as we build the ACS brand as safety central. I am proud of the work done while I was a CHO and hope others have had similar success. Sharing, but not pushing, our experience globally also serves to meet our goals.
I believe that to succeed as a science and a professional society we must work to ensure that there is full and open opportunity for all members of the ACS, and society generally, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, orientation, social status, employment or any other factor. Just as I am welcome in NOBCChE and SACNAS, all must be welcome as members of ACS, received warmly and encouraged in their interest in chemistry and science. Period.
The Board of Directors has several committees whose actions are generally not well known to our fellow Councilors. Typically, the actions of these committees are briefly noted in the report of the Chair of the Board at Council meetings if at all.
To ensure greater transparency and collaboration, initially, let’s address four actions:
1) Urge CPC to invite Board committees to submit written reports for inclusion in the Council Agenda book for each meeting;
2) Encourage the invitation of an observer from the those committees with overlapping responsibilities to attend the Board committees during appropriate times; and
These actions should be part of a process of increasing a broad and transparent understanding of the roles and actions of the Board of Directors with the Council and its members.
Strong local section and division programs serve both the interests of members for knowledge and for training and networking. These units are key ways members are involved with ACS. We need to always be looking at programs that strengthen these groups like the IPG programs and others.
Let’s encourage and sustain communication with the local sections in any ACS effort occurring in a local section territory. As a past chair of two sections in metropolitan areas, I know the embarrassment of a member asking about an ACS event or activity in the section that I didn’t know was happening. These are key opportunities for members to become aware of the local sections and meet the active members.
Let’s establish a ChemLuminary Award to recognize daring new ideas for activities or meetings, regardless of the success of the event in attendance or financial terms. My favorite activity in this area from the Leadership Institute track was Ice Fishing by one section. Maybe such a fun award sponsored by the Board would encourage members and also let them know of the Board’s support. What can we do for the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in 2019?
Regional meetings are a wonderful part of the spectrum of membership benefits in ACS, and are volunteer-organized and driven. Significant support and guidance comes from ACS Meetings and Expositions Department, but the lion’s share of the effort to put them on and financially support them comes from volunteers. Many members think of regional meetings as part of a hierarchical organization linked to the national meetings of the ACS. Most attendees do not realize the meetings are free standing, volunteer efforts.
The current array of supports from ACS is an outgrowth of the Regional Meetings Summit held in the last decade. It’s time for another. Some topics to drive future improvement recommendations would be:
1) Enhancing the ability of sections to host a meeting, especially smaller sections, possibly through direct financial grants, more support services from M&ED/ACS to directly assist putting on a meeting, or some kind of insurance against losses that can cripple a section or board, and
2) Addressing and raising the relative importance and visibility of regional meetings in the ACS.
This page builds on the issues that I have indicated in my statement and Town Hall discussions that are of particular interest for my work.
The focus of the Board must take into account a plethora of issues, particularly including the financial health of the society (along with the Committee on Budget and Finance) both now and in the future. At the same time it must have a willingness to experiment with ideas to develop and build the professional society of the future.
Let’s establish a regular monthly communication in C&EN of the ACS advocacy efforts. It is my opinion that the majority of our members and Councilors are not aware of the efforts being made by the ACS on Capitol Hill in Washington, and sometimes in state houses nationwide.
Let’s encourage a renewal of the state-level government affairs coordinated efforts to engage in issues before state legislatures and agencies, including partnering with other professional societies.
Let’s encourage the top leadership of the Society (Chair of the Board, President, CEO and others) to be more visible in statements and presentations about ACS positions, such as coordinating with local sections to have interview sessions with local media. The public and much of the media are largely unaware of ACS policy positions and the ACS leadership in science. We have 150,000 members, a bully pulpit for science. Let’s use it.
Key components of value for our members are continuing education, skill development and technical exchange, which directly bring value and employability to them. The Short Course program sets several sites per year for courses, yet the only connection potential attendees have is to the national organization. Local Sections need opportunities to show members that being a member has value, and this is one way for the local folks to be able to engage members.
Let’s coordinate the Short Courses with the Local Sections for a collaboratively advertised and executed product, one that shows the value of membership locally.
Let’s hold Leadership Development Courses (LDS) in major metropolitan areas accessible to members of several co-hosting sections to attend, especially those courses which will better find favor with managers to cover members attending.
Let’s continue to drive the utility of the AACT and find ways to link it with the local sections where mutual benefit can be found. I’ve recently joined AACT and am working with a teacher in the Science Coach program..
The ACS spends a great deal of money on retention and recruitment efforts. Effective retention efforts are excellent investments, as we know that members who drop are quite often in the first 5 years of membership.
Local sections and divisions can have a great impact on retention through their programs and activities and exemplifying the value of membership. With the new allotment formula for local sections, they also have a significantly stronger financial stake in retention. More successful retention efforts will depend on including the LS and Divisions in active campaigns targeting the value of membership.
1) Let’s develop collaborative retention efforts between the ACS Membership and Scientific Advancement Division and local sections/divisions as well as recruitment efforts, and
2) Let’s ensure all units have well maintained websites available to sections and divisions to assist them and our members. Many local sections and some divisions have substantial difficulty with websites, and some do not have them. Serving their members is much more difficult without an active website.
The issue of jobs is always key to the actions of the ACS and its members. Every activity of the society relates to members' jobs, from developing employability through technical meetings and skill training to public advocacy, education and outreach that ensures a public receptive to all sciences now and in the future. Effective monitoring of the job situation and taking actions to support the importance of science and chemistry to the future of society must be a critical foundation of the Board's work.
I'm a survivor of three different sizeable corporations that dissolved beneath me and many colleagues working in R&D. In each case, the mid-career trauma of having to search out a new position, different in each case for the duties and location. The ACS connections, involvement and training strongly supported my technical aspects and were keys to success. The career support of the ACS is a crucial benefit of a large professional society, but is never complete as the times keep changing as well as the opportunities. We must keep these efforts tuned up to support the employability of our members and to encourage them to use the services.