As we move forward with the new membership model and levels, this area is of critical importance for our strength and the opportunities for members.
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.
3) Let's encourage and facilitate the use of virtual technology and hybrid meeting styles to reach out to members not in the vicinity of a meeting, or even in the USA as topics can be of wide interest.
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.
Strong local section and division programs serve both the interests of members at all career points from new grads to Senior Chemists for knowledge, 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 and unlock the value they bring to the ACS.
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.
It is my opinion that the majority of our members are not aware of the efforts being made by the ACS on Capitol Hill in Washington, and sometimes in state houses nationwide. As Chair of PA&PR we are working on spreading the word.
Let’s encourage continuing the renewal of the state-level government affairs coordinated efforts begun by ACS Presidents Charpentier and Campbell 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. With the comfort levels with virtual meetings due to the pandemic, many exciting opportunities are available to present training. 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 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..
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.
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.
Lee H. Latimer, Ph.D.
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) In this time of virtual and hybrid meeting formats, enhancing the ability of sections to host a meeting, especially smaller sections, possibly through direct financial grants, more support services from DMES/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.
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, encouraged and facilitated in their interest in chemistry and science. Period.