ACS treasurer and chief financial officer Albert G. Horvath will succeed Thomas Connelly as head of the American Chemical Society, effective Jan. 1, 2023. Connelly will retire at the end of 2022 after nearly 8 years with ACS. (ACS publishes C&EN.)
“I am pleased that a person with Al Horvath’s skill will be the next CEO of ACS,” Paul W. Jagodzinski, chair of the ACS Board of Directors, says in a statement. “His dedication to the mission and core values of ACS, coupled with his experience in member and public-serving organizations, position him well to lead the Society as we move forward.”
“I'm incredibly honored and humbled by this opportunity,” Horvath tells C&EN. “We're in a very good spot. We have our issues. But I think the challenge for me will be to continue that momentum and keep us moving forward as we have.”
ACS president Angela Wilson says the board considered a diverse group of candidates before making its selection. “In every single experience, [Horvath] has just left the organization even better,” Wilson says. “I have every belief he will do the same for ACS in his role as CEO.”
As CEO, Horvath plans to focus on growing the information services businesses that make up a significant portion of ACS’s revenue. He hopes to facilitate a successful transition to hybrid work and bolster staff engagement after the tumultuous years of the pandemic. “That's obviously something that I want to work closely with the executive leadership team on,” Horvath says. “How do we continue to help people around the society feel positive about their place here?”
Horvath joined ACS as treasurer and chief financial officer in February 2019. He says his years with the organization have helped him understand the CEO’s role in facilitating the flow of information between ACS staff and governance and to appreciate the importance of ACS’s volunteers. “The opportunity to have this experience to better understand how ACS works, get to know people within the organization, have a sense of what the issues are in front of us, I think is a real benefit,” he says.
“Throughout his career, Al has held leadership roles in distinguished organizations committed to scientific advancement,” Connelly says in a statement. “His broad experience and personal qualities make him the ideal leader of ACS."
Horvath earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University in 1981 and a master’s degree in business administration from Duquesne University in 1985. He spent two decades in senior leadership roles at Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and Pennsylvania State University before joining the Smithsonian Institution in 2011. There he served as chief operating officer and under secretary for finance and administration, with a 6-month stint as acting secretary, before joining ACS.
Former ACS president Luis Echegoyen says that though he was initially surprised that the board selected someone without a chemistry or chemical engineering background, the CEO’s focus is on planning and long-range vision. “It’s more of a business operation,” Echegoyen says. “When you look at it from that perspective, he’s a great person.”
This story was updated on Dec. 1, 2022, to include quotes from Angela Wilson and Luis Echegoyen.