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Comment: Contribute your time and talent to meaningful ACS activities

by Mary K. Carroll, 2024 ACS president, and Brian Mathes, chair, Committee on Committees
March 4, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 7


Image of Mary K. Carroll.
Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt
Mary K. Carroll

The American Chemical Society has over 200,000 individuals in our global membership community, including both members and community associates. Our community includes experienced and early-career professionals working in a wide array of fields, as well as students and retirees. For our society to have the most influence, ACS must nurture and maintain this diverse membership by leveraging members’ backgrounds, perspectives, and talents and engaging them in meaningful ways in high-impact activities.

An individual member can contribute to ACS activities in many ways. ACS student members often have their first volunteer opportunities within one of the ACS Student Communities, which include US and international student chapters and graduate student organizations. Other ACS members find connection, networking, and volunteer opportunities in their local sections, technical divisions, or international chemical sciences chapters. And K–12 teachers are active participants in the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT).

Image of Brian Mathes.
Credit: Courtesy of Brian Mathes
Brian Mathes

Interested in contributing your time and talent to ACS but unsure how to do so? “Pathways for Aspiring ACS Leaders” will be the theme of the ACS Board of Directors open meeting at ACS Spring 2024 in New Orleans. Consider attending!

One of the most significant ways a member can become involved in ACS is through service on one of the ACS council-related committees, which help lead and shape the society’s direction, experiences, and programs. To be recommended for service on an ACS committee, you must complete the online committee preference form. The form for committee assignments lets the Committee on Committees (ConC) know of your interest in specific committees and how your background prepares you to contribute meaningfully to the work of those committees. Having a large pool of volunteers allows ConC to recommend some of the important voices from our chemistry communities that have been missing or underrepresented on our governance committees. ConC’s goal is to balance the volunteer needs of our committees while ensuring that a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives are available. We are committed to the ConC mission statement “to ensure ACS committees are inclusive, optimally organized, resourced, and engaged.”

The preference form, found at, will be available from March through the start of July. Your ACS membership must be in good standing to complete your committee preferences. Please complete the form only if you feel you can attend and actively participate in a committee’s meetings. ACS committees are working committees; attendance (virtually or in person) and participation in committee and subcommittee meetings are important. ConC reviews all preference form submissions as it develops its recommendations during the fall ACS meetings. We encourage you to explore the governance committee descriptions on the ACS website and reach out to committee chairs or ACS staff liaisons. Several committees will have open meetings, which are listed in the ACS Spring 2024 conference program (page 47) and can be attended by any ACS member. ConC has also planned a Committee Row at Sci-Mix.

ConC does not directly appoint or reappoint individuals to serve on committees. The role of ConC is to make recommendations for appointments that are acted on both individually and jointly by the ACS president-elect and board chair. Appointment letters are sent out to all newly appointed and reappointed committee volunteers by Dec. 31, and new terms begin on Jan. 1. Most initial committee appointments are for 1-year nonvoting associate positions.

Recent efforts to increase the number and diversity (broadly defined) of ACS members completing the committee preference form have been successful, including the Front Porch event at ACS Spring 2023 in Indianapolis and outreach by the Committee on International Activities to members residing outside the US. Of course, the success of these efforts means that not everyone seeking a committee assignment can be accommodated, including experienced ACS volunteers. We encourage those who are not selected for a 2024 committee to reapply this year for 2025 and to continue engaging actively within their ACS local section, division, international chemical sciences chapter, or student community.

This year, to help engage more ACS member volunteers, including those who cannot commit to a yearlong committee appointment for professional or personal reasons, ConC is exploring opportunities for microvolunteering on ACS committees. Microvolunteering would be a new way of being involved with our society, allowing more members to become involved in initiatives with clear, time-bound goals that align with the society’s needs.

We emphasize the great power of networking within ACS. Taking on a volunteer role within ACS, on a council committee, or with an ACS unit is a fantastic way to expand your network and work with other passionate members to drive change.

Interested in volunteer opportunities (including microvolunteering)? We look forward to hearing from you at and

Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.



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