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Comment: Corporation Associates is the voice of industry within ACS

by Don S. Wardius, chair, ACS Committee on Corporation Associates
August 14, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 28


Don S. Wardius.
Credit: Christine B. Schmidt
Don S. Wardius

As an American Chemical Society member employed in the industrial sector, I sometimes find myself questioning the relevance of the society to the wider chemical enterprise. Can industry chemists benefit from being ACS members? Can companies themselves benefit from engaging with ACS? The answer to both these questions is a resounding yes.

ACS offers a wide range of opportunities for its industry members. National and regional meetings provide great forums for members to present their work, participate in the scientific process, and develop their leadership skills. ACS also provides outstanding training resources and opportunities to apply newly acquired skills, such as by leading activities vital to ACS’s mission.

Upskilling ACS industry members benefits their employers too. But how can companies engage more directly with the society? Joining Corporation Associates (CA) is one such opportunity. CA operates at the national level and has representation from a wide spectrum of companies engaged in the chemical enterprise. Each company involved in CA has a representative that sits on the Committee on Corporation Associates. This committee presents the CA’s collective view to the ACS Board of Directors and to ACS at large.

What does CA do? CA helps ACS communicate to stakeholders and the public the enduring value of chemistry. CA assists ACS in recognizing outstanding accomplishments by teams of chemical scientists employed in all aspects of the wider chemical enterprise. CA works within ACS, bringing industry perspective to ACS events, conferences, publications, and awards.

ACS members are stronger and more vibrant when we work together.

Recently, CA has been developing a strategic framework to guide our future activities. The framework is still evolving, but key themes are emerging. We will continue to engage in ACS’s public policy process. CA’s perspective on the chemical enterprise enables it to bring unique insight to ACS’s public policy statements, helping ACS reach its goal of effectively communicating chemistry’s value to the public and to policy makers. CA will also help to define and accelerate the business case for sustainability at ACS, aligning with the ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future Strategic Initiative announced earlier this year.

CA will also foster innovation. Innovation not only includes discovery and invention but also encompasses garnering the insight required to meet a real need, including finding the best applications. Usually there is a need to “industrialize,” to take a scientific breakthrough and make it more practical and robust so it may be used effectively in commerce. The process of innovation also includes considering the “triple bottom line,” meaning that innovations should be socially beneficial, address real needs, and make a profit. CA acts to encourage innovation, offering unique insight and perspectives, catalyzing important conversations, helping innovators find new paths, and boosting the effectiveness of the process of innovation.

As the world changes, the chemical enterprise is evolving and facing new challenges. CA’s role will be to work with ACS to navigate this evolution. ACS needs to remain vigilant and respond to the changing needs and challenges of the chemical industry. CA will be at the forefront and articulate opportunities to ACS to help it focus on the most impactful ones. Possibilities might be fostering precompetitive science in a key area of research but could also involve new organizational, workforce, and collaboration methods, or leveraging translational processes, research, or information science. Capitalizing on the best opportunities will draw on the core strengths that are unique to ACS.

CA continues to look for creative ways for members from the chemical enterprise to connect, grow their professional networks, and experience more dynamic and meaningful volunteer opportunities. CA fosters safe spaces for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and mutual growth. We share practical perspectives and help with effective outreach to people from traditionally underrepresented groups in chemistry-related professions. Our strategic plan has many connections with the larger goals embodied in the ACS Strategic Plan.

ACS is a worldwide community of members who have broad reach across all the chemical sciences. ACS members are stronger and more vibrant when we work together. ACS members interact in the process of science; support, encourage, and celebrate good work; and collaborate to build a shared future in which all have health, security, well-being, and enjoyment. CA makes important contributions to this effort by articulating how the chemical enterprise works and by fostering interaction and collaboration to move the needle on tough problems. Without CA, ACS would miss out on perspectives and dialogues that help the entire organization be more effective. We need companies from across the chemical enterprise to engage in CA and help make chemistry more meaningful for all.

If your company is already represented in CA, you can engage with us by contacting your company representative. To find out how your company can join CA, please reach out to me at I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you.

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


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