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Comment: Shaping ACS for 2024 and beyond

by Mary K. Carroll, ACS president-elect
September 29, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 32


Mary K Carroll.
Credit: Courtesy of Union College
Mary K. Carroll

Last week, the ballots were distributed for the 2024 American Chemical Society election. I encourage all ACS members to vote in this year’s election and thereby contribute to the governance of our society. Biographical details about and statements from the candidates for president-elect and other board positions were published by C&EN in September. The voting deadline is Oct. 20, noon (CDT). One year ago, my name was on the ballot, and I am honored and grateful for the privilege of serving as the 2023 ACS president-elect.

What does the ACS president-elect do?

A major part of the president-elect’s role is serving as 1 of 16 members on the ACS Board of Directors. Board member Lisa M. Balbes describes the group’s responsibilities and ongoing activities in an August Comment in C&EN .

Additionally, the president-elect serves on the Council Policy Committee (CPC) and the Committee on Committees (ConC). The president-elect appoints ACS members to positions on ACS committees for the following year, when the president-elect becomes president. For some committees, the chair of the board also helps make these appointments.

I encourage all ACS members to vote in this year’s election and thereby contribute to the governance of our society. . . . The voting deadline is Oct. 20, noon (CDT).

The president-elect attends a variety of ACS events, represents ACS at a number of venues, and plans activities and initiatives for the presidential year.

As is the case with other ACS governance leadership positions—in local sections, divisions, international chemical sciences chapters, committees, and student chapters—ACS president-elect and ACS president are part-time, volunteer roles.

What have I been doing as ACS president-elect?

I have focused on amplifying ACS initiatives, promoting ACS activities that yield maximum results for ACS members and society as a whole, providing meaningful opportunities for all members to contribute to these activities, and working within existing ACS structures to effect positive change.

Doing governance work. I’ve been actively engaged in board meetings and serve on the board’s Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations. I contribute to ongoing efforts to position ACS governance for the future: ensuring representation of all ACS members on the council (with CPC and other stakeholders) and reviewing the committee structure (as a member of ConC). I’ve met with several committees to learn about their activities.

Representing ACS at events in the US. In addition to participating in a number of local section events, both in person and virtually, I attended the Northeast Regional Meeting in Boston in June, and I am looking forward to attending the Southwest Regional Meeting in Oklahoma City in November.

I had the privilege of speaking at two National Historic Chemical Landmark events. In Indianapolis in March, we celebrated a truly life-changing innovation for many people: the development and commercialization of insulin by Eli Lilly and Company 100 years ago. And in May at Columbia University, we honored the late Marie Maynard Daly , the first Black American woman to earn a PhD in chemistry in the US, for her inspiring achievements and influential career.

Interacting with other professional societies and supporting opportunities outside the US. In early June, I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, to attend the Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition. I met with the board of the Canadian Society for Chemistry and its staff, as well as board members of the Chemical Institute of Canada. During that meeting, I highlighted ACS initiatives in diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect.

In early July, I represented ACS in Istanbul at the General Assembly of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies (FACS) and the Asian Chemical Congress. There, I participated in a ceremonial signing of a memorandum of understanding. Under the new agreement, ACS-FACS collaborations will be guided by the United Nations sustainable development goals and will focus on fostering connections, offering technical programming and professional development, and communicating chemistry’s value.

In mid-July, I joined the ACS Joint Board-Council Committee on International Activities for a series of calls with leaders of ACS international chemical sciences chapters. I also participated virtually in events organized by several international student chapters throughout the year.

In September, several board colleagues and I attended the 50th anniversary conference of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). I participated in a joint NOBCChE and ACS leadership meeting, during which we discussed ongoing joint activities and explored potential areas for future collaboration.

Planning for 2024. For the remainder of the year, I will plan programming for ACS Spring 2024, ACS Fall 2024, and regional meetings; talk with committees about their ongoing efforts; and work with ConC to make committee assignments for 2024. I remain committed to working constructively, respectfully, collaboratively, and creatively with you and other members to advance ACS for its members and all of society. I encourage you to reach out to me anytime at

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


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