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Reinventing the Board Committee on Corporation Associates

by Diane Grob Schmidt, Board Committee on Corporation Associates
November 18, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 46


Photo of Diane Grob Schmidt.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Have you ever wondered how the chemical industry interacts with the American Chemical Society? Would you or your company be interested in getting more involved with ACS? A recent strategic refresh by the Board Committee on Corporation Associates (CA) has created new opportunities to get involved in the committee’s work.

Established in 1952, CA is the formal link between chemical and allied industries and the ACS Board of Directors. It is also the business and corporate voice to the ACS Board and across ACS on strategic issues from the industry and corporate segment of the chemical enterprise.

Recent changes in the chemistry enterprise have resulted in a more competitive landscape and global workforce. For ACS, these changes have contributed to a loss of corporate membership in CA and reduced engagement in activities supported by CA. These outcomes are mirrored by the loss of individual ACS members employed in industry, declining engagement of both corporations and industry members in ACS, a perceived lack of an ACS competitive value proposition to corporations versus other professional societies, and a perceived image of ACS as not representing the entire chemistry enterprise.

To address this changing landscape, the ACS Board has asked CA to reinvent itself. At the ACS national meeting in Boston in August, the ACS Board approved CA’s proposal, named “Future State,” and implementation plan to allow CA to function more efficiently and to increase the value of CA membership to the chemical industries that support ACS’s industry members. The plan includes the following points:

CA will continue to operate in key respects as a regular board-appointed committee following the board guidelines for committees.

CA will create a portfolio of industrial forums intended to create engagement and to address corporate interests and corporate value. Forums are a convening platform under the neutral ACS banner where companies assemble around topics of shared noncompetitive or precompetitive interest.

CA tasks that are not driving value for the corporate community, or not requiring corporate input, will shift elsewhere in ACS.

This reinvention effort is intended to create more value for companies and ACS, enable CA to identify strategic issues for ACS from the industry segment of the chemical enterprise, and increase corporate membership in CA, which in turn will drive increased corporation engagement with ACS.

CA is unique among the ACS committees in that the companies that belong to CA pay dues to ACS to support CA activities. In the Future State, the company representatives from each dues-paying company will be recommended to the board chair to be appointed as voting members of the committee.

Established in 1952, Corporation Associates is the formal link between chemical and allied industries and the ACS Board of Directors.

ACS currently supports several industry-focused forums, such as the ACS Chief Technology Officers (CTO) Summit and the Pharma Leaders Conference. Providing CA with leadership and coordination roles via these forums will enhance communication among the companies, the ACS Board, and individual ACS industry members. The CA forum portfolio will be inherently flexible to allow the creation of a forum for an industry segment to be sustained or for a limited function and duration, whichever is appropriate to add value. CA has created an Industrial Safety Forum with the stated goals of providing an industrial safety voice across ACS and providing the chemical enterprise writ large with a mechanism to improve enterprise-wide chemical safety under the leadership of ACS. If your company is interested in the CA Industrial Safety Forum, contact ACS Safety Program Manager Marta Gmurczyk at for more details.


CA will continue to host the Heroes of Chemistry program, present the ChemLuminary Award for industry events held by local sections, and sponsor the ACS Award for Creative Invention and the Award for Team Innovation. It will also keep financially supporting the local section and division seed grant funding. The industry voice in ACS public policy matters will still be a key role for CA. The industry networking event at each national meeting will continue to be hosted by CA and technical divisions that are industry stakeholders. CA will continue to be an integral part of the ACS industry member programs and a resource on industry affairs for the society.

The U.S. chemical industry has more than 10,000 firms producing more than 70,000 products. Approximately 22% of the more than 150,000 ACS members declare an industrial business relation. The future state of CA is aimed at improving ACS’s value for corporations and, as a result, their employees. You can help by having your company join CA and a CA industrial forum. Contact Christine Schmidt, CA staff liaison, at for more information and to provide your suggestions for future industrial forums.

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


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