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For District III director: Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor

by Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor, candidate for District III director
September 8, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 30


This is a photo of Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor
Credit: Bachrach Photographers
Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor

Philadelphia Section. Retired, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Academic record: Chestnut Hill College, BS, 1966; Saint Joseph’s University, MS, 1976; University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, MBA, 1989.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2013; ACS Division of Chemical Information Val Metanomski Meritorious Service Award, 2006; National Federation of Advanced Information Services Honorary Fellow, 2014; Alpha Epsilon Sigma, 1966; National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services Memorial Award, 1998; American Society for Information Science Achievement Award, 1996.

Professional positions (for the past 10 years): National Federation of Advanced Information Services, executive director, 2002–14 (retired).

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Budget and Finance, 2018–, 2000–03; Committee on Committees, 2012–17, secretary, 2014–17; Council Policy Committee (voting), 2006–11, (nonvoting), 1997–99; Committee on Nominations and Elections, 2000–05, vice-chair, 2003, secretary, 2001; Committee on Divisional Activities, 1994–99, chair, 1997–99; Committee on Copyrights, 1989–98, chair, 1993–95; Committee on Committees, Task Force on Publications/Copyrights Inter-Committee Relationship, 1999; Advisory Board for Industry Relations, 1997–99; Board Task Force on Technical Programming, 1998; Program Coordination Conference Committee, 1997–98; ACS Books Advisory Board, 1991–94; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section T, representative, 1985–86.

Service in ACS offices: Division of Chemical Information: councilor, 1992–2024, chair, 1989, chair-elect, 1988, secretary-​treasurer, 1984–87, corresponding secretary, 1982, archivist, 2006–; Publications, 1990–, committee chair, 1990–95; Chemical Information Bulletin, editor, 1977–83.

Member: Member of ACS since 1972. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), Committee on Publications and Cheminformatics Data Standards, chair; Chemical Structure Association Trust, Board of Trustees; Philosopher’s Information Center, Board of Trustees. ACS Division: Chemical Information.

Related activities: US National Committee for IUPAC, vice-chair, 2020–; Chemistry International Editorial Board, member, 2015–; Pure and Applied Chemistry Editorial Advisory Board, ex officio member, 2020–; Chemical Structure Association Trust, board member, 1990–, chair, Grants Committee, 2002–, secretary, 2002–; Information Industry Association, board member, 1997–98; American Society for Information Science, board member, 1996–98, Delaware Valley Chapter chair, 1994, secretary 1992–94; National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, president, 1989; Information Policy and Copyright Committee, chair, 1991–2002; Journal of Electronic Publishing, Editorial Advisory Board, 1993–96; Chemical Notation Association, president, 1980, secretary, 1976–79; American Institute of Chemists, Philadelphia Chapter secretary, 1981–82; Institute for Scientific Information, executive vice president, database publishing, 1989–95.

Lawlor’s statement

It is an honor to be a candidate for the American Chemical Society Board of Directors. Although my career has followed a nontraditional path in scientific publishing, I consider myself first and foremost a chemist, and I have enjoyed the rewards of active involvement in the society for many years and the friendship of people who are united by their mutual passion for chemistry.

If elected, I am committed to fulfilling the board’s high-level charter which is to “have, hold, and administer all the property, funds, and affairs of the society,” but since I am running as a representative of District III, I have a very strong personal commitment to represent the ACS members who live and work in our district. I want to thoroughly understand the demographics of the region, the members’ perceptions of ACS, and what they need and want from ACS for both their personal and professional fulfillment.

While serving, I would continue my “education” about the region. Why? Because digital science is reshaping the environment within which the chemical enterprise operates. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain technology, robotics, etc., are no longer the stuff of science fiction—they are becoming mainstays of the current research toolbox. Today, successful research requires collaboration across multiple scientific disciplines; it is global and multicultural in nature; and scientific communication has become dynamic and nontraditional, with collaborative writing, data sharing, and interactive commentary being the norm. How are these changes impacting the members of District III and their employers—indeed what is the impact across the entire society, and is the next generation of chemists being effectively trained to succeed in this new world?

Fortunately, change creates opportunities, and I believe that with a focus on the four C’s—Community, Communication, Collaboration, and Careers—we can successfully manage the opportunities that our changing profession offers and emerge a stronger, more effective society. Using the four C’s, I would work with the members of District III and other district directors as follows:

Community: ACS is one of the world’s largest scientific communities, 151,000+ strong, and the pandemic has proven that we can effectively communicate and collaborate even when not physically together. I will work to ensure an aggressive use of technology to overcome the challenges to interaction created by geographic separation. An increased sense of community and ease of participation in that community can increase member engagement and retention, accelerate collaborative efforts, improve communication, and perhaps, attract new members.

Communication: ACS is responsible for three levels of communication: internal within our community, in our outreach activities, and as a facilitator for the flow of scientific information (publications, meetings, etc.). I will work to improve our internal communication across all six districts; improve our external communication, raising awareness of the value of chemistry (and chemists) in creating a sustainable planet Earth; and accelerate the development of innovative publishing initiatives that leverage emerging new forms of scholarly communication to ensure that ACS retains its leadership role in scientific publishing.

Collaboration: I believe that an increased sense of community and improved communication will strengthen and accelerate our own internal collaborative efforts, and I will work with other district directors in developing cross-district programs that may lead to a more unified society and strengthen our bond of sharing strong common goals.

Careers: I fulfilled my passion for chemistry through a career in scientific publishing. Other chemists within ACS are writers, lawyers, information specialists, computer scientists, etc. I will work to increase awareness of the diverse opportunities offered by a chemistry degree throughout the education process to ensure that even in the face of increased globalization, outsourcing, and a depressed US market for laboratory positions, those with a love of chemistry will be encouraged to fulfill their passion.

Why Bonnie Lawlor?

I believe that I will bring valuable expertise to the ACS Board of Directors. I served as the executive director of a nonprofit member organization for more than a decade, successfully managing membership retention and growth, motivating volunteers, and balancing member benefits with fiscal responsibility. My extensive publishing experience provides an understanding of the global issues that threaten ACS’s essential revenue from information products and services, and from a financial perspective, my management positions (and MBA) have provided significant profit and loss hands-on experience. Additionally, I have served as an ACS volunteer for decades, know the organization well, and am willing to work hard for you. For more information on my experience and skills, see the following article:

To contact this candidate, email


This article was updated on Sept. 8, 2023, to correct the name of the candidate. It is Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor, not Helen A. “Bonnie” Lawlor.


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