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For District V director: Lisa M. Balbes

by Lisa M. Balbes
September 10, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 33


A photo of Lisa M. Balbes
Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt
Lisa M. Balbes

St. Louis Section. Balbes Consultants LLC, Kirkwood, Missouri.

Academic record: Washington University, BA, chemistry, psychology, 1985; University of North Carolina, PhD, chemistry, 1989.

Honors: ACS Fellow, 2017; Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, 2013; ACS St. Louis Local Section Outreach Volunteer of the Year, 2016; ACS Division of Chemistry and the Law, Howard and Sally Peters Award, 2015; ACS E. Ann Nalley Midwest Regional Award for Volunteer Service, 2012; ACS Midwest Section, Best Local Section Career Program; ChemLuminary Award, ACS, 2014, 2011, 2004; ACS St. Louis Section, Salute to Excellence, Outstanding Service as Webmaven, 1996–04; Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts of America (BSA), 2014; Presidential Outstanding Service Award, Society for Technical Communication, St. Louis Section, 2002–03; St. Louis Web Developers Organization Service Award, 2001.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Balbes Consultants LLC, freelance technical writer and editor, 1992–; SmithBucklin, science communication manager, 2020–.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Committees, 2020–22; Committee on Nominations and Elections, 2014–19, secretary, 2017–19; Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs, 2008–13, chair, 2011–13; committee associate, 2007; Council Policy Committee (nonvoting), 2011–13.

Service in ACS offices: St. Louis Section: councilor, 2010–21, treasurer, 2005–06, alternate councilor, 2004–06, chair, 2002, chair-elect, 2001; career resource coordinator 2003–; Scout Clinic, chair 2004–; Business Development & Management Division: chair, 2017; Joint Midwest/Great Lakes Regional Meeting: exhibits cochair, 2011; Chemical Information Division: Career Committee, chair, 2006–08; Computers in Chemistry Division: web maven, 2000–08; Professional Relations Division: newsletter editor, 2007–15; Columbus Section: public relations chair, 1993–94, Nominating Committee, chair, 1994; National Chemistry Week Committee, 1992–95.

Member: Member of ACS since 1986. Royal Society of Chemistry, fellow; American Medical Writers Association; Author’s Guild; BSA. ACS Divisions: Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Business Development and Management, Chemistry and the Law, Professional Relations, Small Chemical Businesses.

Related activities: ACS career consultant, 1992–; National BSA Committee, advancement lead, 2021–; Greater St. Louis Area Council, BSA STEM Committee, 2012–; National BSA STEM in Scouting Committee 2014–; Research Triangle Institute, North Carolina, research associate, 1990–92, postdoc, computational chemistry, 1989–90; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, research assistant, 1985–89; published book: Nontraditional Careers for Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2006); authored over 250 articles; presented almost 300 invited talks (US, Canada, and Scotland) on career development for scientists since 2007.

Balbes’s statement

I am honored to be considered for a position on the ACS Board of Directors, and I thank the members for this opportunity to reflect on my history with, and the future of, this organization.

Who am I?

I have been an active member of ACS for almost 30 years. During that time, I have volunteered in two local sections, held offices in at least four divisions, organized the exposition at a regional meeting, presented and organized sessions at national meetings, served on three national committees (two elected), and chaired one.

As my involvement increased, I learned more about what ACS does and how it works. I continue to be amazed by how much ACS has to offer its members and the entire chemical profession. I firmly believe that everyone should be an active member of their professional society, and ACS is my professional home. The more active I become, the more convinced of that I am.

Like any good scientist, I conducted some research on this opportunity. I learned that one of the primary duties of the Board of Directors is to “have, hold, and administer all the property, funds, and affairs” of the society. My more than 28 years managing my own consulting business, as well as serving on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations, has provided me with valuable experience in overseeing fiduciary responsibilities. The Board must ensure that the society is on a firm financial foundation, both now and for the future. We are living in unusual times, and there are more challenges to come; we must be prepared.

The Board of Directors is also responsible for expressing the official position of the society and supporting all policy positions. This is a weighty responsibility. In other venues, I have helped to develop policy statements and other documents that set direction and have learned to listen to all viewpoints, work to gain consensus, and ensure everyone supports the group decision moving forward.

Knowing what the Board does is necessary, but not sufficient. Board members also bring their own passions and interests to the position. Throughout my career, I have had two passions—careers and communication.


ACS must be supportive of all members’ career choices. As a chemist with a nontraditional career, I bring a unique voice to the Board of Directors.

One of my first volunteer roles at ACS was as a career consultant, helping others through career transitions. I was, and continue to be, amazed that we have such a comprehensive suite of career development programs that is the envy of other professional societies. I have given hundreds of presentations, talked to thousands of scientists about their careers, and broadened my knowledge about the career options for chemists.

If elected, I will work to ensure that every ACS member feels valued, professionally and personally, and that everyone is warmly welcomed to join. We are a broad and diverse group, with room for all. My goal has always been to help others make the choice that is right for them, and the more ACS supports that, the more diverse and professionally fulfilled our membership will be.


As a professional technical writer and editor, I have a passion for clear, concise communication.

The current pandemic has brought into stark relief the fact that not everyone has a basic understanding of science, or how the scientific method works. As we have unfortunately seen, this has had very real consequences for people’s livelihoods, and even their lives. ACS has a duty to the professional scientists who make up its membership, but also to nonscientists who need to be informed citizens.

ACS needs to help its members communicate with those outside our profession, to share their knowledge and understanding at an appropriate level and depth. We need to be proud to be chemists, and to share how our work helps make the world a better place.

In addition to communication with the public, I would advocate for effective communication with our own membership. Listening to them, and providing the information they need when they need it, is crucial. ACS is a large and complex organization, and a little coordination can go a long way towards informing without overwhelming.


Thank you for reading and for taking seriously your responsibility to vote for the candidate you feel best qualified to serve. I humbly request your vote, and will do my best to live up to your faith if elected.

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