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For director-at-large: Natalie A. LaFranzo

by Natalie A. LaFranzo
September 10, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 33


A photo of Natalie A. Lafranzo
Credit: D. Robertson Fay Photography
Natalie A. LaFranzo

Northeastern Section. Cofactor Genomics, San Francisco.

Academic record: Bradley University, BS, with honors in chemistry, 2007; Washington University, PhD, chemistry, 2013.

Honors: ACS Younger Chemists Committee Leadership Development Award, 2011; International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, young observer; World Chemistry Congress, 2019; Periodic Table of Younger Chemists, recognition as “Cesium”, 2019; New York Academy of Sciences NeXXt Scholars Mentoring Fellowship, 2014–15; Presidential Management Fellowship, finalist, 2013; The Biotechnology and Life Sciences Advising Group, Project Manager of the Year Award, 2012; National Science Foundation, International Materials Institute for Solar Energy and Environment Travel Award, 2012; Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship, 2009–10; Washington University Chemistry Departmental Teaching Award, 2008; United States Department of Agriculture, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Next Generation Award, 2006; Bradley University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Intern of the Year, 2006.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Cofactor Genomics, vice president, market development, 2019–; director of scientific projects and market development, 2016–19; project scientist, 2013–15; Next Generation Sequencing, Horizon Discovery, product manager; NGS, 2016, customer support and technical support scientist, 2015–16; Washington University, head cheerleading coach, 2007–19; graduate researcher, 2007–13.

Service in ACS national offices: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect Advisory Board, 2016–18, 2020–21, chair, 2020–21; Committee on Budget and Finance, 2020–22, committee associate, 2019; Younger Chemists Committee, 2015–18, chair, 2016–18, committee associate, 2013–14; Task Force on Governance Design, 2017; Chemical Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council, 2014–16.

Service in ACS offices: Business Development and Management Division: alternate councilor, 2021–23; Northeastern Section: alternate councilor, 2020–22; Professional Relations Division: member-at-large, 2018–22; St. Louis Section: councilor, 2019; alternate councilor, 2018; past chair, 2018; chair, 2017; chair-elect, 2016; secretary, 2014–15; Leadership Development Forum, 2012–19. Midwest Regional Board: St. Louis Section, representative, 2016–18.

Member: Member of ACS since 2007. Association for Women in Science; American Association for the Advancement of Science; International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry; Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer. ACS Division: Biochemical Technology; Business Development and Management; Professional Relations; Small Chemical Businesses.

Related activities: career consultant, 2019-2021; International Younger Chemists Network, International Society Liaison Team, co-lead, 2019–20; The Biotechnology and Life Science Association Foundation, idea supporter, 2014–; organized various networking and professional development events at the local, national, and international level, including a “Crash Course in Professional Development” at the inaugural Atlantic Basin Conference on Chemistry; published multiple op-ed pieces on precision medicine and professional development, including a chapter in the ACS book Addressing Gender Bias in Science & Technology.

LaFranzo’s statement

Since its founding in 1876, the American Chemical Society has been a professional home for generations of chemists. We’ve launched and supported programs, products, and services that have amplified the impact of chemistry and chemical professionals. Today, the world is a very different place than when the society was founded. The needs and expectations of our members have evolved, and the society must actively work to grow alongside the community we serve.

My professional path is a prime example of the diverse opportunities available to chemists today. Starting my career away from the bench and working in small-to-medium biotech companies, while finding ways to integrate my personal and professional passions, has been deeply rewarding. As a career consultant, I have relished the opportunity to share how many different potential paths a chemist can take. There is no one size fits all in chemistry, and ACS is poised to create an inclusive environment where this can be celebrated. With this approach, we can lead the scientific community and encourage the most driven and passionate people to pursue chemistry. So, how do we create a space where all chemists will thrive and find value in ACS?

In order to move forward, we must acknowledge that social justice is at the forefront of our minds, and that all organizations have a role to play. Chemists from different backgrounds have unequal access to resources and opportunities along their educational and career paths. If we wish to change this and create a community where all can contribute to our mission and vision, we need to be open to hearing hard truths. This requires establishing formal, structured mechanisms for regularly soliciting and then triaging feedback from our members. This information is essential to actively dismantle barriers and processes that are prohibiting our shared success.

I have been a part of some of these conversations already, at different levels of the society. I have served as a subcommittee and committee chair, as a local section chair, and as a technical division officer. I’ve seen how challenging it is to create change and how discouraging it can be when you can’t find the right path or internal champion. I was motivated to serve on the Committee on Budget and Finance after failed attempts to garner approval for a new career program. Now, as a subcommittee chair in B&F, I am working with a team to improve the process for introducing innovative ideas to the society. I bring my experience of working in a lean start-up environment, where multidisciplinary science and fiscal responsibility are key. Becoming the scientific support system our members will need tomorrow, starts with the processes we build today.

Finally, I recognize the privilege of having a seat at the table, and it is something I will not take for granted. If elected to the ACS Board of Directors, I pledge to enable ACS to prepare chemistry professionals for the world to come. Quoting Dame Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics, “In the past jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in future they’ll be about the heart.” Creating an equitable and inclusive society is not only the morally right thing to do; it is the only way our members will be prepared for the future. I will work to honor the history and legacy of where we’ve come from, while expanding volunteer opportunities and engaging new voices. I will invite new members to join and participate, while finding opportunities for experienced, seasoned chemists to continue to serve. I will work to remove hierarchy and silos, while still championing excellence and rewarding achievements. I’m eager to hear your feedback and work alongside volunteers at all levels of ACS to help us evolve—not only to remain relevant to our current members—but to welcome those who are missing. I hope you will all join me in helping the ACS evolve to its full potential.

I welcome your feedback and comments via

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