Carolyn Ribes is the recipient of the 2018 Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society. Created in 2001, the award recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to ACS’s goals and objectives. Ribes was cited for her impactful leadership, her extraordinary commitment to diversity, and her tireless volunteerism to ACS at the local, divisional, and national levels.
“Carolyn is blazingly competent and genuinely committed to the society,” says Mary Carroll, who has served on numerous committees with Ribes. “She led several ACS units toward meeting strategically important, long-range objectives while, at the same time, broadening and developing the pool of ACS volunteer leaders. Carolyn exemplifies the very best qualities of volunteerism, as a leader and individual contributor.”
Ribes, who is a business analytical leader at Dow Chemical in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, says she was surprised to receive the news that she had won the award. “I’m very honored and humbled because when I reflect on all the other people who have won the award in the past, they’re leaders that I really respect, and many have been role models for me,” Ribes says.
Ribes’ extensive list of volunteer activities has included serving as chair of the Baton Rouge Local Section, councilor of the Brazosport Local Section, treasurer of the Analytical Chemistry Division, chair of the Younger Chemists Committee, chair of the Women Chemists Committee, and inaugural chair of the Joint Subcommittee on Diversity. She has also served in leadership roles on the Committee on Science, the Board Committee on Planning, the Committee on Committees (CONC), the Task Force on Governance Design, and the Council Policy Committee (CPC).
Ribes says her proudest accomplishments are ones in which her work has helped ACS members. For example, as vice chair of CPC, she partnered with CONC to obtain approval for the noncouncilor travel reimbursement that allows committee members that aren’t councilors to receive reimbursement for travel to ACS national meetings. “That had been floating around for a while, and when I came on the CPC, I helped draw that to closure,” she says.
As treasurer of the Analytical Chemistry Division, she helped support a fellowship program for graduate students. “I had received a fellowship as a graduate student, and it was so nice to be able to pay it back and to be able to support really amazing graduate students who are doing excellent research,” she says. She also continues to champion diversity, inclusion, and volunteerism with the society. As the current chair of the Committee on Committees, she is developing new approaches to engaging ACS’s army of volunteers.
Ribes says that you get out of volunteerism what you put in. “Whatever I’ve invested, I’ve had a return on that investment and much larger,” she says, noting that her volunteer work has helped her develop both personally and professionally, and it has helped her expand her network.
Her colleagues say that she has made a positive difference throughout the society. “Carolyn is a strong, effective, and insightful leader, who is admired and emulated throughout the ACS membership as a whole,” says Amber Charlebois, who has interacted and collaborated with Ribes in many different capacities. “She exemplifies what it means to be an impactful volunteer and leader in the ACS and is more than deserving of this award.”