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Your Role In Making ACS A Premier Advocacy Organization

by Catherine Hunt, Immediate Past President
April 14, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 15

Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Giving Thanks! First, let me say, "Thank you!" Thank you to all the ACS members who substantially increased their engagement with policymakers in 2007 and who, by their efforts, successfully advocated for several key legislative priorities, including the America Competes Act. ACS had a significant role in securing passage of this law, which authorizes $43.3 billion over three years for research in the physical sciences and education programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This was the culmination of two years of advocacy in conjunction with other science and technology organizations and education groups, as well as with companies and trade groups.

But that's not all. Last year, your efforts led to successful House passage of the Green Chemistry Research & Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 2850), and we worked closely with key senators in drafting the America's Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191) to incorporate ACS priorities, notably directing anticipated carbon auction revenues to fund advanced energy research programs. Reaching out to the office of every freshman member of Congress, we introduced these legislators to ACS, our community, and our primary policy issues such as innovation and competitiveness.

It has been a privilege to lead and actively participate in many of these efforts. The opportunities to testify in front of congressional subcommittees, to share the podium at a press conference with two members of the House of Representatives, and to directly engage legislators and senior staff in critical national policy dialogues are among my proudest achievements as your president.

Not every ACS member will testify on Capitol Hill, but each of us has an important role to play. If we the scientists don't speak up for science and technology, who will? ACS has long been a key voice for science at the federal government level, but this is not the time to rest on our laurels.

What's the Plan? In our "ACS Strategic Plan 2008 and Beyond" (, the board has committed to working with you to build on our successes and move the society to a new level of advocacy. Specifically, in Goal 5, we have vowed to make ACS "a premier advocacy organization for members and the profession, creating and communicating policy statements in accordance with our congressional charter."

The Office of Legislative & Government Affairs recently expanded and enhanced the Legislative Action Network (LAN). This is your lifeline to updates on federal legislation and your call to action when the need arises. Now you will find more alerts, stronger messages, ongoing policy debates, and links to new articles—all designed to enhance your interest and jump-start your involvement. As a member of ACS, you are backed by a passionate and influential organization that is dedicated to supporting you as a member of our profession and a voice for science and technology. Find out more about this program by visiting

I'm asking you to join me in our grassroots efforts. If you are not already a member of LAN, please join today by visiting If you are a member, keep those e-mails and letters coming! But don't stop there.

Local Sections. What about starting your own Government Affairs Committee? In the past two years, the number of local section Government Affairs Committees has nearly tripled to 71. These committees are arranging a wide range of activities from write-in campaigns to visits with federal legislators. What will it take to get all 190 local sections to establish Government Affairs Committees?

In 2008 and 2009, working with members across Alabama, Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, we are reinvigorating our science advocacy at the state level. Members like you will be engaging their state officials with ACS messages tailored to each state's ongoing dialogue about improving K–12 science education. This is an opportunity to get training, get involved, and make a difference—a real difference to the future of science education in the U.S.

Divisions and Committees. Let's not forget technical divisions and committees. How can they get more engaged in advocacy? In writing targeted policy statements? In contacting their legislators? Divisions and committees could be key to improving the effectiveness of ACS policy statements and messages, key to enhancing our reputation as a credible resource for scientific information, and key to understanding and improving science policy.

The Ask! I am asking you to join in creating a strong future for science and technology in this country and around the world. You can start now by joining the online discussion of Goal 5 and sharing your thoughts and ideas on how to set a course and drive toward achieving this goal. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

Working together, we can make ACS the premier organization for educating and engaging legislators, the media, the public, and the next generation—from legislating STEM education and green chemistry to promoting the importance of chemistry in our everyday lives from cell phones to lifesaving medicines. Working together, not only will we be fulfilling our national charter but also making our ACS vision a reality: "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry."



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