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Why ACS? Why Now?

by Madeleine Jacobs, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
September 29, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 39

Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

AS I WRITE this in mid-September, the Dow Jones industrial average has ended a stomach-wrenching week; millions of Americans are recovering from Hurricane Ike; the federal government has taken over the largest insurance company in the world; the national unemployment rate has increased significantly; and the Consumer Confidence Index is depressing. So you might well ask, what could I possibly have to say about the U.S. economy that would be relevant to ACS members?

My improbable message to you is that ACS is here to help its members during these troubled economic times, and I am asking you to take that message to your colleagues. About half of all ACS members will soon be receiving renewal notices for 2009 dues. At times of economic stress, many of us question every expenditure, whether it's renewing membership in our professional society or making donations to our favorite charities. In the case of ACS, you might ask, "Why ACS? Why Now?"

My answer is that it is precisely at times of economic turmoil that ACS members have an added incentive to renew their dues. That incentive is found in our new brand, "ACS: Chemistry for Life." To me, this brand has two meanings: Chemistry affects everything we do in life, and ACS is here for its members throughout their lifetimes, not just in good times, but all the time.

I could even make the case that membership in ACS is more important in these challenging times than when times are good. Let me explain why, and I'll begin with ACS Career Services, which is noteworthy for the breadth and depth of its offerings and personalized services. Our ACS Careers website is a comprehensive place for information and for helping members and employers find each other. The ACS Center for Professional Development offers leadership and short courses, both in person and online. C&EN provides a wealth of useful tips and up-to-date information on finding a job. If you're an unemployed member, you may receive a dues waiver.

Earlier this month, we premiered the ACS Careers Industry Forum, a teleconference with leading industrial chemists. At the Sept. 11 forum, Magid Abou-Gharbia, who has been Wyeth's senior vice president and head of chemical and screening sciences, spoke about career opportunities and took questions from members. More than 400 members from around the world preregistered, and hundreds more participated through remote auditoriums. You may sign up for future teleconferences at the ACS Careers Blog,

And there's more value as an ACS member. The new ACS Member Network brings together thousands of colleagues to communicate and collaborate. We have affordable insurance plans, available only to members. Our local sections and regional meetings, as well as our twice-yearly annual meetings, offer invaluable collaboration opportunities, especially for young chemists just starting their careers.

ACS is here to help its members during these troubled economic times.

The diversity and caliber of ACS technical divisions distinguishes us among professional scientific societies. This year, four of our technical divisions celebrated 100th anniversaries (see page 47). Speakers at a 100th anniversary symposium at the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia highlighted the unique value of divisions, which provide nearly all the programming for ACS national meetings. Speaking on behalf of the Division of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, Terry E. Acree called divisions the "agora," or marketplace, of ideas. The Division of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry's Robin D. Rogers said that divisions "facilitate interdisciplinary discourse and, thus, innovation." Ronald Breslow noted that the Division of Organic Chemistry, ACS's largest division, "brings together—in one large tent—all the different aspects in which organic chemistry has played a dominant role in the past and promises to play such a role in the future."

SPACE DOES not permit me to talk about all of the benefits of ACS membership—the wealth of our information resources, our education and scholarship programs such as Project SEED and ACS Scholars, the Petroleum Research Fund, advocacy efforts, our website, and communications programs to the public highlighting the value of chemistry. We have a quick reference guide, the ACS Elevator Speech, providing the major reasons people say they join ACS and stay members for life. If you would like a copy of the ACS Elevator Speech, visit our website,

In addition to all the things I've mentioned, members value our knowledge base, the fact that we are a leader in identifying global challenges and helping find solutions, and importantly, that ACS is a force for good in society, dedicated to fulfilling the ACS Vision, "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry." When you receive your dues notice, please renew your commitment to ACS by renewing online or by mail, and urge your colleagues to join you! There's never been a better time to be a member of ACS.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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