Issue Date: July 4, 2016
Volunteer service award to D. Richard Cobb
D. Richard Cobb is the recipient of the 2017 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. Cobb retired from Eastman Kodak in 2011 as a senior research chemical technician.
“Richard is very enthusiastic and has a tremendous passion for ACS,” says fellow ACS volunteer Mary K. Engelman, who is a technician at Eastman Chemical. “He has mentored multiple ACS volunteers into becoming highly active in ACS governance at the national and local level, as well as the broader scientific community within ACS.”
Cobb says his passion for volunteering comes from his passion for making a difference. “Whatever committee I served on, whatever division, whatever role, the more sour the lemon, the more I loved it because I wanted to make a difference,” he says. “Where I saw a situation that was not working well, I sought to challenge it and made every effort not to leave any committee or other leadership role the same way I found it.”
Cobb’s extensive list of volunteer commitments has included chairing the ACS Committee on Nominations & Elections, the Committee on Technician Affairs, the Committee on Membership Affairs, and the Committee on Admissions.
“Through Richard’s past leadership efforts, ACS has significantly changed how it addresses membership needs, including when and how membership is granted to applied chemical technology professionals, actively seeking to sunset committees that no longer bring value to the society, working to enhance the effectiveness of ACS by facilitating the dissolution of a division [the Division of Chemical Technicians] and moving its remaining valued member services to an existing committee,” the Committee on Technician Affairs, says Michael Mautino, who has served on numerous committees with Cobb.
Cobb acknowledges that it hasn’t always been an easy road to getting involved in the society. “A couple of the first experiences I had were doors being shut, and that was because I was a technician,” he says. That experience instilled in him a conviction to help mentor others into leadership roles.
“The numerous people he has nurtured and mentored have gone on to become councilors and chairs and taken other leadership roles in divisions, committees, and local sections,” says John Engelman, who has served alongside Cobb on numerous committees. “He has an outstanding record, through his personal one-on-one effort, of filling the leadership pipeline within ACS.”
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