Meet the 2017 Board Election Candidates – Part 1: AIChE's Impact

Voting for next year's AIChE Board of Directors is under way as of August 28th at Have your say and help direct the future of AIChE by voting!

The Young Professionals Committee (YPC) asked potential members of AIChE's board four questions about Young Professionals and AIChE. They were asked to answer two main questions, and were given the option of choosing to respond to additional questions, so you may not see responses from every candidate for every question. Answers are shown in alphabetical order by position and the candidate's last name.

In addition to learning about the candidates here, you can also learn more about candidates and the election process on the AIChE election page

Q: How has AIChE leadership impacted your personal and professional life?

For President-Elect

John J. Ekerdt

Professionally, I have gained a deeper understanding of how volunteer organizations operate and how important transparency and dialog are in developing programs and strategies, and in enlisting the community to move forward. I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from chemical engineers who represent all levels of responsibility within their organizations and who represent all the technology areas of the Institute. This has allowed me to observe and experience different leadership styles and helped me improve my own approach to leadership and management. This broad and diverse exposure has reinforced to me the importance of listening to multiple perspectives and of socializing policies as they are being developed to minimize a policy’s unintended consequences. Through my various AIChE leadership roles over the years I have learned best practices in a board-led governance model and how to communicate expectations and delegate responsibilities to both the volunteer base and the staff. Many of these best practices apply in academic leadership positions.

Personally, the leadership positions have given me an opportunity to know so many more chemical engineers than would normally be possible. Their passion for the profession and their respect of diverse opinions is inspiring. Working alongside the members and the dedicated staff has also allowed me to understand how they approach and balance career and personal life.

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Kimberly Ogden

The best thing about being a leader of AIChE is the interesting people I meet and the professional network I have. As a faculty member, in addition to meeting other faculty and students, AIChE is how I interact with industry professionals. This interaction is important because I want to be up to date with what I teach my students. I also often need industrial leaders to serve on research, development and deployment advisory boards, and AIChE is an outstanding source for contacts.

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For Treasurer

Rosemarie D. Wesson

Most recently I have volunteered in the Management Division of AIChE as Treasurer and on the Board of Directors. As a result of both experiences I have grown in both my personal and professional lives.

Personally I have met and made many new life-long friends — people who I probably would not have had the opportunity to get to know.

As I look back, I recognize that I have also grown professionally. The financial skills that I learned as Treasurer translate directly to some of my current and past job responsibilities. As a member of the Board, I also had the opportunity to practice management and conflict resolution skills. Not to say there were conflicts on the Board, but I learned how to ask the right questions in order to make appropriate well-informed decisions when there are opposing views. These are valuable skills which translate directly into a professional environment.

Participation in AIChE leadership allowed me the opportunity to learn and develop these skills in a less stressful environment.

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For Director

Kristi S. Anseth

AIChE is a vibrant professional society that offers opportunities to network with exceptional chemical engineers. I was fortunate to serve on both the Technical Operating Council and as Chair of the Awards Committee, and my fellow committee members helped me to appreciate the breadth of our profession, value diverse perspectives, and observe great leaders. I think that these experiences will help me be a better servant to our members if I am elected to the Board of Directors. Relevant to this conversation, the future value and impact of AIChE will rely on the input and engagement of students, postdoctoral associates, and early career professionals. The challenge for the AIChE leadership and Board is to effectively listen to and offer new opportunities and services for these members.

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Raymond A. Cocco

The AIChE has made a significant impact on my personal and professional life. For my personal life, it has to do with the lifelong friends I have made through the AIChE. Many of these friends have been part of my celebrations, personal events and even vacations. For me, socializing with discussions about technology is relaxation.

For my career, the AIChE has been the conduit for me to expand my technical knowledge, explore the validity of my own ideas, and learn the leadership skills needed to turn those ideas into practice. As a scientist, it is imperative that we have the critical mass of colleagues that we trust to test our hypothesis, vet our data and models, and help us implement. Even with this process in place, it takes a surprising about of patiences, fortitude and persistence to make it all work. I can imagine trying to do this alone. There certainly would be a lot more missteps and mistakes from my end.

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Anthony F. Fregosi

Holding leadership roles as a local section officer has given me more confidence in speaking before groups and leading projects. I have been able to hone these skills in a safe environment and transfer them to my professional work.

I have also been able to associate with my supervisors in a more relaxed venue and get to know them on a more personal level. While I neither sought out nor was granted any special privileges due to this association, I found it allowed me to understand better who I worked for and what mattered most to them.

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Alon V. McCormick

I have gotten to know many people who offered examples from their experience — usually good, often superb, and also sometimes more complex and still very valuable — that helped me think through how to approach new challenges and tasks. I’ve had the opportunity to serve in programming functions in several programming groups (but especially the Materials Engineering and Science Division), on the Executive Board of the Program Committee, on the Chemical Engineering Technology Operating Council (CTOC), on the Education and Accreditation Committee (a committee of the Career and Education Operating Council), and also as liaison from CTOC to the Societal Impact Operating Council (where it’s been an honor to participate on a Diversity and Inclusion task force). The range of perspective from these experiences have been extremely valuable to me, helping me to see more clearly the value that chemical engineering as a profession offers to society, in a way that is distinct from our related STEM fields. I’ve found many role models of various sorts — some of whom have also become allies or mentors. These all have aspects that are different from, and often broader than, what I have found in my own university and technical network. They give me glimpses of how the profession and educational needs may develop in the future, and how I might hope to better contribute to the profession and society.

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Lori T. McDowell

AIChE leadership has impacted my professional life by giving me opportunities to practice leadership skills, giving me many professional contacts and networking opportunities, and giving me opportunities to learn about many different areas of chemical engineering, especially in the fuels and petrochemicals area.The contacts I have met through AIChE leadership opportunities have helped me with both business challenges and new job opportunities. I have also met many incredible people who have enriched both my professional and personal life. AIChE leadership has impacted my personal life by giving me many fulfilling opportunities to make a difference, through student programs, scholarship and awards, the Fellows program and the other social programs that AIChE is involved in. Participating in AIChE leadership opportunities has also helped build confidence.

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Timothy J. Olsen

AIChE has opened many doors or opportunity within my career. For starters, I attend AIChE events to learn from the presentations and have the ability to network with attendees. I am a consultant, so having networking opportunities is important. As a consultant, I learn from refiners about their challenges and where automation can solve these issues. The combination of AIChE events and site visits enables me the opportunity to publish articles to share my experiences including solutions to common challenges. I have several publications over the past few years in CEP, PTQ, HPI, Offshore World, and AFPM daily newspapers.

In addition to publications, I also provide lunch and learn sessions at refineries as a means of sharing my experiences along with industry challenges. This allows the opportunity for Q&A to better understand the unique challenges that each manufacturer experiences.

Finally, I provide internal training for Emerson people to understand current and future trends in the refining industry. This ensures Emerson is prepared to take on the next challenges and better serve our clients.

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Mark A. Stadtherr

My volunteer AIChE leadership activities have allowed me to meet and work with many other chemical engineers, greatly expanding the scope of my professional network and leading to friendships that would not have developed otherwise. For me, these have been highly valuable aspects of AIChE leadership. Of course, meeting people and making new friends is likely to be a benefit of many kinds of volunteer activity, whether you are involved in leadership or not, or whether it is an AIChE activity or not. So, if you are thinking about volunteer work, consider getting involved in activities that match your personal goals and interests. I hope you will consider volunteering for AIChE activities — you will meet people with similar career goals and have the opportunity to grow your professional network and make a real difference in the world, and of course to make new friends.

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