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Madeleine Jacobs named new executive director for world's largest scientific society

Madeleine Jacobs

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The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, has named Madeleine Jacobs as its next executive director and CEO, effective January 1, 2004.  She will succeed John K Crum, following his retirement after 20 years as CEO.

Jacobs, who is editor-in-chief of the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, Chemical & Engineering News, was selected from a pool of 250 applicants following a year-long search. The 128-year-old Society has a membership of more than 160,000 chemists and chemical engineers and a staff of 1,900, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.  The Society is a leader in scientific publishing, education and public policy, and in communicating chemistry to the public.

"Madeleine Jacobs has both the vision and the vibrancy we need to embrace new opportunities in the 21st century," said ACS Board Chairman Nina I. McClelland in announcing the new appointment.  "She brings to this position nearly three decades of proven leadership and management in world-renowned scientific and technical organizations, a deep passion for and knowledge of chemistry, and a reputation as a dedicated ambassador for the chemical enterprise. She is well-respected and well-poised to lead the organization at this exciting time for science, having demonstrated excellence in strategic thinking, innovation, financial stewardship, and effectively communicating chemistry's central role in society."

A chemist and science journalist, Jacobs is well connected in the scientific and chemical communities at all levels, including the top leadership in industry, academe, and government. She is a sought-after public speaker-on topics ranging from gender and ethnic equity in science to the challenges facing chemists in a global environment-by organizations ranging from top universities to international science organizations to major chemical and pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Recently awarded an honorary doctorate of science from George Washington University, Jacobs has received dozens of other honors and awards in her career as a writer, editor, innovator, and motivator of young people, including the ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences and the New York Academy of Sciences Women's History Month Award.  At the invitation of the Nobel Chemistry Committee, she attended the most recent Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm.

In 1993, she was named managing editor for Chemical & Engineering News. In 1995, she became the magazine's first woman editor-in-chief. She has brought the publication to its highest level of editorial excellence in its 80-year history and has contributed to the success of its advertising efforts.

Before that, she spent 14 years with the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex, where she launched the nationally syndicated Smithsonian News Service, managed publication operations for several periodicals, and in 1986 became director of public affairs. In that role, she served as principal spokesperson and public affairs strategist for the entire Institution.  Earlier in her career she held a similar position at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology).

Jacobs holds a B.S. in chemistry from George Washington University (highest honors and distinction, 1968) and completed coursework for a master's degree in organic chemistry at the University of Maryland (1969).  Her first job after graduate school was as a reporter for Chemical & Engineering News (from 1969 to 1972).

Thirty-two years later she considers the organization and her role from a very different perspective:

"I am thrilled to be chosen to lead the American Chemical Society," Jacobs says. "Thanks to the leadership of John Crum, the organization has been enormously successful in advancing the chemical enterprise. It will be a great honor and privilege to work with the ACS Board of Directors, ACS membership, and the talented and dedicated staff of the ACS to bring the Society to an even higher level of excellence."

Jacobs, 57, is a member of the Society and of the National Association of Science Writers. She is a native Washingtonian and has lived with her husband, artist Joseph Jacobs, in Gaithersburg, Md., for 31 years. 

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(EDITOR'S NOTE - Digital photograph of Madeleine Jacobs is available upon request.)