2023 Note from section past-chair: Everything in its Right Place

Ah, the first week of January: time to emerge from my two-week hibernation to ‘circle-back’ on those piling-up emails. I, for one, come back recharged every year, albeit feeling a bit guilty for not being more productive when I had time.

While I enjoyed my time off, there is something refreshing about returning to a productive rhythm, to my normalcy. I say this after one day (check in with me again next week).

Navigating COVID has made this cadence all too familiar. As much as I have enjoyed the tiny victories provided over this past year: the returning to conferences, more relaxed family and friend gatherings, movie theaters!, I know it won’t be long before I once again take these activities for granted.

As a Section, we have certainly trudged through. The uncertainty of a pandemic made it nearly impossible to execute perfect plans. When cases spiked, reverting to remote meetings and canceling the MIM (again) was the right thing to do (no worries, the 2023 MIM is back!). Those were hard conversations, truly, but the safety of our membership comes first.

But if we’re anything, we’re resilient. We bounced back to a fantastic Morley Award and presentation in May, given to the very deserving James Burrington. We held our first-ever “member appreciation outing” at Progressive field over the Summer and rounded out the year with a Fall programming schedule and member response that made me feel like – at last – we might be rounding the corner (now, go knock on wood!).

COVID has forced us to evolve: in how we operate and how we prioritize our time. Walter White said it best: “Technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change.”

So, has our Section endured change? Yes and no. Here we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine our future. Your responses to our member survey this summer helped us understand what we’re doing right, and – as importantly – how we can better serve our members. Over the next few months, we’ll launch into strategic planning to help bring these visions into reality. 

And yet, behind me sits the ultimate symbol of our persevering stability: our “Chair plaque”, representing every Chair of the Cleveland Section of the ACS dating back to 1893. I don’t know who most of these people are, nor have I been involved with the section for more than a handful of years. But as I stare at the 120 or so that came before me, it is apparent that the stability of this Section came by no mere accident. This firm bedrock has formed the unshakeable foundation upon which our Section stands, and remains standing, despite what life throws our way.

Deep at its core this Section is quite simple: a group of people who care deeply for the welfare of our Group. In that sense, some things never change.

I am honored to add my name to that long list, but more so to carry forward what it means.


Pete Psarras
Chair 2022