Dear Chicago Society for Coatings Technology Members,
I’m thrilled and honored to be leading us into CSCT’s 102nd year as an organization! I wanted to start off by introducing myself as your president for the 2021-2022 session of CSCT. Thinking back to the president’s message given by Guy Lopez in 2018, he said something that resonated with me. He mentioned how in the 80s, most paint personnel ended up there by accident. And while I didn’t start my professional career until 2013, I have a very similar story. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 2012 with degrees in both Molecular Biology and Psychology. Doing my undergraduate research in neuroscience and toxicology, I was bummed to learn that unless I wanted to stay in academia, all the big toxicology labs were out on the east coast. Not wanting to move from the Chicagoland area and knowing I wanted to stay in research, I began looking at jobs closer to home. In January of 2013 I was hired as an intern in the color lab of True Value Manufacturing and as my internship wrapped up, the technical director saw value in my research background and hired me on as a chemist, where I’ve been working ever since. As it turned out, my biology background proved extremely useful as I spearheaded our new biocide initiative when we made the move to low VOC paint.
I quickly realized that this industry was filled with individuals who had spent their lives devoted to improving coatings and I wanted to learn as much as I could from them. That’s when I found this incredible organization – the Chicago Society for Coatings Technology. I began my journey as I assume most of you did, by attending the monthly technical dinners which provided me extremely valuable knowledge, and even more valuable networking opportunities. My network began to grow and I realized I wanted to be a part of the board, helping to ensure the longevity of the organization to come. As someone on the board with closest to the least industry experience, I feel so blessed to be working alongside longtime board members who remain on committees and continue to give their time year after year. These members have become some of my favorite industry mentors and I feel like they deserve recognition for their continued contributions to the society. I want to thank Mike Beland, Guy Lopez, John Cox, Nathan Kofira, Herb Waltenspiel, Thor Jondahl, Bob Milano, and Mike Laing.
With the pandemic putting a halt on social functions last year and still trickling into this year, the board has been more determined than ever to maintain our monthly technical meetings. We will continue to offer both in-person and virtual options to fit everyone’s comfort level. The addition of virtual meetings last year allowed us to reach 3x the amount of members we had been typically getting at in-person dinner meetings even before the pandemic. Additionally, I’m happy to announce that despite a shrinking Chicagoland industry, our membership numbers remain high.
With education at the heart of our organization, we remain committed to contributing to the education of both prospective and current industry members. Earlier in 2021 we awarded our Merit Scholarship to Sarah Mahoney, and together with CPCA we awarded Joint Scholarships to Chad Berkich, Kyla Whiting, Alicia Pinchok, and Steve Boone. We awarded grants to the chemistry departments at both DePaul University and Purdue University Northwest for sending students to present current research at our technical meetings. Looking ahead to 2022, we are hard at work prepping for the next Windy City Coatings Course which will take place May 17th & 18th offering both introductory and advanced tracks led by industry experts.
While we have much to celebrate this year, we also have reason to grieve as we remember two members who passed away earlier this year. We lost Hal Pinnick in June, a longtime educator member and our main contact at PNW for our grant program, and we lost Dusty Rhodes in July, a longtime member and coatings professional. I personally had the pleasure of meeting both of these men at past dinner meetings and both were such a joy to meet and converse with. I will remember them both fondly.
As I think ahead to the future, I am proud to be serving on the board this year with Martin Wasilewski (member at large), Michelle Bauer (secretary), Yucel Tavolara (membership chair), Simonida Grubjesic (vice president), Kathie Hacek-Catlett (1st past president), and Kathryn Carroll (2nd past president). These members pour their heart and soul into this organization and I couldn’t be prouder to be in their company. To ensure the continued success of this organization and with a rotating board, it’s imperative that we have new volunteers each year. I would like to encourage members both young and old to seriously consider volunteering for the board. While our older members can offer their industry longevity and expansive experience, younger members can offer fresh ideas and new innovation on how we can continue to grow and expand. Please reach out to myself or any of the board members if you have an interest in joining our incredible team.
With that, I’ll wrap up my president’s message. I look forward to seeing you all at one or more of our many functions this session year.
Kelsey Waughon 2021-2022 CSCT President True Value Manufacturing