AMS second-century countdown. Four who deserve our thanks.

The previous LOTRW post singled out Bill Gail (and his entire Centennial Committee and their extended network) for all their work in getting us to this 2020-moment. But AMS-member-gratitude shouldn’t stop there. We should also express our thanks to the four AMS executive directors over this time span who helped us reach this milestone and who continue to move the community forward. A word on each (not by any means a full listing of their accomplishments or contributions):

Ken Spengler (AMS executive director from 1946-1988; died 2010). The first executive director. He presided over a membership that grew from 2000 to 10,000 over the period. In 1958 he purchased what is now AMS headquarters at 45 Beacon Street. He later negotiated the 1974 transfer to AMS of publication of the prestigious journal Monthly Weather Review, established in 1872 by the United States Army Signal Corps, the predecessor of today’s National Weather Service.

Richard Hallgren (1988-1999). As director of the National Weather Service over the decade prior, Dick Hallgren had led a substantial Modernization and Restructuring. As executive director of the American Meteorological Society he repeated the feat. He added Interactive Information Processing sessions to the stable of conferences and symposia that made up the AMS Annual Meetings. At the same time, he grew the Meeting Exhibits, bringing in the corporations building weather radars and satellites and AWIPS. He established an international workshop that brought WMO leaders and heads of weather and hydrometeorological services worldwide to the Annual Meetings. He superintended the AMS 75thanniversary campaign. The synergies from all these measures led to the rapid growth of AMS meetings in terms of numbers of participants, papers presented, and revenues. He also established the AMS Education program. 

Ronald McPherson (1999-2004). As executive director, Ron McPherson established the AMS Policy Program, and initiated the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium, modeled loosely after the NCAR Summer Colloquium. He worked with Keith Seitter to streamline the publications process. He also expanded the offerings of the Education Program, developed the concept of the broadcast meteorologist as a “station scientist,” and broadened the participation of the private sector across the whole of the AMS. He embarked AMS on the process of preparing transition documents every four years for incoming administrations.

Keith Seitter (2004- present). As head of AMS publications for a decade prior, and subsequently as executive director, Keith Seitter has navigated a relatively smooth, profitable course for AMS journals – this over two turbulent decades ushered in with electronic publishing and continuing to the present day with the trend to open access. (Other scientific and professional societies have experienced far more dollar loss and disruption over the period.) He oversaw the addition of social science and policy sessions to AMS Annual Meetings beginning in 2006 and in 2009 founded the new journal Weather, Climate and Society, providing essential infrastructure for integrating social sciences with meteorological research and services. Continuing Ron McPherson’s work, he supervised major changes to AMS organizational and meeting structure to facilitate greater dialog and more effective collaboration among the public-, private-, and academic sectors of what is now called collectively the Enterprise, as called for by the National Academy’s 2003 Fair Weather report. He laid important groundwork for the nascent International Forum of Meteorological Societies. He’s fostered robust member engagement in the day-to-day work of the Society as well as the development of new initiatives and otherwise repositioning AMS for the second century. He’s developed key collaborations with the American Institute of Physics and the American geosciences Institute.

Whew! A lot of work, and still continuing. The four couldn’t be more different, but they share(d) a common version to the spotlight. All would be quick to redirect any thanks and credit to their staff and the larger AMS membership. Nevertheless…

Thanks to all four of you!

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