April 2023 Spotlight: Steve Canham
Steve Canham, Associate Director, Department of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics Novartis, is the treasurer for NESACS.
In this Member Volunteer Spotlight, learn more how Steve became involved in volunteering as part of ACS, opportunities for mentorship, and advice to others interested in volunteering.
How did you become involved in this volunteer opportunity / position (including details regarding application / interview process if applicable)?
I first got engaged in the ACS as an undergrad when a mentor, Sean Seymore, recommended I join the Younger Chemist Committee. I was engaged with the National YCC through grad school and enjoyed engaging with the ACS as it broadened my network and gave me the opportunity to experiment and build confidence in myself as a leader. After taking my first job at Novartis I was connected with Les McQuire who encouraged me to continue my engagement with the ACS and helped me connect with the Corporate Associates Committee as well as NESACS. I helped to host a monthly NESACS meeting at Novartis – unfortunately in the middle of a February blizzard!!! Despite not being a Process Chemist, I was engaged as the Novartis representative in the Process Chemistry Symposia for a few years helping with the organization and eventually hosting it at Novartis. The structure and planning gave me inspiration to join up with a few others and start the Chemical Biology version, ChemBio in the Hub. For these roles I worked closely with the NESACS treasurer and was happy to help step into the treasurer role when it became vacant. As the treasurer role is an elected position I put my name on the ballot last fall and the rest was history.
For this volunteer opportunity / position did you have a mentor and/or do you serve as a mentor to others participants in this program?
Ashis Saha and Jim Piper have been outstanding mentors to me so far as the treasurer. They have been patient bringing me up to speed on the treasurer roles, bookkeeping and NESACS. I’ve also been fortunate to work with many of the other chairs and board members of NESACS. I’m happy to chat with others that might be interested in stepping into volunteering for NESACS.
What has been the most rewarding / exciting component of this volunteer opportunity / position?
The number and quality of the programming NESACS is top notch! I’ve enjoyed the awards, symposia and monthly meetings and feel fortunate to be part of such an active local ACS section. As a new treasurer, I’ve enjoyed getting a front row seat and up close look at all the section’s activities.
What advice would you give to other individuals considering this volunteer opportunity / position?
Don’t hold back thinking that you won’t be capable or a good fit. There is a strong support network and if you have the interest and willingness you can learn quickly. I wasn’t a process chemist and I didn’t have any bookkeeping or treasurer experience before jumping in but now I do!