A Great First Year

Meeting Your Needs, Building Relationships, and Advancing Our Mission
Katharine E. Morgan

Thank you for your support in my first year as president. Thinking about the last 12 months, I wanted to reflect on some big steps we have taken together.

In January, the ASTM International family had the opportunity to bid farewell to Jim Thomas, our president for 25 years. I am happy to report that Jim is enjoying a more leisurely lifestyle with his family. He remains a trusted adviser to the ASTM team and, of no surprise to any of us, follows our initiatives and activities closely. Our staff is grateful to Jim for his continued, unwavering support.

On Feb. 1 — just seven hours into my tenure — 2017 Chairman of the Board Tom Marsh and I greeted attendees of the committee week at a breakfast in Norfolk, Virginia. I was touched by the warm welcome I received there and at the subsequent spring committee weeks in Toronto. Being among ASTM members and talking with you about your expectations, needs, and hopes is energizing. I place great value on the times throughout the year that we have the opportunity to interact in person. 

Being motivated to better serve ASTM stakeholders and improve on your experience, we are already taking action on feedback from the January membership survey. For example, members wanted better tools to access standards, so we started providing access to content via the Compass platform. We hope that members find the new functionalities helpful and look forward to your feedback. With the support of our board of directors, we have invested in this technology platform – our flagship product – which houses access to all ASTM content as well as third-party content and productivity tools. In sum, Compass is now integrating both the standards development and innovative services aspects of our mission through its state-of-the-art technology. 

Throughout the year, I appreciated the opportunity to connect or reconnect with organizations throughout the global standardization community. 

I am a firm believer in the notion that we can go farther together than alone. That’s why we explored potential new synergies and partnerships with staffs from a number of organizations: the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, DIN — the German Institute for Standardization, the American Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Fire Protection Association, and others.

Also, staff based at our headquarters and abroad have deepened our relationships worldwide. Highlights of the year included connecting with hundreds of people during our Asia Road Show in Korea and China as well as a Central America Road Show through El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama. The traveling teams discussed standardization activities and how ASTM’s laboratory services — including training, proficiency testing, and certification — are valuable resources to build capacity and serve as critical pillars in a quality infrastructure program. 

We continued to build on ASTM International’s Memorandum of Understanding program, which now includes 106 nations and regions. I was pleased to connect with representatives from many of these MOU partners (alongside Teresa Cendrowska, our vice president of global cooperation, and Jim Olshefsky, our director of external relations) at a joint meeting of COPANT — the Pan American Standards Commission — and the Pacific Area Standards Congress in Vancouver, British Columbia. This program is helping emerging countries access up-to-date and market-relevant standards, boosting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of good health and well-being; affordable and clean energy; sustainable cities and communities; and industry, innovation, and infrastructure. 

My key takeaway from all of these interactions is that the desire for ASTM standards, tools, and resources throughout the world has never been stronger and more far reaching.

That same sentiment was also reinforced during our visit to the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) General Assembly in Berlin, Germany.The theme was “Open Minded. Open for Change.” As the leader of an international organization committed to finding new ways to meet the needs of our members and global stakeholders, I was delighted to serve on a panel addressing the importance of partnerships. I noted how ASTM has Partner Standards Development Organization agreements with ISO in the technical areas of radiation processing and additive manufacturing. In a dynamically converging world, there may be other opportunities in emerging areas for joint work with ISO or other organizations. 

However, an equally important mechanism for partnership is recognition of existing standards. There are multiple organizations that offer high quality, market-relevant standards with global application. I told the Assembly attendees, “It is critical to recognize all these organizations and the role they play in the international standardization community, to embrace and leverage the differences and, most importantly, to value the products they deliver.” My vision is for global cooperation that is responsive to the high calling we have been given by those that rely on us.

Finally, I should note that giving back is also part of who we are as an organization. We donate time and funds to various charitable organizations, with a focus on educational, environmental, and health-related organizations in our local communities. Notably, with the support of our board, we also provided donations to help response efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters this year. In fact, some of our board members, their spouses, and staff took part in a service project during our fall board meeting in Houston to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

It has been a terrific year. It is my privilege to work with a dedicated board and standing committees, our fine collection of technical experts, and a dynamic staff.  We have had much success. We have much more to accomplish. As I said 11 months ago, Mission Forward!

Katharine Morgan
President, ASTM International

Issue Month: 
Issue Year: