For the past three decades, Kathleen Murphy has been an integral part of our industry and American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). A Certified Industrial Hygienist since 1990, Murphy has gone back and forth between “pure” industrial hygiene, environmental health and safety (EHS), and product stewardship. Over the course of her career, she has worked for government, private industry, and consulting, which has provided her with a wealth of interesting and challenging opportunities. Murphy is currently the global director of regulatory affairs for The Sherwin Williams Company and our AIHA Board president-elect.
(She's also a star in the latest episode of the award-winning I Am IH video series!)
We chatted with Murphy about her experience with AIHA and what she’s looking forward to in the next year as she settles into her new role at the end of AIHce EXP 2019.
AIHA: How did you first get involved with AIHA?
Kathleen Murphy (KM): I joined the Northeastern Ohio Local Section about 30 years ago. It was a way to meet people, learn more about the profession, and find study partners and materials for the CIH exam. I went through the leadership track and helped plan two annual one-day conferences. Eventually I also joined National AIHA, where I participated on committees and in working groups. A friend asked me to run for the Board of Directors. I served three years as a director, ran and served three years as secretary, and am currently the president-elect. I will become president at the end of AIHce EXP 2019 in Minneapolis.
AIHA: You were elected as Vice President in 2017. Could you tell me a little bit about your experience on the Board?
KM: Being on the Board has been a great experience for me. The Board members are committed to volunteer service and our profession. We work hard to make good decisions on behalf of AIHA and industrial hygiene. Our staff support is fantastic. Staff members take our ideas and bring them to life in conjunction with our volunteer groups.
AIHA: How will your experience on the AIHA Board shape your transition into the presidency?
KM: We really work as a team, so the transition should be quite smooth. The biggest change will be planning and running our meetings. I’ve had plenty of good examples during my time on the Board, and Cindy Ostrowski will still be there as past president. My favorite change is our method of selecting volunteers for projects or working groups, which is to go to an open call. We have engaged with a lot of new folks who have brought great ideas.
AIHA: What do you see as your biggest challenge for the upcoming year?
KM: AIHA has more projects and ideas than we have resources (people and money). The biggest challenge is to make sure that we select the best projects and complete them in a timely manner.
AIHA: What excites you the most about our industry right now?
KM: The skills that you learn as an industrial hygienist can be used in so many different ways. It is fascinating to see profile stories or talk with others about what they are doing. We need to do everything we can to engage students through emeritus members to help us spread the word about what a great profession we have.
AIHA: What was your favorite part about AIHce EXP 2018 in Philadelphia?
KM: I have attended almost every AIHce for 25 years. My favorite thing never changes — seeing friends and colleagues and catching up on what is new in their lives and their careers. Networking has been an essential part of my career success. Of course, the educational piece is also important, and there are always great sessions and professional development courses.
AIHA: What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s AIHce EXP?
KM: As president-elect and president you work more closely with some of our related organizations. There are normally scheduled engagements during AIHce EXP with many of their leaders where you can really try to identify more or better ways to work together to promote total worker health and safety.
AIHA: What are your top priorities for the coming year as president?
KM: Maintain a financially solid organization and a good working relationship between the Board, staff, and volunteers. Select the best projects, and make sure that we have appropriate stewardship to get them done. Enjoy whatever experiences come my way.
AIHA: Do you have any advice for our members?
KM: Find a way to be involved — you will always get more out of it than you put in, and you will probably meet a new friend or two.
Berrak Sarikaya is a natural conversation driver with an undeniable belief in the power of community. A proven content strategist and speaker, she resides in Seattle, WA. Follow her on Twitter.