is retired senior vice president and now principal consultant at The EI Group, an environmental health and safety consulting firm in Morrisville, North Carolina. Send feedback to The Synergist.

Reflecting the Holiday Season by Giving Back
As the holiday season approaches, our usual impulse is to reflect on the year’s accomplishments. Given the difficulties many of us have faced in 2020, we could be forgiven for looking ahead to the new year, to put the public health and economic crises behind us in anticipation of better times. Yet AIHA in 2020 has much to be proud of, especially because of the enormous challenges we faced—personally, professionally, and as an association—due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And perhaps none of our accomplishments this year were more important than our continuing support for the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation.
The Foundation is AIHA’s main vehicle for ensuring the future of the industrial hygiene profession. Since 1982, the Foundation has distributed more than $2 million in scholarship funds to students pursuing degrees in IH or occupational and environmental health and safety. Nearly 700 students at more than 50 schools and universities have used Foundation scholarships to pay for essential supplies such as textbooks and defray the costs of tuition. This year alone, 55 IH/OEHS students received more than $87,000 worth of scholarships.
AIHA in 2020 has much to be proud of, especially because of the enormous challenges we faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because the Foundation helps ensure a pipeline of outstanding students to replace retiring professionals, no single program is more essential for the long-term health of our profession—and, by extension, the health of the workers we protect.
GENEROUS SUPPORT This summer, the Foundation granted its first-ever President’s Leadership Award to Audrey L. Bowen, a master’s candidate at Johns Hopkins University. The award consists of a major scholarship and a professional development opportunity to attend an international conference in occupational health and safety. To qualify, the winner must demonstrate scientific, literary, and research acumen in industrial hygiene and environmental and occupational health; a strong propensity toward leadership, volunteerism, and problem-solving; and a passion for making a tangible and positive impact on worker health and safety.
The President’s Leadership Award is the highest scholarship and developmental honor distributed annually by the Foundation, and it was made possible thanks to a generous endowment from John Henshaw, a past president of AIHA and a former OSHA administrator. When the award was formally launched last year, John explained that his generosity was motivated by a desire to give back to the profession that had provided him with such a rewarding vocation.
John’s gift is just the latest example of our members’ support for students through the Foundation. I don’t have the space to name them all, but I’d like to mention Bob Wheeler, a Foundation donor who passed away in October. The Robert W. Wheeler scholarship was first awarded for the 2012–2013 school year and has helped eight students pursue degrees in relevant fields. In announcing Bob’s passing, his family asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Bob’s name to the Foundation and one other charity.
SEASON’S GREETINGS Of course, it’s not possible for all of us to endow scholarships or underwrite awards, especially in the uncertain circumstances many of us face as 2020 winds down. But for those of us who are in a position to help, a gift to the Foundation may be the most satisfying way to ring out the year of COVID-19: our contributions will help develop the professionals most responsible for protecting workers from future pandemics, among other hazards. To make a donation or for more information, visit the Foundation's home page. The membership renewal process also includes an easy way to donate, so if you haven’t renewed yet, you can take care of both tasks at the same time through the AIHA website.
Whether or not you’re able to contribute to the Foundation, I deeply appreciate everything you do on behalf of our association, I wish you the fondest of holiday seasons, and I look forward to better times for all of us in 2021.