The EMC Society Board of Directors has historically always had
four officers over the years. They have consisted of a Chairman
(1959 – 1971) or President (1972 – Present); Vice-Chairman
or Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. It is of historical
interest to look at those positions over the years and the people
that have filled them. We will look at the position of Secretary
in this article and the other positions in future articles.
The first Secretary of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)
Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference (PGRFI) was
elected at the Administrative Committee meeting on November 20,
1957. The term of office expired on June 30, 1959, for an initial
term of duty of about 19 months. The honor of being the first
Secretary fell to a gentleman named Albert R. Kall, who was also
one of the Founders of the EMC Society. He was re-elected for
a second term from July 1, 1959 until June 30, 1960 (the initial
terms of office were from mid-year to the next mid-year). He then
took some time-off and came back as Secretary again from July
1963 until June of 1964.
The second Secretary of the IRE-PGRFI was Milton Kant, another
Founder of the “Group.” He served a one-year term
from July 1, 1960 until June 30, 1961. Mr. Kant, a Life Member
of the IEEE EMCS, is still alive at the writing of this article
and has been communicating with the EMC Society on the 50th Anniversary
Activities. (Author’s Note – Mr. Kant was asked to
review this article before publication; he willingly did so and
made several important additions to the article.)
The third Secretary of the IRE-PGRFI was Zigmund V. Grobowski
and he served two consecutive terms as Secretary from July 1,
1961 until June 30, 1963. He then went on to serve as Vice-Chairman
and Chairman of the “RFI” engineering group. It was
during this time that the IRE and the American Institute of Electrical
Engineering (AIEE) merged to become the IEEE and the name of the
group changed from the “IRE-PGRFI” to the “IEEE
Professional Technical Group on RFI” and then to the “IEEE
Professional Technical Group on Electromagnetic Compatibility.”
The change from RFI to EMC was controversial at that time and
was made only after lengthy discussions!
The fourth person to serve as Secretary of the PTG on EMC was
James S. Hill and he served a one–year term from July 1,
1964 until June 30, 1965. It was during this time that the IEEE
decided that “Professional Technical” should be dropped
from the title and so the title of the organization became the
“IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Group.”
The fifth person to serve as Secretary of the EMC Group was Leonard
W. Thomas, Sr. and he served from July 1, 1965 until December
31, 1981 or a period of over 16 years! He was also a Founder of
the PGRFI. He provided great stability to the organization as
its Secretary in its early years of operation; he served under
10 different leaders of the EMC Group! During his long term of
service, the EMC group (under A.H. Sullivan, Jr., as chairman),
changed the term of office from mid-year to calendar year in 1966.
Also, on January 1, 1978; the “IEEE EMC Group” became
the “IEEE EMC Society;” the name we use today.
Mr. Thomas received the first IEEE EMC Society Laurence G. Cumming
Award for Outstanding Service in 1979 for his many years of service
as Secretary of the EMC Administrative Committee (EMC Board of
Leonard Thomas was succeeded by L. A. “Art” Wall,
another Washington, DC personality. He became the Society’s
sixth person to serve as a Secretary and he served two years as
Secretary from January 1, 1982 until December 31, 1983.
Mr. Wall was followed by Donald Clark who served as Secretary
from January 1, 1984 until December 31, 1985. Don went on to serve
as President of the EMC Society in 1988 and 1989. Mr. Clark and
Mr. Grobowski are the only two secretaries that went on to become
President of the EMC Society.
Gilda Haskins was the first female Secretary of the IEEE EMC Society.
She served a two-year term from January 1, 1986 until December
She was followed by our current Secretary, Janet Nichols O’Neil.
Janet is a daughter of one of the Founders of the EMC Society,
Fred Nichols. She started her Secretarial duties on January 1,
1988 and continues to serve today. She surpassed Leonard Thomas’s
longevity record of 16.5 years in 2005 and is now in her 18th
year of service as Secretary of the EMC Society of the IEEE. She
has provided continuous and complete coverage of the Board meetings
and a consistently high-level of general secretarial service for
the Board over those many years. Janet received the Laurence G.
Cumming Award in 1996 for her years of outstanding service as
The EMC Society and its predecessors are indebted to the many
contributions made to the success of the Society by the outstanding
service provided to the Board of Directors by the past Secretaries.
The IEEE EMC Society especially notes the long service records
of outstanding service by Leonard W. Thomas, Sr. and Janet Nichols
|Brief Review of EMCS History During
Notes on the founding of the Institute of Radio Engineers
(IRE) Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference
February 1957 - Informal discussions during the Third Armour
Conference on Radio Frequency Interference in Chicago on the
need for an organization for people working in the field of
Radio Frequency Interference (RFI).
March 11, 1957 - Letter sent out to people in the northeast
area of the USA inviting them to a meeting to be held in New
York City to discuss the formation of an organization for
April 10, 1957 - Meeting held at the Wilkie Memorial building
with about 60 people present. Consensus of meeting was to
try to form an IRE Professional Group on RFI. A Steering Committee
was formed from the attendees including Messrs R. W. Fairweather,
Zigmund V. Grobowski, Albert R. Kall, Milt Kant, James. P.
McNaul, Leonard Milton, Harold Schwenk, and Ralph M. Showers.
May 2, 1957 – The Steering Committee met at IRE Headquarters
on East 71st Street in New York City. All Steering Committee
members listed above were present.
July 3, 1957 – A formal petition was submitted to the
IRE for a formation of a Professional Group on RFI. A total
of 326 signatures accompanied the formal petition.
October 10, 1957 – IRE approval was granted for the
new Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference.
November 20, 1957 – First Meeting of the Administrative
Committee of the Professional Group on RFI was held at the
Berkeley-Carteret Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey.