Secretaries of the IEEE EMC Society

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 Directors).
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 31, 1987.
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 Secretary.

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 O’Neil. EMC

Brief Review of EMCS History During 1957

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 RFI

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.

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