I would like to give everyone a report on the activities of the IHMM Board during my tenure as a Board Member in the past 8 years. Serving on the Board was both and honor and a privilege. I was honored to be elected by my fellow certificates in 2014 and then re-elected for a second term in 2018. I rotated off the Board at the end of 2022. It was a privilege to serve my fellow certificates’ as we continued to enhance the value of the credentials to individuals, the profession and society as a whole. With the nation and the world facing ongoing environmental, health and safety issues, the leadership provided by the IHMM has never been in higher demand. It was also a privilege to serve with other members of the IHMM Board. It was apparent to me right from the start, through today; that we had a lot of smart and talented individuals that volunteered their time and talent to move the organization forward.
Trials, tribulations and accomplishments
When I signed on the Board, I had no idea that we would go through three Executive Directors. We did and hiring them was a time consuming challenge. The IHMM is fortunate to have Eugene A. Guilford Jr., CAE as its current Executive Director. Among other talents, Mr. Guilford has experience on Capitol Hill in Government Affairs and the IHMM has benefited from his experience in this area, especially since our previous Executive Directors did not have such skill sets. The IHMM has also the extensive expertise of Patricia Buley, IOM, ICE, CCP, in helping secure and maintain our examination and credentialing activities with ANSI and CESB. Ms. Buley also served as an interim Executive Director during one of our transition periods.
Facilities and Technology
IHMM has long been headquartered in Rockville, MD. However, our old offices were aging and need of both a physical and technological update. In the past 5 years, IHMM moved to a much more modern office space with favorable lease terms, with amenities that allowed for meetings of the Board of Directors, large training sessions and sufficient office space for expansion. It also allowed for virtual Board and Committee meetings, along with meeting with vendors.
During my first term, IHMM transitioned to a technology program called AA or Association Anywhere, which allowed for our back office operations to be essentially automated. This automation proved to be a challenge for both the vendor and our staff. It took several years to completely implement, was over budget and caused some service disruptions for certificates’. Eventually the vendor put in the enough effort to get the program to work and the staff developed enough expertise to make it work.
This was so much so, that most of our staff was able to work remotely prior to and during the COVID pandemic. Indeed, applicants and certificants’ alike can provide and update basic data base information, complete applications for exams, certification and re-certification, all on line and provide complex and varied documentation to show qualifications for certifications and certification maintenance points (CMP’s); all of which was done by review of paper documents in the past. The staff is able to rapidly review this documentation for quality control purposes, then processes the related information and associated fees in quick order. Applicants and Certificants now receive pertinent and timely communications from the IHMM several times a year. Gone are the times where there was mass and sometimes panicked document dump to achieve recertification once every five years. This software is also scalable from our 3-4 original certifications, to the 9 that IHMM offers today.
In parallel with the AA software, the IHMM was able to hire a CPA to update the accounting practices, use of Quickbooks and timely budgeting procedures. The Institute still commits about 60 percent of its budget to operations and about 40 percent to reinvestment for future programs. However, with timely financial data, the Board and the Executive Director are able to make confident decisions in real time.
Much like any organization you can think of, the IHMM faces a demographic cliff, with many of its certificates now going into retirement. Seeing this cliff, the IHMM made a conscience decision to try and expand internationally. Bob West, CHMM our past Chairperson spent untold hours traveling to China and trying to have a quasigovernmental entity promote IHMM Certifications’ in China. The Board committed financial and staff resources to make this happen, but the political climate soured along the way. Unfortunately, our efforts went nowhere. However, the need for better management of hazardous materials in China has not gone away and perhaps the climate will change to recognize the value of IHMM certifications in the future.
Later, the Board decided that acquisition of other credentials may pave the way for expansion and maintenance of certifications. Enter the CSHM or Certified Safety and Health Managers. IHMM acquired these “safety side’ certifications and has enhanced their program activities. Two CSHM Certificants were added to the IHMM Board. Integration of those certifications continues to this day, with several of the larger ones being reformatted so that they can be recognized by ANSI and CESB in the future.
More recently, the Board recognized and addressed gaps in our offerings. The IHMM is now enhancing its credentials for students, practitioners and trainers. Thus, people in our profession can find something of value from IHMM from the beginning of their career by participating in student chapters, until the end, when they can apply for “Emeritus” status.
Enter the Hazardous Materials Society “HMS” and IHMM Marketing Activities
Concurrent with the expansion and management plans noted above, it was painfully apparent the IHMM was facing a decline in the number of applications and recertification’s . Since 1996, IHMM functions were essentially split into the IHMM, being the examination and certification body for hazardous materials, while the ACHMM or Academy of Certified Hazardous Material Managers conducted training, technical outreach and social functions. Along the way the ACHMM morphed into the AHMP or Alliance of Hazardous Material Professionals. Frankly, the IHMM Board felt the focus and intensity of the AHMP faded and the IHMMs ability to stem the tide of diminishing applications and recertification’s along with it. While the IHMM still sponsors activities via the AHMP, the Board created the HMS to further enhance the training, technical outreach and social functions necessary to attract new applicants and maintain recertifications. The IHMM itself began daily outreach to applicants and certificants with a fully interactive website, weekly newsletters, a Collaboration website, HMS activities, governmental affairs advocacy, regulatory and technical advisories and training via specialty providers. As of the end of 2022, and hopefully post-COVID, new applications continue to rise modestly, the rate of overall decline in recertifications has been stemmed and some of the smaller certifications are seeing first time increases.
I would like to say that IHMM is in better shape than when I found it. However, one person does not a Board make and the Board acts on the collective efforts of its members, as well as its Executive Director, staff, committees and volunteers, to provide value to its certificants.’ The IHMM needs to stay close to its “core mission of delivering professional standards of the highest excellence for credentials in the hazardous materials, health, safety and dangerous goods communities of practice.” IHMM needs to do that in changing times and changing demographics, so it’s time for the new members of the Board to move the organization forward. Marketing challenges will remain paramount. Technology operations will become dated and again will need to be updated. Certifications will need to be updated to account for changing times and expanded to cover the “environmental side,” the “safety side” and the “transportation side” communities, from a time when a student becomes interested in the profession until a time that professional wants to maintain emeritus status with the IHMM.
All the best,
Mark Baumgardner, CHMM
Past Board Member, IHMM
Fellow, Institute of Hazardous Materials Management
- Written by Mark Baumgardner, CHMM
- Created: 05 May 2023
- Last Updated: 08 May 2023
August Mack gives webinars approximately twice a month on a variety of environmental, health, and safety topics. The webinars are typically on Wednesday afternoons at 3pm EST. The speakers are experts in their field and willing to answer any question you may have on a topic.
- Written by Elise Allen
- Created: 25 January 2023
- Last Updated: 25 January 2023