John W. “Jack” Hess
2015 Distinguished Service Award
Presented to John W. “Jack” Hess
The success of organizations like the Geological Society of America depends critically on its professional leadership. Jack Hess, the 2015 Distinguished Service Awardee, served with distinction as GSA’s Executive Director for thirteen exciting and sometimes very challenging years, retiring in December 2014 to assume the position of President of the GSA Foundation. Jack was the longest serving Executive Director of the Society.
Jack left the Society in much better shape than he found it. His legacy includes the following: He led the effort to right the ship financially, first opened a geoscience policy office in Washington, increased global engagement, enhanced GSA’s education and outreach activities by adding innovative programs, increased membership, strengthened efforts to improve the diversity in the profession, launched two new scientific journals, embraced GSA’s entry into social media, and helped GSA start down the path to change the publishing financial model. Perhaps most importantly, Jack was instrumental (with then Foundation President Geoff Feiss) in making GSA and GSAF a fully functioning team. In all these efforts, Jack provided the Headquarters leadership required for planning, coordination, implementation, and follow-through necessary to move a large, complex organization forward.
Jack is modest about his role in these accomplishments, but those who have been involved know just how important his directorship has been to our Society. Any of the accomplishments above would probably qualify Jack for this recognition. Taken together, they document his leadership and service as the most significant of any past Executive Director.
Thank you Hap for your very kind citation. It has been a real honor and privilege to have served GSA as its Executive Director for 13 years. I really enjoyed working with 13 different GSA Presidents and Councils and a very dedicated and hard-working GSA staff. What was accomplished during those 13 years was the product of a great team effort of GSA volunteer leadership and GSA staff.
GSA has been my professional home since graduate student days over 40 years ago. I credit my early and continuous involvement with the GSA Hydrogeology Division as the motivator for ever greater involvement in and service to the society over the years.
I look forward to watching Vicki McConnell, our new Executive Director; take GSA to an even higher level of service to our members and profession. In my new role as President of the GSA Foundation, I have the new challenge of raising money instead of spending it. It is a new and exciting way to continue my serve to the Geological Society of America. Thank you for this honor.