Meet Chuck Geraci, Chair of AIHA’s Content Portfolio Advisory Group
Early this summer, AIHA member Chuck Geraci started his new role as head of the AIHA Content Portfolio Advisory Group. I chatted with him about his involvement with AIHA, what CPAG is, and what he hopes to achieve during his one-year tenure.
Ina Xhani: What is the AIHA Content Portfolio Advisory Group?
Chuck Geraci: CPAG is a group of experts within AIHA who assist the Board of Directors and the association in identifying key trends around the world that are affecting worker health and safety. The goal for CPAG is to make recommendations to the Board on some of these key trends and how they relate to AIHA’s priorities. CPAG also makes recommendations to the Board on the development of content and reviews existing AIHA content to determine whether it should be updated or archived. “Content” refers to a variety of things that the association delivers to its membership, such as white papers, fact sheets, guidance documents, videos, webinars, and presentations at AIHce. This body of content makes up the association's collection of knowledge to meet AIHA’s mission, which is to deliver knowledge and skills to our practitioners to support worker health and safety.
So, it's a big job for CPAG members, and for the Board, to track everything that's going on within the association and make sure that AIHA is investing in priority areas that meet the needs of practitioners. It’s important to note that CPAG is made up of professionals who have a broad base of experience.
IX: Why and how did you get involved with CPAG?
CG: Over the last 20 years, through my work at NIOSH and different companies, I’ve been involved in what I would refer to as emerging technologies and emerging hazards in the workplace. I also was involved with what was then known as the Nanotechnology Working Group, which is now the Nano and Advanced Materials Working Group. Around 2019 was when I heard about this relatively new group called CPAG that was also trying to identify priorities and challenges that were facing the industrial hygiene profession and the association. And about a year later there was a call for membership, so I submitted my application. I applied because I wanted to offer insight on emerging technologies and challenges within the workplace, but I also felt it was a good opportunity to give back to the profession and to interact with subject matter experts across the entire association. Now, as the new CPAG chair, I can really see the difficulty of meeting some of those challenges and how important it is for IH and OEHS practitioners to be out in front of them.
IX: How has your involvement with CPAG affected your professional development?
CG: Well, after 47 years in the profession, it's interesting for me to say that I'm still developing, and I'm still evolving and still learning. And I think CPAG gave me a unique opportunity to interact with subject matter experts who I didn't know well, and getting their perspective on some of these new challenges facing our profession has been exciting and educational for me. Even at this stage in my career, I can learn a lot more to get other perspectives and make a contribution in an area that I think is very important.
IX: What are some of the goals you hope to achieve during your term as chair of CPAG?
CG: One of my goals is to continue to help AIHA develop new knowledge and tools so that our members can have the skills and expertise needed to meet the challenges of the ever-changing workplace. Another goal is to continue to help our profession be recognized as a key contributor to overall occupational health and public health in general. We saw during the COVID-19 pandemic that industrial hygienists and OEHS practitioners were called upon to help workers, employers, and the public at large because of our broad base of scientific experience.
A third goal is to help industrial hygienists and OEHS practitioners develop better communication skills so we can communicate more effectively about the work we do and the precautionary principles that we all stand by. And another goal is to maintain CPAG’s priorities and keep them up to date. We recently made a pivot with one of our priorities, “serving the changing workforce,” which now includes supporting the changing workplace in recognition of new technologies, new materials, new ways of doing business, and the dramatic changes that are happening in worker and workforce demographics and worker-employer relationships.
IX: What impact do you hope to make on OEHS professionals through your work with CPAG?
CG: Something I've always wanted to do is work for the recognition of IH and OEHS practitioners as valuable contributors to the overall health of our workers, to public health, and even to consumer health because of our association with product stewardship. I'd like to attract a much broader pool of talent into the profession. I think OEHS is a very exciting profession to be in. You have to be very diverse in your skills. You might be an expert in one area, but you need to be versed in a lot of technical skills and interpersonal communication skills to be successful. Through CPAG, AIHA can identify priority areas that are exciting to students or to young professionals and attract them into the profession.
I'd also like AIHA to be recognized as a responsive organization. I think we saw that with COVID. We didn't have many people three years ago who were versed in infection control and ultrafine particulate control, but AIHA responded quickly to extend our capability by partnering with other professional groups to develop effective strategies. And I think that was one example of how AIHA is a responsive, professional organization that supports its membership in meeting these challenges.