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September 1997

Meet the new VPs: Jack Fellows and Katy Schmoll


In the August issue of Staff Notes Monthly, we reported on the retirement of Bill Rawson, UCAR vice president for finance and administration. This month we introduce you to Bill's successor, Katy Schmoll, and to Jack Fellows, the new UCAR vice president for corporate affairs and director of the UCAR Office of Programs. (Harriet Barker, the former VP for corporate affairs, remains a UCAR vice president at large.)

"A less frenzied atmosphere"

Like so many before her, Katy Schmoll finds herself attracted to Boulder by the magnetism of our natural setting. Katy recalls a moment earlier this year as she walked through the Denver International Airport parking lot on her way back to Washington, D.C., following her UCAR job interview: "It was one of those beautiful, clear mornings, and there were those mountains. It just struck me dumb."

Katy Schmoll

This is Katy's first time living in the West. A native Hoosier who graduated from Indiana University, she spent 17 years in NASA administration before taking on fiscal management of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1993. As the EPA's comptroller, Katy was in charge of a $6.8 billion dollar budget (FY 1997), a budget far larger than UCAR's. However, "the issues and the problems you face with a budget don't change much depending on the number of zeros," she says. Also, she adds, "one thing I'm looking forward to in the VP position is that I'll be dealing with a lot of things other than budgets."

In her first contacts with UCAR, NCAR, and UOP, Katy says she's come to appreciate the institution's "commitment and involvement" in atmospheric research--"commitment to good science and commitment to the environment," which she also valued at NASA and the EPA. "I've always felt it would be hard for me to work in private industry."

Katy is inclined toward innovation in her approach to budget management. At the EPA, she acted as "midwife" in establishing the Working Capital Fund, a tool for keeping track of small-scale items that add up to large-scale costs. "In the past, things like postage and computer services had been centrally funded. Given that, nobody paid a lot of attention [to those expenses] because they weren't footing the bill." Once the fund was in place, users paid directly for the services, which tended to spur efficiency. "We starting seeing people thinking twice about running out a report, thinking about what they really need." For instance, a charge for electronic mailboxes resulted in a weeding of many unused mailboxes, including some maintained for people who had died or left the agency long before.

Thus far, Katy is more than satisfied with her new life. "I'm very impressed with the caliber of people here, including those who'll be reporting to me." And in Boulder, she adds, "there's such an easy atmosphere and such a friendly attitude. It's a less frenzied atmosphere than what I'm used to."

"I'm excited to be here"

When he had to leave his six-year-old in tears as he departed Washington, D.C., last month, Jack Fellows wasn't so sure about moving to Boulder. Jack's wife and three of his children (the fourth is in college) will be arriving in October. They're one of the two main reasons Jack took the position as UCAR vice president: "I thought that Boulder presented a better opportunity [than D.C.] to spend more time with my family." The other reason, says Jack, is UCAR itself: "It's a quality organization."

Like Katy, Jack climbed the Washington career ladder quickly. He spent 13 years in the White House's Office of Management and Budget, the last five of those as branch chief of the Science and Space Program Branch of OMB. In that role, he oversaw the fiscal management of NASA, NSF, and the Smithsonian Institution, comprising $18 billion and 25,000 employees. He also served as OMB coordinator for all federal R&D programs (roughly $75 billion).

Jack Fellows

Jack echoes Katy's feelings about downshifting to the comparatively modest UCAR fiscal environment. "I don't see much difference in the actual day-to-day actions. You're still dealing with people, no matter how many zeros are behind the numbers."

After a childhood in Bloomington, Indiana, and the D.C. area, Jack attended the University of Maryland for undergraduate through doctoral programs in civil engineering. He and two brothers helped put each other through college and grad school by alternating stints at UM with operation of a commercial greenhouse. Jack embarked on a brief research career in hydrologic analysis and remote sensing before he was tapped by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to be a 1983-84 congressional science fellow, serving as a consultant to California representative George Brown.

While Jack was working with Brown, NCAR founding president Walt Roberts paid a visit to his office, having been asked by Brown to help find ways to organize climate research. "I was very struck by [Walt's] energy level, his integrity, and his vision," recalls Jack. Since then, he says, "I've had a great respect for the scientific caliber of NCAR and UCAR. I really came here because of what I felt this institution is. I want to contribute in whatever ways I can, with my background of 13 years in the White House complex and the federal research community." Jack earned the 1997 Edward A. Flinn III medal from the AGU for his work helping to organize federal research on global change.

After being immersed in the "sine-wave" culture of Washington, where political appointees come and go--"a world of tremendous chaos"--Jack is looking forward to putting down roots in Boulder and at UCAR/NCAR/UOP. "I'm excited to be here. I've received a very gracious welcome. It's made the move here without the family much easier." •BH


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu

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