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A True Honor & Privilege

James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA, 2023-24 ASSP President and ASSP Foundation Chair
Jun 01, 2024

Jim Thornton

In my first message as ASSP President last July, I expressed my excitement about this role. I eagerly anticipated the chance to work with the Board of Directors and other leaders to improve workplace safety and health. And I wanted to ensure we continued our efforts to provide you with a professional community that shares ideas, identifies solutions and provides the support we all need to solve our daily challenges.

As my year in office now comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the many moments that shaped my journey this year. Each step has reminded me of the incredible honor and responsibility that comes with serving you and our noble profession.

One of my fondest memories is when Christine Sullivan presented me with the President’s Medallion on stage at Safety 2023 in San Antonio, TX. As I looked out at a room full of members, I felt a wave of enthusiasm as well as a weight of expectation, knowing the year ahead would be both exhilarating and humbling.

Another cherished memory was representing ASSP at the dedication of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial in New York City. The inscription “Never Forget” resonates deeply with me because it is a constant reminder of the impact we have as OSH professionals in our organizations and communities.

I also have gained so much from attending regional operating committee meetings, chapter gatherings and other local events. Interacting with so many members, sharing success stories and learning from your experiences has been truly rewarding. It has reminded me how much I have enjoyed working alongside fellow professionals to keep people safe throughout my career. Making these personal connections and continuing my learning at our annual conferences and other educational events have also enriched my career.

It is easy to get so caught up in day-to-day activities that we forget to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments. First, I want to thank you for entrusting me with this role. I have strived to serve you and our profession with the dedication and integrity you deserve. None of this would have been possible without your unwavering support.

I am also incredibly grateful for our terrific Board of Directors for their collective work to guide the Society through our new strategic plan, modeling our CLEAR values and making decisions, some of which required us to take a “shoot the alligators closest to the boat” mindset so that we can secure our Society’s long-term success.

Finally, none of this would have been possible without our exceptional ASSP staff. They are true professionals and play a vital role in what we achieve.

As I reflect on my career in OSH, I feel a profound sense of accomplishment. From tackling challenges in the field early in my career to the privilege of leading this organization, it has been a journey filled with purpose. It has been rewarding to see firsthand how our work prevents injuries and illnesses and saves lives. The camaraderie within this profession, from sharing best practices to celebrating successes, continues to fuel my passion for safety.

It has been a true honor and privilege to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. The greatest reward is knowing that our collective efforts are sending more workers home safely each day. As I pass the torch, I urge each of you to “never forget” the importance of our work and the lives it impacts. Together, we will continue to make a difference and advance our great profession.


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