Beth Collins Earnst (93C)
Award: 2013 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Achievements: The career of Beth C. Earnst (93C), the 2013 winner of the Outstanding Young Alumni award, demonstrates the success that perseverance and a strong work ethic can bring.
Now communications manager for one of the largest divisions of a leading global chemical company, Beth earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in chemistry and education from Berry. While in graduate school at Clemson University, she was offered an internship with chemical industry giant Ciba-Geigy.
The one-year internship turned into a full-time career with the company and she was placed in Cibas’ management development pool to ensure access to mentors and leadership training. In 2003, she was recruited by the Vice-President of Corporate Communications to take an 18-month assignment in communications supporting Ciba sites in North Carolina with public relations and state government relations efforts.
Beth has worked 15 years with Ciba (now BASF), on projects in environmental health, toxicology, product safety and in-site environmental roles. Her focus has been on customer use of the company’s products, and, as an environmental scientist, understanding the full life cycle of chemicals to ensure the company provides the best possible stewardship.
“She has distinguished herself as a leading environmental scientist and communicator and she often attributes her love of science and knowledge-building to her foundational experiences while at Berry,” said Scott Tew, Executive Director, Center for Energy, Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand and one of Beth’s previous supervisor’s at Ciba.
Beth earned even greater responsibilities after joining the company’s communications team. In 2006, she was named Ciba’s North American regional director for public relations and site communication. At age 35, she was the youngest director in the company and one of relatively few women in a highly visible leadership role at the company.
Work supporting communications projects for the company’s dispersions and pigments business in North America followed. In 2009, Ciba was acquired by BASF SE and Beth took on a special project role supporting internal communication efforts for the Dispersions & Pigments division. In 2011, she was promoted to her current role as manager of marketing and employee communications for that division, where she is responsible for advertising, printed materials, tradeshows, media relations, electronic communications and employee communications for 1300 employees working at 15 sites.
Beth also began organizing the company’s United Way campaigns, adopting families during the holidays and supporting science education projects led by the company’s charitable arm, the Ciba Foundation, including programs with the High School Chemistry Institute and High School Science Awards.
Beth has also been heavily involved in developing the company’s connection with Habitat for Humanity, the Charlotte Mecklenberg “Tools for School” drive and National Chemistry week activities that support education awareness in chemistry and engineering careers.
She is very active with the Junior League of High Point. She serves as president of the group after working her way up from positions with fundraising as assistant treasurer, treasurer and communications vice-president.
Her main focus during her presidency has been partnerships with Communities in Schools of the Triad, N.C. region. Under her leadership, the group has adopted the second grade classes at a local elementary school, focusing on literacy and improving success in the classroom.
Other League programs that Beth supports include the Children’s Learning Center, which prepares pre-school aged children for entry into kindergarten, and Kid’s in the Kitchen, a hands-on program designed to help teach kids about healthy eating habits.
Beth also serves on the Board of Directors for NC Beautiful, a non-profit focused on promoting natural beauty of North Carolina and educating students about the importance of environmental science in the classroom. She was named among “40 Leaders Under Forty” by The Business Journal for the Piedmont Triad area in 2011.