The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) announced in a press statement that June Wispelwey, executive director of the Society for Biological Engineering (SBE), a technical community within AIChE, will become executive director of the parent organization. Wispelwey will replace John A. Sofranko, who is retiring in January 2009, after eight years in that position.

In making the announcement, Dale L. Keairns, AIChE’s 2008 president and an executive with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), thanked the Search Committee, chaired by Bill Byers of CH2M Hill, a past president of the organization, for “a very thorough process that spread over 16 months and received expressions of interest from almost 200 candidates.”

He added that selecting an internal candidate represented a vote of confidence not just in Wispelwey, but also in the Institute’s health and direction. Keairns commended Sofranko’s leadership in dramatically restructuring Institute operations and for “laying a solid foundation for future growth and expanded inclusiveness of membership.”

Keairns noted that Wispelwey, a chemical engineer who has overseen the successful launch and growth of SBE, will be assuming her new role as AIChE concludes its centennial celebration and begins implementing a new strategic plan designed to guide the Institute into its second century. Wispelwey expressed confidence that “AIChE’s strengths in industry and technology, along with an increased global presence and use of the web” assure that “we will succeed in our mission of advancing technology, sharing knowledge among working professionals, and educating the next generation of engineers.”

Wispelwey, who previously served as vice president of marketing services at Aventis Behring and as director of performance chemicals business development at Lyondell, has brought an entrepreneurial approach to AIChE initiatives in new technologies and energy. At SBE, she launched a successful consortium to advance genomic research on cell lines that are important to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Wispelwey explained, though, that her time at SBE, which she led for the past four years, has taught her that “the culture of a broad-based non-profit membership organization requires enrolling grassroots support and devoting even more attention to team and relationship building” than the corporate environment.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Princeton University and a master’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Wispelwey began her career at Lyondell. She also completed an executive education program at The Wharton School.