As climate change storms to the forefront of
public consciousness, the American Iron and Steel Institute
(AISI) has tapped a Washington insider and former Bush
Administration executive to lead the steel association through
a time of change.
They chose Thomas J. Gibson, a man with a
passion for manufacturing who intentionally took a career path
toward the steel sector. "I admire AISI's work in the steel
industry," he said. "AISI tells a remarkable story."
"No one has spent as much time on climate
change as Tom. He brings years of experience in this realm to
the steel sector," said Jack N. Gerard, president and chief
executive officer of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a
Washington-based trade association where Gibson was senior vice
president of advocacy. "Tom understands the issues here in
Washington," he added. "He knows what he is talking about,
which is the key to be successful in D.C."
"Our industry faces many important
environmental and technical challenges, and he has the
credentials and experience to help us meet them," said John P.
Surma, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Steel
Corp., Pittsburgh, and a member of AISI's board of directors.
"I look forward to working with him to keep steel the material
Gibson takes the reins at AISI on Sept. 1.
His salary remains undisclosed. The man he succeeds, president
and chief executive officer Andrew G. Sharkey III, earned
$786,696 in 2006, according to the National Journal
magazine (AMM, May 2).
The first thing Gibson will do as head of
AISI is pack his bags and depart Washington. He plans to visit
AISI members across the country, get a feel for how the steel
industry operates and its key business priorities, then put
that knowledge to work when he returns to Washington.
"The steel industry is a smaller universe
than it used to be," Gibson said. "Still, I am thrilled to be
here. I have a lot of respect for the steel industry."
Gibson has earned the respect of colleagues
in Washington as he carved out his career niche by working well
with both Democrats and Republicans and establishing a strong
track record on Capitol Hill by achieving legislative
objectives with various associations.
During his tenure at ACC, Gibson led the
chemical industry's global, federal and state advocacy efforts,
while with the Portland Cement Association he was involved with
industry efforts on climate change and advocated for the cement
industry's inclusion in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean
Development and Climate.
Gibson, who received a bachelor's degree in
naval architecture from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1979, a
master's in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island
in 1989 and graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center
in 1994, also served as chief of staff for the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), acting as its day-to-day
manager to EPA administrators Christine Todd Whitman and
Michael O. Leavitt. Earlier, after serving in the U.S. Navy,
Gibson was an engineer and program manager with Raytheon Co.
before joining Don Clay & Associates, an environmental
policy firm in Washington.
"Tom has had a very successful career with
associations in Washington, and his experience with the EPA is
invaluable," said Keith E. Busse, AISI chairman and chairman
and chief executive officer of Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne,
Ind. "I believe Tom is ready. He is up for the challenge."
Busse added that Gibson's extensive contacts
on Capitol Hill will help him tackle the challenges and changes
that will be taking place in Washington in the coming
The AISI cast a wide net in searching for
potential candidates earlier this year (AMM, April
11). Ward J. "Tim" Timken Jr., chairman of Timken Co., Canton,
Ohio, was asked by Sharkey to head up the search committee, and
looked at a number of candidates from a broad cross-section of
industries outside the steel industry-from government and
lobbyists to executives in the business sector.
Timken said that Gibson rose to the top of
all the candidates. "From a policy point of view, his
background is suited to the challenges that face the steel
industry," he said. "Tom's expertise on climate change will be
"Tom is a strong leader, and a good
communicator," Daniel R. DiMicco, chairman, president and chief
executive officer of Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C., said. "He
does have big shoes to fill, as Sharkey will be missed."
Sharkey has left his mark on the steel
industry, Timken said, but now it's time for the next executive
to take on the challenges that lie ahead. "Tom's career
prepared him to become an executive. Now it's time for Tom to
take AISI to the next level," Timken said.
"In the past, the AISI CEOs had direct
connections to the steel industry," David Phelps, president of
the American Institute for International Steel, Washington,
said. "This appointment is a departure from the norm. I'm
hoping that Gibson will focus on environmental issues, and that
the AISI will change its posture on the International Trade
Commission and the Department of Commerce."