“You never fail to surprise yourself with the broadness and reach of IEEE.”
-Dr. Nim Cheung, IEEE Foundation Director
As we enter the season of gratitude, we are pleased to introduce our Directors-at-Large who began their term in January 2022. Already making an impact, they share their insight, sentiments and professional leadership to advance the mission of IEEE and the IEEE Foundation.
As Foundation leaders, it is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to oversee the management and direction of the Foundation – and connect 250+ IEEE member-led initiatives with financing, expertise and philanthropic guidance. The Foundation Board plays a unique and important role within the IEEE community by leveraging philanthropic giving to drive innovation, workforce development, social development and global problem solving.
Dr. Nim Cheung is Chairman and CEO of AIphotonics Limited, a technology company he founded at the Hong Kong Science Park specializing in 3D photography, LIDAR and artificial intelligence. He is also the Director of several listed and start-up companies in Hong Kong and has recently completed a six-year term as CEO of Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI).
Cheung received his B.Sc. degree from the University of Hong Kong and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He has held different research and management positions at Bell Labs and Bellcore after graduation. He was a pioneer in high-speed optical communications, having established three world-class research programs in ultra-high speed, coherent and subcarrier multiplexed communications in Bellcore. Cheung was consulting professor at Stanford University and is an honorary professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a Fellow of IEEE and Telcordia Technologies and has received numerous awards and honors.
When asked if he would recommend that others become involved with the IEEE Foundation, Cheung replied, “Absolutely. It provides another perspective on what IEEE is about. Even though IEEE and the IEEE Foundation are affiliated, they’re two separate organizations. Their focus is slightly different. Through philanthropy, we (the Foundation) provide support and services throughout the world.”
From his personal experience, he added, “At BellLabs, everyone was an IEEE member and published papers. Through the conferences, we met the titans. The movers and the shakers of the world.”
Christopher Geiger is the Vice President of Internal Audit and Enterprise Risk for Lockheed Martin. In this role, he leads internal audit operations for a Fortune 100 aerospace & defense company with a presence in more than 50 countries. He has been with Lockheed Martin for 20 years and was most recently the Director of Enterprise Risk and Sustainability, where he led related program strategy, implementation and stakeholder engagement. Geiger is also on the Board of Directors of Midflorida Credit Union, a US$6B assets full-service financial institution.
Geiger is a licensed Professional Engineering (PE) in Florida and Texas, UK Chartered Engineer (CEng), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and a Board Leadership Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors. In addition, he is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a senior member of IEEE and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He received a master’s in business administration and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and chemistry from the University of Florida.
In his many different leadership roles, Geiger has always believed it is important to give back, and that engineers and technologists are well-positioned to do so. “Engineers and technologists have insight into both the how and why of the way the modern world works,” he explained. “This understanding is largely wasted if it’s to merely satisfy curiosity – we must put that perspective in service to a sustainable future. Philanthropy can be an important part of exercising that responsibility.”
From October 2018 to January 2020, Howard Michel was the Chief Executive Officer at ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio. Previously, he was founding Chief Technology Officer at UBTECH Education and Senior Vice President of UBTECH Robotics, a privately-held US $10 billion Shenzhen, China, AI and robotics company. He currently serves as Senior Advisor for UBTECH Robotics.
Michel is a part-time lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth teaching the capstone senior design for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Formerly, he was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Prior to that, Michel was a U.S. Air Force officer, having served as a pilot, satellite launch director, engineer, and engineering manager, including a tour in the People’s Republic of China, where he served as a senior U.S. Government technical representative enforcing technology-transfer control plans and procedures during two satellite launch operations.
Michel was the 2015 IEEE President, 2011-2012 IEEE Vice-President for Member and Geographic Activities, 2008-2009 Region 1 (north-east US) Director and Chair of the IEEE Public Visibility Committee for 2009-2010.
On his robust involvement with IEEE and joining the IEEE Foundation Board of Directors, Michel shared a personal philosophy we believe will resonate with our IEEE and philanthropic communities, “Do what matters to you, and you’ll have a rewarding life.” Adding, “leadership is not about giving orders. It’s about getting people to follow your vision.”
Mary Ellen Martin Zellerbach is Managing Director of Martin Investment Management, LLC; a majority women-owned SEC registered investment adviser. The firm manages quality, mid to large market capitalization stocks in concentrated portfolios and offers five “Best Ideas” strategies in developed markets: U.S., non-U.S., global, global Eco-Investing (free of extractive and fossil fuel industries and focused on positive environmental stewardship), and Martin Women’s Advantage (global equities with a commendable representation of women in leadership positions down to the business unit level). The Martin Women’s Advantage strategy is dedicated to the Great Aunt of Zellerbach, Mary E. Hogan, who “became one of the nation’s shrewdest business women” according to her 1944 obituary, and her two Managing Director partners.
With Mary E. Hogan as her role model, Zellerbach began her career at Wells Fargo Investment Advisors as part of the pioneering index fund team. Previously Zellerbach received an A.B. in Economics from Wellesley College and her MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. In 2015 Zellerbach completed an 11-year term, including Chair, as a member of the IEEE Investment Committee and is a member of IEEE.
Of her many passions, Zellerbach has found several Foundation-funded programs that fit her interests. “Preserving the history of the accomplishments and contributions of men and women is incredibly important,” she explained. “If you don’t understand the history, you don’t understand where you’re going.” As a member of IEEE Women in Engineering, Zellerbach emphasizes the importance of role models, either past or present, which ties into the history of IEEE.
With 250+funds and the far-reaching impact of IEEE, it is not uncommon for stakeholders and supporters to consistently find new and surprising details about the Foundation. Echoing the earlier observation from Cheung, Zellerbach agrees on the breadth and impact of IEEE, adding, “The biggest surprise in joining the Foundation Board was the incredible quality and enthusiasm behind the Foundation – including the dedicated work of Karen Galuchie (IEEE Foundation’s Executive Director) and her team. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see the strong foundation supporting the Foundation.”
Each of the IEEE Foundation Directors have made significant contributions in their professional fields – and we are thankful to have them as Foundation leaders and supporters. As the new year approaches – our 50th year in operation – we look forward to seeing them help craft the future of the Foundation and translate the values of our members and donors into social impact. Together, we deliver opportunity, innovation and impact, and advance the IEEE mission throughout the world.
To learn more about the IEEE Foundation’s Board of Directors, visit our Board of Directors page. To stay up to date on Foundation milestones, initiatives, and to help welcome our new 2023 Board of Directors, we invite you to follow us on LinkedIn. To learn more about the innovative programming that the IEEE Foundation supports, we invite you to visit our website.