Under the leadership of Mary Fleming as Executive Director, SEG grew and expanded its international presence in an unprecedented way. While it was Mary’s job to oversee SEG’s business office with its myriad responsibilities, she has always gone beyond these duties and put SEG’s success first and foremost, which always required long hours and sometimes personal sacrifice. Under her tenure, SEG grew as never before, expanding the international base and increasing student involvement. The SEG Foundation has excelled during this time, due in no small measure to her devotion and passion to make SEG the best. Mary has overseen all aspects of the operation and forward movement of SEG since 2002, a period with almost 100% growth in membership while changing from being 62% U.S.-based to 63% international, a doubling of revenue, and an increase in staff from 48 to 80 in Tulsa plus a small office in Beijing, China.
Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership 2010
Contributed by Ken Larner
Often unrecognized by most members of a professional society is the critical importance of the Executive Director to its functioning, growth, and success. Members are aware of the importance of the leadership provided by the SEG Executive Committee and Council, and, yes, they know of the existence of the staff, whose purpose is to support activities and policies instituted by the Executive Committee. Effective implementation of the decisions of the Executive Committee, conduct of ongoing business, delivery of services to the membership, and interaction with other professional societies depends to a remarkably large extent on the quality of leadership provided by the Executive Director, and, for the past eight years, SEG has been blessed with the energy, creativity, and leadership that Mary Fleming provided.
Throughout, Mary has been a creative source of ideas for innovative programs and approaches to implementing them. From where does an individual derive those talents? Well, yes, from Little Rock, Arkansas, Mary's hometown; this speaks to place, but less to the person. Her professional background and accomplishments cover a range of experience and expertise that relates to and seemingly appears unrelated to preparation for her role as SEG’s chief staff officer. Mary seemed headed toward a career in secondary-school mathematics, but she sailed beyond that in obtaining a master’s in public health (epidemiology) and then Ph.D. in biostatistics, both at the University of Oklahoma. Superbly prepared for any number of career directions, she excelled at a variety of them prior to joining SEG. A partial list includes:
- 1) Research Associate and then Coordinator of Data Management at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
- 2) Director and Adjunct Professor at the University of Oklahoma Geological Information Systems.
- 3) Coordinator of Secondary Education for New Covenant Academy, in Lexington, Kentucky.
- 4) Eleven years in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University, five as Chair, where she is Professor Emeritus.
In 1998 Mary made a fully logical shift in career direction to become Director of Programs for the American Statistical Association. This shift brought her background and mental preparation—one might say, the stars—significantly into alignment for her to become SEG Executive Director and to fill the position with distinction, accomplishing more in leadership of the SEG’s staff and business office than had been previously imagined or achieved.
She has even sought the best decisions on matters both small and momentous, and in discussions with volunteer leaders, and she has consistently adhered to the maxim “you pay me for my opinions.” Mary is especially proud of the profound change in the relationship she has effected between the Society and its Foundation. Seeing the potential of the Foundation to become an engine of the Society’s global growth, she worked tirelessly with the Board to elevate collaboration with SEG, to professionalize policies and procedures, and to launch a major gifts campaign to strengthen the global geophysical community and SEG.
Fund-raiser, negotiator, overseer of Society and Foundation legal obligations, initiator of planning and logistics for the new SEG office in Beijing, developer of new SEG subsidiaries, the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM) and SEG Global Inc, overseer of organizational and staffing changes as Society membership doubled, builder of a talented and focused business office, key SEG contact with the executive leadership of international and national oil companies, geophysical service companies, and other industry organizations: SEG would not enjoy its significance and value to both the applied geophysical community worldwide and related professional societies without the energetic creativity that Mary brought as Executive Director. Through awarding Life Membership, the Society expresses thanks to Mary Fleming for her eight years of creative and enthusiastic dedication, leadership, and action, the sum of which has ensured SEG’s success well into the future.