March 2000


Genung: In a word, leadership

Richard Genung is a quiet sort of individual who slips in and out of rooms without a lot of bustle or fanfare. But ORNL’s deputy director has made an impact on the Laboratory. He became deputy director more than three years ago in the midst of one of the Lab’s most tumultuous periods of change, and in the ensuing time many things at the Lab are being done differently

One of his most noteworthy ideas was Leadership ORNL. Al Trivelpiece credits Genung with promoting a leadership course, similar to civic leadership programs, for ORNL research and support staff members who will likely steer the Lab through the coming years.

The LORNL program includes a series of seminars that envelop all aspects of the Lab, from support functions such as business operations and legal counsel to its widely varied areas of research. Staff members who haven’t been exposed to the workings and challenges of other organizations and scientific disciplines come away from the program with a broader view of the Lab.
Richard Genung
The course also includes a weeklong off-site meeting that explores how members of institutions as complex as ORNL can affect change within the organization.

Finally, each leadership class, with Genung’s encouragement, chooses a need or issue as a project. Subjects tackled so far by alumni, who belong to the ORNL Leadership Action Consortium, or ORLAC, have included program management, ES&H issues and communications.

Dan Ingersoll and Kathy Yuracko have been two active LORNL graduates.

“The greatest thing LORNL offers is a network of people throughout the Laboratory who help each other achieve their goals,” says Yuracko, of the Life Sciences Division. “I have drawn upon this network for help in making contacts with new sponsors; to identify research collaborators; and for advice on administrative, financial and contractual issues.

“Equally important, the network of LORNL graduates has been a source of rejuvenation for me, because it brings together wonderful people who are committed to leadership and who want to work together to improve the Laboratory.”

Ingersoll, of the Computational Physics and Engineering Division, says the program Genung fostered has provided him with both inspiration and, through ORLAC, the means to effect change.

“Besides providing volumes of useful information about activities throughout the Lab, the LORNL course gave me the best opportunity I’ve had in my 22 years at ORNL to interact with other peers and with senior management.

“With senior management’s support, and especially with the personal commitment of Richard Genung, ORLAC gives us middle-management folks a chance to tackle real and current issues around the Lab in nontraditional ways. The ORLAC environment encourages us to think out-of-the-box and experiment with leadership solutions, something that I find especially fun.”

Ingersoll and Yuracko are two of the 234 Lab staff members who have enrolled in Leadership ORNL. (Of those, 80 have completed all of the Lab sessions and the offsite). Many, like Ingersoll and Yuracko, are staying involved through ORLAC.

It is that class of potential leaders, armed with a broader vision of the Laboratory and a belief in its future

It is that class of potential leaders, armed with a broader vision of the Laboratory and a belief in its future that is based on experience and knowledge, that could very well be Richard Genung’s most lasting legacy as ORNL’s deputy director.—B.C.