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BW chemistry grad, green clean advocate among 2020 Crain's Women of Note

Rebecca Spooner Korwin '95When Crain's Cleveland Business recognized Dr. Rebecca Spooner Korwin '95 among its 2020 Women of Note, the business weekly highlighted a Baldwin Wallace University chemistry professor's early influence on Korwin's academic and career trajectory.

Korwin is executive vice president of science and innovation at State Industrial Products in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Her job is focused on the research and development of safe and effective cleaning solutions, including hospital-grade disinfectants and chemicals for wastewater treatment.

"The primary goal for us is to keep our customers and our businesses safe and clean," Korwin told Crain's. That's a goal that has kept the company busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Catching' prof's infectious enthusiasm

But business, not chemistry, was the major Korwin intended to pursue when entering BW. That all changed when she took a chemistry class with Dr. Jim McCargar, now associate dean of BW's School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, and according to Crain's, "his enthusiasm changed her mind."

A star science student, Korwin not only decided to major in chemistry, but she also added a second degree in biology.

Dr. McCargar emphasizes that he spotted Korwin's intelligence and drive to succeed right away. "I could tell early on that she was going to be somebody to be reckoned with," he told Crain's.

While McCargar and Korwin have stayed in touch over the years, he readily acknowledges, "she doesn't need a whole lot of mentoring."

Green emphasis in standout career

Korwin's career has been marked by an active dedication to the development of environmentally friendly products within her own company and in the wider industry. She works to support the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice Program and provides board leadership for the Household and Commercial Products Association.

At home, she practices what she preaches by choosing green products, but she recognizes a larger responsibility to ensure broad product safety.

"As a consumer," she told Crain's, "you have a choice when you go into the grocery store what type of product you buy for your family to use," she said. "But when you walk into a public space, you don't have a choice. You sleep on hotel sheets and you don't have a choice what detergent they're using. You don't have a choice what types of chemicals they're using to wash your dishes in a restaurant. You don't have a choice what type of ingredients are in the fragrances that they're pumping in public spaces."

Leadership for the future

After graduating from BW, Korwin earned a master's degree and Ph.D. from Kent State. She's been in her current role at State Industrial since 2013 and said she hopes to help the company grow in the years to come.

Crain's called the 15 women it chose to honor this year an "exceptional group" that has met the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and "resulting economic turmoil" with "resilience, tenacity, compassion and grace."

"These leaders, and others like them or mentored by them or inspired by them, are who will shepherd the region to emerge from the current tumult on track toward stability and a resumption of growth, leaving no Ohioan behind."

Watch a replay of the July 22, 2020, virtual ceremony honoring the 2020 Crain's Cleveland Business Women of Note.

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