July / August 2017

Great Lakes Chapter Brings Training & Information to Midwest

Mike McGrath

The Great Lakes region in the American Midwest is home to several pharmaceutical hubs, giving ISPE’s Great Lakes Chapter a deep potential membership pool. And this vast territory also presents the Chapter’s greatest opportunity: to engage more than 800 members scattered across the six states surrounding Lake Erie and Lake Michigan—Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Founded in 1994, the Great Lakes Chapter’s membership is spread out across several cities, with pockets in Detroit and Kalamazoo (Michigan), Indianapolis (Indiana), Chicago (Illinois), and Lexington (Kentucky), plus a few smaller enclaves in southern Indiana and Wisconsin.

ISPE members often view social networking as an important aspect of membership., and Great Lakes Chapter President Deborah Geyman, Quality Principal Auditor for Zimmer Biomet, emphasizes its importance while acknowledging that it is a challenge for the Chapter. “With our geography, it is perhaps more problematic from the social standpoint than it is for other Chapters or Affiliates,” says Geyman, who took over as President earlier this year. “For many members, driving four hours from Indianapolis to Chicago for cocktails after work is hard to justify. The bottom line is we need to have enough people within an area to pull off social events.”

The same holds true when it comes to meetings for the Chapter’s Board. “I have one [member] in Southern Indiana, another in the upper north side of Chicago, one on the far east side down in Indiana, and one in Cleveland,” she explains. “So, all of my officers are at least two hours apart from each other.” To compensate, many meetings take place via Skype.

A Tough Economy

A trend that both Geyman and former President Joe Robinson, Midwest Regional Manager for Commissioning Agents, say has affected membership is tighter corporate budgets for association memberships and travel. “Things have changed over the last couple of years,” says Robinson. “When I started with ISPE, everybody had money to go to everything; there wasn’t a problem. But now the larger companies have been tightening the reins on the money being spent for things like this.”

And while membership levels have remained somewhat steady over the last few years, the Chapter has been recovering from the impact of a few poorly attended events. Robinson describes one in the Kalamazoo area in 2013 when all arrangements had been made, but few attendees had confirmed one day prior to the event. “So we had to change our plans and it ended up costing the Chapter thousands of dollars because of all the guaranteed money for the venue. Since then, we have been really gun-shy.”

As Robinson explains, he felt it was necessary to act to preserve the Chapter’s strained finances. “I ratcheted down on the spending so we didn’t run out of money,” he says. “Then we renegotiated contracts for insurance and other things to get spending to a manageable rate.”

Quick facts

  • Founded: 1994
  • Region: Great Lakes, US
  • Membership: 800+


  • President
    • Deborah Geyman, Zimmer Biomet
  • Vice President
    • David McAlonan, AbbVie
  • Secretary
    • Cindy Bambini, CRB
  • Treasurer
    • Timothy Fry, the jdi group, Inc.
  • Past President
    • Joe Robinson, Commissioning Agents
  • Directors
    • Felicia Ford-Rice, PAREXEL Consulting
    • Robert Lennon, Dakswan Automation Systems, Inc.
    • Aaron Mertens, STERIS Life Sciences
  • Membership
    • Michael Carey, Gerflor USA

2017 Event

Geyman, however, remains optimistic that the Chapter has brighter days ahead. Some of that comes from her firm belief in ISPE. “Nobody can compare to ISPE for technical expertise, the availability of guidance documents, and community of practice tools,” she says. “They always reach out to members and stay contemporary on expectations, reporting on various processes in the pharmaceutical industry from critical utilities to computer validation systems and process validation. ISPE has been the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry for many years.

“People like the strong technical information that ISPE provides,” she continues. “We are looking at how we can improve engagement by bringing training and valuable information through the region in a cost-effective manner. We’re quite excited about working with ISPE to bring the GAMP® Forum to our members.”

Both Geyman and Robinson see the June 15 forum, held at the Lilly Manufacturing Quality Center in Indianapolis, in concert with the 2017 Indianapolis training event from June 12–14, as a potential springboard for renewed member engagement. A three-day training course introduces participants to regulatory requirements for computerized systems in the pharmaceutical industry and explores tried, tested, and internationally recognized methods of meeting those requirements. The one-day GAMP Forum is devoted to the newest concepts in data integrity. It will include discussions on trends as well as breakout sessions on establishing programs, conducting audits, and addressing data integrity challenges in key business areas. The forum will wrap up with a panel discussion with experts from the industry and the Global GAMP Data Integrity Special Interest Group.

“I think that this event has the potential to be the spark that has been needed for a while to get things kick-started,” says Robinson.