Nina Irene McClelland, the longtime former chairman and CEO of Ann Arbor-based NSF International, died Aug. 16 2020 just five days shy of her 91st birthday.
The Ohio native spent her career working for cleaner drinking water around the world.
McClelland, named among the most influential women in 1997 by Crain's Detroit Business, she was drawn to science early in life. At the age of just 7 years old, she could be found sitting in her Aunt Fern's calculus class at the University of Toledo.
After earning a B.S. in chemistry/biology from the University of Toledo, she planned to transfer to the Purdue University for medical school but took a job in Toledo, instead, to help her newly widowed grandmother. Through a job in a local laboratory, she got hooked on chemistry. Her role as a graduate student was part of the effort to change the chemical structure of surfacants in household detergents to make them more biodegradable.
McClelland went on to earn an M.S. in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Toledo, a master of public health, environmental health and Ph.D. in environmental chemistry from the University of Michigan.
Her career at NSF, a global nonprofit that helps develop standards for food and water safety and test against them, spanned 27 years, 15 of them as chairman and CEO.
She became chairwoman emeritus at NSF in 1995 and served as a consultant to the United Nations as a water expert. She was a member of the board of American National Standards Institute and called upon as a water expert on two U.S. Department of Commerce trade missions to Russia.
McClelland also served on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Drinking Water Advisory Council for three terms and as chairwoman of the board of directors at the American Chemical Society.
During her career, McClelland was a principal and consultant with the International Clean Water Program, a humanitarian program dedicated to providing health care, safe drinking water, good education, disease control and other essential needs to developing countries.
She also served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Water Treatment Chemicals and addressed the United Nations on the issue of clean drinking water. Her leadership as chairman of the board at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor was recognized last fall by naming their board room the Nina I. McClelland, Ph.D. Board Room.