The late John W. Meredith, longtime IEEE volunteer, leader and 2007 IEEE-USA President, was well known and respected for his kindness, sincerity and unending dedication to others.
Those same characteristics are well embodied in Christopher Sanderson, the 2020 recipient of the IEEE-USA Professional Service Award bearing Meredith’s name.
“When I think of a volunteer in the mold of John Meredith, Christopher Sanderson immediately comes to mind,” said Matt Francis, IEEE Region 5 East Area Chair, and Christopher’s nominator. “I continue to be impressed with his innovation, such as developing countless talks for his section, facilitating networking among his professional members, and especially one-on-one mentoring of students, growing our next generation of engineers and volunteers.”
Christopher’s innovation can also be seen in the number of hats he wears for the Houston Section. He serves as chair, but has also been the webmaster, and unofficial online marketing guru. He is part of the Continuing Education on Demand program committee that helps supplement the application training of practicing electrical engineers. And he didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic slow his work down — in fact, he expanded it, organizing even more professional development talks, and offering them to everyone nationwide.
“Christopher’s accomplishments in professional development for IEEE, the Region and his Section were notable before COVID-19,” said Matt. “But what he has done in the face of this unprecedented time is incredible. I’ve met few people who live and breathe the spirit of IEEE as much as he does.”
The passion and care that Sanderson brings is clear and immediate to all who know him. Joe Redfield, IEEE Senior Member, stated, “Christopher has always been there to listen and support me in any of my IEEE roles and activities. He is a vibrant, energetic and committed IEEE member who cares about the well-being of others and works to achieve the goals of the group. He truly represents the spirit of John Meredith.”
T. Scott Atkinson, chair of the IEEE Life Members Committee, also raves about Sanderson’s can-do attitude and enduring selflessness: “When I requested his support to assist me in organizing several meetings, he offered his help without hesitation, and was an integral part of the success of my events.”
“Who do I know that would be more deserving of this award?” continued Scott. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving than Christopher. I personally knew John Meredith, having served alongside him for over 10 years. He and I had many discussions about Christopher’s future, and I have every reason to believe that John would be happy to see Christopher recognized.”
I first met Christopher Sanderson two years ago, at IEEE-USA’s EVO19 Conference in Pittsburgh. After the first day’s keynotes and sessions wrapped up, IEEE-USA staff hosted a mixer with music, trivia and other activities. The moment that you walked into the room, you could feel Sanderson’s energy, enthusiasm and charisma. He had a large group of people hanging on his every word, yet it was clear that he was just as good a listener as a speaker. He made a point of talking with everyone in the room, and he and I had an engaging conversation about leadership, service and ideas he had for even more activities to benefit IEEE members. Sanderson always seems to be looking for ways to help others.
Indeed, Sanderson is no stranger to giving his time to benefit others, including service in the military. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology, and an Officer’s Commission in the United States Army Air Defense Artillery Core, in 1995. His distinguished military career included two Honorable Tours of Duty, and numerous medals and citations.
Why is Sanderson so passionate about service?
“Family, community, business, and country service is the soul of who I am,” Sanderson said. “It is something I learned from an early age, growing up as a military brat, and in my own time in the Army. These traditions have served me well throughout my life.”
After his time in the military, Sanderson moved into the business world, with key leadership roles over the years at Schneider Electric, General Electric, Siemens Energy & Automation, Asea Brown Boveri, and Atlas Copco. He is currently a Lead Service Sales Engineer at EATON in the Houston area.
Sanderson also holds several positions within IEEE, including Houston Section chair, Region 5 South Area chair, IEEE-USA Career & Development Committee chair, IEEE Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Region 5 & 6 Governor, IEEE EAB TryEngineering Committee, and a past IEEE Admission and Advancement Committee member. He is also active in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
After receiving word that he was receiving the 2020 John Meredith Professional Service Award, Sanderson had the opportunity to speak with John’s widow, Lorraine Meredith. She spoke of how delighted she was to hear that he knew John, her husband of nearly 50 years.
In response, Sanderson said: “Mrs. Meredith, thank you very much for sharing John with IEEE. I am grateful to have known him and the words of wisdom he shared with me and my family each time we met. John planted a seed in me, and I hope to make you both proud living up to IEEE’s motto of Advancing Technology for Humanity.”
Sanderson credits his success to the encouragement of colleagues like John Meredith, and the support of his family — especially his wife of more than 25 years, Angela.
“Angela enjoys traveling with me to some of my IEEE meetings,” he said. “In part, I think she wants to better understand how someone can be so involved in an organization like IEEE, and not get paid for it. The other is visiting new places and meeting people like John Meredith.”
And what are his goals for the future?
“Out of all the achievements and recognition I have received, I am most proud of my IEEE STEM mentoring efforts,” Sanderson said. “I want to continue to mentor and inspire the next generation of young professionals, who will have their own impact on family, community and technology.”
Nominations for the 2021 IEEE-USA Awards are open now, and will be accepted through 15 September, 2021. Nominate someone today!
Corey Ruth is IEEE-USA’s media relations associate.