Association Awards

April 25 - 28, 2021 | Atlanta, GA, USA

Congratulations to TAPPI's 
2020 Association Award Winners

Recognizing scientific achievement, outstanding leadership, professional excellence, and service to our industry and communities, these awards do more than honor those receiving them—they highlight the qualities valued by TAPPI members.



Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award

The TAPPI Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award is the highest honor that the Association can bestow upon an individual. Established in 1928, the Gold Medal is granted to those “who have made preeminent scientific and engineering achievements of proven applied benefit to the world’s pulp, paper, board, and forest product industries.


Mark Lewis - Gunnar Nicholson Award Winner


Mark Lewis

Sustainable Fiber Technologies


After founding Sustainable Fiber Technologies (SFT) in 2015, Lewis guided the Renton, WA-based company through development of the Phoenix Process, an environmentally friendly method for pulping nonwood biomass materials. The Phoenix Process has been licensed by a number of facilities to produce sustainable packaging, molded products, tissue and toweling, and more. Today, Lewis is CEO of both SFT and Phoenix Pulp and Polymer.

Lewis began his education in pulping nonwoods 40 years ago, pulping corn stover alongside Dr. Herb Schroeder at Colorado State University. His corporate career started at the Weyerhaeuser research department in Longview, WA. He joined TAPPI in 1978 and within a year was involved in the various testing division committees. He finished his Weyerhaeuser tenure in the Papermaking Research Group working on the Extended Nip Project and felt development and prediction models.

After a stint with Noram Testing Equipment, Lewis went back into research as a papermaking research manager for a precipitated calcium carbonate manufacturer, a job that took him to fine paper mills across North America. Lewis spent 17 years at the University of Washington teaching papermaking, fiber physics, and pulping and bleaching. There, Lewis renewed his research work in nonwood pulping, knowing as a papermaker that if he could have good fibers, he could make good paper. In 2015, Lewis left the university to start SFT and develop the Phoenix Process. Today, ten of his former students work for SFT, and the Phoenix Process is being used on a number of biomass materials in North America, with a European mill slated to start using the process in 2021.

Lewis has been an active TAPPI member, and served as TAPPI Student Chapter Faculty Advisor at the University of Washington from 1999-2014. He served as an officer with TAPPI’s Pacific Local Section and now chairs the TAPPI Nonwood Committee.

Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award

Established in 1983, the TAPPI Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor that the Association can bestow upon an individual for exemplary leadership that has significantly contributed to the advancement of the Association. 

Gordon Bugg - Herman Joachim Award Winner

Gordon Bugg



Gordon Bugg, senior engineer at Kemira Oyj, began his career in 1981 as a PM process engineer at the Mahrt, AL, mill of Alabama Kraft (later Mead and now WestRock). Bugg progressed to coating superintendent and held that post until 2001. He then joined Eka Chemicals and later Akzo Nobel; in 2015 his group was part of an acquisition by Kemira Oyj. Paralleling his career in the paper industry, Bugg retired from the US Army Reserve in 2009 after 30 years of service, holding the permanent rank of Colonel. His assignments included Command positions in Chemical, Special Forces, and Logistics units. His awards include the Parachutist badge, the Bronze Star, and the Legion of Merit.

A TAPPI member since 1981, Bugg is very active with the Gulf Coast Local Section and received the Paul Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Member Award in 1997. He became involved with the TAPPI Coating and Graphic Arts Division in 1988 and is active on the Division’s Coating Operations Committee. He has served as committee chair many times and played an active role in the Division. Bugg was elected to the TAPPI Board of Directors in 1999, concluding his term in 2002.

“Gordon has a natural ability to sense what needs improvement in organizational operations, define the root cause, and implement initiatives that become remedies,” writes TAPPI Fellow John Niemiec. “His service and contributions have had a significant and highly beneficial effect on TAPPI.”

TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year Award

The TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year Award is presented to a senior-level executive in the pulp, paper, or converting industries for excellence in management and outstanding contribution to the industry as a whole.

Steve Voorhees - Executive of the Year

Steve Voorhees



Bringing together different companies, and different corporate cultures, may be the ultimate test of a leader—but it’s a challenge Steve Voorhees has met time and time again. Voorhees is CEO of WestRock and is also a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to his current role, Voorhees was CEO of RockTenn and also served in various executive leadership roles, including president and chief operating officer. Voorhees earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and mathematics from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Since WestRock was developed in 2015 from the merging of packaging giants RockTenn and MeadWestvaco, the company under Voorhees has completed 19 acquisitions, including the US$2.28 billion buy in 2017 of Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS), as well as the spin-off of its specialty chemicals business, the sale of its dispensing business, and the sale of most of its land and development assets. The acquisitions dramatically grew WestRock in size, and with greater geographic and end-product reach. WestRock, on track to US$18 billion in revenue and with 50,000 employees, is the second largest US paper industry company and is ranked No. 2 in containerboard and No. 1 in boxboard. Voorhees has earned this prestigious honor—presented to senior-level executives in the pulp, paper, or converting industries for excellence in management and outstanding contributions to the industry—for leading WestRock through unprecedented growth and success.


Paul W. Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Member Award   

The Paul W. Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Member Award was established to recognize outstanding leadership and exceptional service to one or more Local Sections which has resulted in significant and demonstrable benefits to Local Section members.

Andrew Chorney - Paul Magnabosco Award Winner

Andy Chorney



Andrew Chorney has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University and was a member of the university’s first solar car race team, the “Sol of Auburn.” Now a technical services manager for Essity Professional Hygiene North America, LLC, Chorney has more than 29 years of paper industry experience, starting with Champion International in Courtland, AL, which later became International Paper.

During his career, Chorney has been involved in green field and brown field mill projects from design, construction, startup, and operations. He has been active in talent acquisition and training of entry level engineers, operating technicians, and maintenance crafts into the paper industry and enjoys building a future for the next generation of paper professionals.

Chorney joined TAPPI in 1991. He is an active participant in the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section, sitting on its executive committee and serving in various officer positions for repeated tenures. He has also been a participating member on the TAPPI Yankee Dryer Safety Committee.

The Magnabosco Award recognizes Chorney’s remarkable leadership and service to the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section. “Andy has gone far beyond organizing complete meetings, working through the chair positions (twice), and functioning as a true voice and guiding force,” writes fellow Gulf Coast member Glenn M. Hanson. “Andy’s efforts have helped keep the Division viable.”

Young Professionals of the Year  

The Young Professionals of the Year Award recognizes aspiring, young leaders in the global forest products, pulp, paper, packaging, tissue, and related industries. Eligible nominees are age 35 or younger with less than 10 years of industry experience. For 2020, TAPPI has chosen five recipients based on their outstanding leadership, community service, and problem-solving contributions to scientific or engineering projects.

 Peyton Clifton - Young Professional Award

Peyton Clifton

Mechanical Project Engineer


A 2017 graduate from the University of Tennessee, Clifton holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Aerospace Engineering. As lead project engineer for a cost savings- and safety-driven project at his mill, Clifton developed a passion for reliability and long-term profitability. He hopes to someday bring his talents to a role as maintenance and engineering manager. As an Eagle Scout, leadership comes naturally to Clifton; he already mentors an entry-level engineer at his mill, and volunteers with his local United Way.

John DeJarnette - Young Professional Award

John DeJarnette

Senior Researcher


DeJarnette’s research work has focused on advancing paperboard product performance and developing new pulping, bleaching, wet end chemistry, and refining techniques. As part of the Tres Barras project team, he earned the 2017 WestRock Innovation Excellence Award for fiber science contributions. DeJarnette’s analysis of mill process information to determine the impact of refiner plate performance on PM quality resulted in a US$500,000 potential cost savings for his mill. He is an Eagle Scout who continues to support Scouting in his community, among other service activities.

John Edwards - Young Professional Award

John Edwards

Operations Superintendent


“Making a positive impact on people” is a driving force for Edwards, an NCSU graduate who was instrumental in recent water reduction efforts at his mill. He is already a respected leader at his mill and aspires to continue to develop his leadership skills to serve as a mentor to others. Edwards is a staunch contributor to his community and his church, and serves as secretary of TAPPI’s Papermaking Technology and Operations Committee.

Natasha Melton - Young Professional Award

Natasha Melton

Senior Researcher


At WestRock, Melton has worked to develop aqueous coating solutions for paperboard, ranging from graphical print quality enhancement to development of new and sustainable materials for barrier performance in packaging. She graduated cum laude from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology. Melton led the Richmond Women of Science and Engineering Diversity and Inclusion team; served as guest speaker at Virginia Commonwealth University, discussing the pulp and paper industry; and led the “Pathways to Science” event, mentoring Hispanic high school students interested in STEM careers.

Nika Wanerski - Young Professinal Award

Nika Wanserski

Shift Supervisor
Neenah Inc.


As a shift supervisor, Wanserski strives every day to solve problems and develop engineering solutions. She is fascinated by both the business and operational aspects of the paper industry, and hopes to eventually serve as a VP of operations. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wanserski triple-majored in Paper Science, Chemical Engineering, and Spanish, with minors in Biofuels and Chemistry; her hard work earned her the 2016 PIMA Student of the Year Award. She is dedicated to safety leadership on the job, and to community service in her free time.

TAPPI Journal Best Research Paper for 2019


"The solubility of calcium carbonate in green liquor handling systems"


Alisha Giglio, Vladimiros Papangelakis, and Honghi Tran

October 2019