By Michelle Graff
Katherine Bodoh has been named the new CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories. She’s slated to take the helm in March 2017, replacing retiring CEO Ruth Batson.
Las Vegas--The American Gem Society announced Thursday that Katherine Bodoh, its current deputy executive director, will take over as CEO next year when longtime leader Ruth Batson retires.

She succeeds a woman whom she considers to be both a friend and mentor, and is only the second woman named CEO in AGS’s 82-year history.

Bodoh officially will take over March 1, with Batson staying on until the end of May--a period that will include the biggest AGS event of the year, Conclave--to assist in the transition.

A native of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, Bodoh joined AGS as the deputy executive director in April 2015 from Neenah, Wisconsin-based Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.

There, as the company’s director of commercial lines marketing and industry relations, she began working in a strategic partnership role with AGS. She also was very active as a liaison between the AGS Guilds and Jewelers Mutual.

Prior to that, Bodoh was special events manager at MJSA.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Loyola University in New Orleans and is an AGS Registered Jeweler (RJ).

Commenting on the appointment to National Jeweler on Thursday, Batson said she and Bodoh share “a very deep respect for the AGS’s mission and the commitment to consumer protection,” but added that Bodoh brings her own skill set and vision for AGS and AGS Laboratories to the table as well.

When asked about that vision, Bodoh said she wants to continue to improve the technology used to communicate messages and provide services, as well as to provide an excellent experience to customers of AGS Labs.

She said she also wants to expand the AGS’s efforts in the area of consumer awareness, something the organization really emphasized this year with the launch of its consumer ad campaign.

Bodoh said among the biggest challenges currently facing AGS members are finding a way to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace and delivering the excellent experience needed to compete with other luxury goods.

Batson, who announced her intention to retire at the beginning of the year, started working at AGS in 1993 and was appointed CEO in 2002. (The title of CEO of AGS Labs was added in 2012.)

She said Thursday that she was exactly the same age as Bodoh is now when she took the helm at AGS--38.

The search for her replacement officially began in August, with an internal committee made up of AGS members, led by jeweler and former AGS board President Louis Smith, working with San Francisco-based search firm Carlson Beck to solicit candidates.

Batson said there were a total of 55 applicants to start. The field eventually was narrowed down to five candidates and then reduced again before they selected Bodoh.

After retirement, Batson will split her time between her home in Las Vegas, where AGS is headquartered, and her family’s ranch in Montana.

“She’s been a mentor to me, and she will always be a mentor, a close friend and professional advisor for the rest of my life,” Bodoh said of Batson.
“And I am honored to do that,” Batson replied.

Bodoh also credited the AGS staff for aiding in the organization’s success.

“I am honored to be the next leader but ... we are surrounded by wonderful people and that’s why we are able to do what we do here, (that) and our partnership with our board of directors.”

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