During the 1970s, Harrison became more concerned with the application of scientific knowledge to the solution of societal problems and the importance of scientists' participation in the development of national policies. From 1972 to 1978 she served on the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making unit of the National Science Foundation. As a member of the NSB, she traveled to Antarctica to survey the scientific work being done at the American installation there. In 1971 she became the first woman to chair the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. She served on the editorial board of the Journal of Chemical Education from 1959 to 1966 and from 1970 to 1973, chairing that board in 1960 and 1964-1965. She also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of College Science Teaching, Chemical and Engineering News, and Science 80.
In 1978, Harrison became the first woman to be elected president of the American Chemical Society in the 102-year history of that society. Speaking of her election, she said that she saw no particular significance in this, because she did not campaign as a woman; however, she hoped that she would not be the last woman to be president of the ACS. 9 She was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1983, the fourth woman to occupy that post. Between 1975 and 1990, Harrison received the honorary degree of D.Sc. from ten institutions, including Smith College, Williams College, Lehigh University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Missouri. She also received the Manufacturing Chemists Association Award in College Chemistry for outstanding teaching in 1969 and the American Chemical Society Award in chemical education in 1982.
Speaking of her travels in the Oregon wilderness and in South America, Harrison once said, "What I really like is to go places one isn't supposed to go."10 In many ways this statement characterizes Anna Jane Harrison's entire life and career as a teacher, a researcher, and a spokesperson for the scientific community.