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The rules for SC states that one should retain A, if it is grammatically correct. If A is grammatically correct, you can choose another answer choice however, IF and only IF, the other answer choice is more concise than A, or if the other answer choice is in the active voice, whereas A is passive.
Some of you have argued that "former" is unnecessary. How so? if you skip "former", E conveys the sense that Joan Philkill has been the chair for 18 years and still is.
With choice A, it is clear that Joan Philkill is not the chair anymore. The correct answer choice should retain the meaning of the original sentence. E changes the meaning altogether.