From the CEO: Celebration, growth and gratitude

AME | November 17, 2023

I am still celebrating the success of the AME Cleveland International Conference. The people and the learning environment were so energizing. As lean leaders, we know that an important and worthy piece of the continuous improvement journey is the celebration. In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes overlook opportunities to reflect on our wins and accomplishments.

I want to share some of my AME Cleveland 2023 Conference highlights.

  • Observing Cleveland Conference chair April Schmidt and her conference team truly “rocking” Cleveland.
  • Watching the AME Home Team make all the magic happen behind the scenes.
  • Watching Michael Jerome’s (aka Jeremy) run of the show expertise and the Excellence Award videos.
  • Having AME Australia leadership join us in person.
  • Watching as the AME Champions Club networked
  • Holding our first international breakfast and marveling at the diversity of the countries represented.
  • Awarding bragging rights to Tracy O’Rourke for receiving the 1st annual AME conference song contest award. You must admit that was hysterical and very creative.
  • Watching adults play with balloons and make paper airplanes and realizing how competitive our attendees are.
  • Admiring how our MC, Jon Colby, always makes learning fun.
  • Experiencing the tours – such a wide diversity of industries and best practices.
  • Listening to our fantastic keynote speakers. Weren’t they so inspiring?
  • Seeing and feeling people-centered leadership.
  • Stopping in on sessions where the “sharing, learning and growing” was incredible.
  • Proudly watching the 2023 AME Emerging Leaders cohort present their Capstone project. That was so inspirational.
  • Attending my first pro basketball game. Grateful for my fellow attendee with a Lyft app – it was cold that night!
  • Meeting all of you and finally connecting in person with some who I’ve only met via Zoom.

Here’s what others shared. Bob Cenek from Minerals Technologies said, “Our folks enjoyed the conference – and immensely so! Getting selected to attend the conference is a big deal at MTI.”

Former AME Board chair Marc Braun shared, “The team knocked it out of the park. The exhibitors I spoke to were happy, the members were learning and growing, and the volunteers seemed fully engaged. Most impactful for me was the clear message and power of inclusion.”

Jim Nother from Nothers said, “Returning to AME after a decade was a heartwarming experience. It allowed me to reconnect with old acquaintances and build new friendships, and it reminded me of how much I’ve missed being a part of this remarkable organization.”

What were your favorite moments from the conference?

Again, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for everyone’s hard work and dedication. This journey is so special because of all of you.

2023 AME Western Region Board members connecting at the AME Cleveland International Conference (From left to right): Ryan Zeng, Diem Lewis, Tracy O’Rourke, Melisa Buie, John Rubio, Jennifer Ayers (Camera shy): Donnie Gilliam

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.

I want to share an exciting opportunity for our Canadian AME members! The Canadian government has funded NGen, Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Global Innovation Cluster, to provide grants to Canadian manufacturers to upskill their workforce. Each company that signs up is eligible to receive an 80% reimbursement for up to $10,000 in training for its workers. You are also eligible to join NGen’s Transformation Leadership Program at an 80% discount to help your leadership team align around your transformation roadmap! Apply today at