Five questions with...AME's new president and CEO

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
1. Tell us a little about your background with lean and operational excellence, and your experiences with AME.

I have had an exciting and diverse career in defense contracting, automotive, business systems and nonprofit management for both domestic and international companies serving in leadership roles in supply chain, quality, warranty, operations, process excellence and continuous improvement. I recently managed the supplier development initiatives for a major government contractor building aircraft carriers and submarines for the U.S. Navy. In this role, our supply base consisted of 4,700 suppliers in 47 states and 10 foreign countries. These opportunities allowed me to be a lean practitioner, benchmark with companies in all aspects of lean and continuous improvements and utilize lean tools to help improve organizations. It has been my privilege to witness and participate in many exciting transformations in technology, innovation, engagement and workforce development. The future is so exciting as we engage our next-generation lean leaders.

I previously served as the executive director of a nonprofit organization focused on conflict resolution and mediation services for the community, courts and businesses. In this role, I learned how valuable volunteers are to an organization and the importance of the staff and volunteer collaboration and partnership. The nonprofit world is amazing — everyone comes to it with a passion and the willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. Our mission is “to inspire a commitment to enterprise excellence through experiential learning by bring people together to share, learn and grow” with the vision of “a manufacturing renaissance driven by people-centric leadership coupled with enterprise excellence.” Our staff, stakeholders and volunteers live this mission and values.

That has been my experience as a volunteer with AME — the staff, the volunteers and the customers have that same passion and drive, which is why I feel so strongly about our mission and people.

To tell you a little more about me, I am a lifelong volunteer and have always served in volunteer and board positions. I presently serve on the board of the Virginia Senate Productivity and Quality Award, a state Baldrige organization working with Virginia and Washington, D.C., businesses to improve. I have been a state and national Baldrige examiner. I am also a certified Virginia Supreme Court Mediator and Mentor and volunteer my time mediating cases.

2. You’ve been an AME member and volunteer for years. When you first encountered AME, what were your first impressions and how have those impressions changed over time?

My AME experience has been a journey. I was initially approached about six years ago by an AME Southeastern Region board member who asked what I knew about AME. When I responded “not a lot,” he asked if I would like to join the board. My first response was that I did not want to join the board if I did not add value. Little did I know how much AME would engage me!

As a person who has always volunteered and served on many boards and professional organizations, I saw unique opportunities with AME. My Baldrige background and continuous improvement experience blended well with AME’s mission. AME’s focus on enterprise excellence and people-centric leadership and core values of volunteerism, practitioner focused, integrity and trust, engaging and welcoming and a passion for excellence touched and enticed me. And to be at the forefront of lean thinking to best serve our member’s needs was exciting. I also liked that AME, itself, is on a continuous improvement journey and is interested in how to always better improve our services to our members and their organizations. As a new volunteer, I felt heard and valued.

Since being elected to the AME Southeastern Region board of directors, my AME journey has been as fulfilling as it has been diverse. Along with hosting several successful regional events over the past few years, I have facilitated several Manufacturing Days, served on the programs committees for several AME international conferences, recruited AME personnel for the Champions Club and the Emerging Leaders Program, and helped with the Southeastern Region’s Atlanta Lean Summit. I am also coordinating a consortium in the Hampton Roads, Va., area this year. I have also served as an AME Excellence Award assessor for the past four years and performed assessments with an amazingly talented team of AME assessors in the United States, China, France and Brazil. I have written for Target and was also featured in Target in 2016.

Isn’t it funny, that my whole AME journey started with one person asking, “what do you know about AME?” We all have that opportunity to share and manage the next group of lean leaders — ask one person this week that question and let them know how much AME has helped you and your organization. Who knows — you may be recruiting the next generation of AME leadership.


3. AME has a long history of helping lean take hold in North American and then shaping its evolution. What is your vision for the future of AME?

AME has something for everyone and has helped tens of thousands of companies share, learn and grow through lean best practices. We will continue to serve our customer by engaging them in local consortia, hosting regional training events, facilitating learning opportunities at the international level, engaging senior leadership in our Champions Club or adding them to our Emerging Leaders Program. I commit to listening to our customers and providing value added services to help them continue their lean journey.

In addition, with the increased focus on corporate social responsibility and the focus on reducing company carbon footprint and making better use of precious natural resources, AME has an opportunity to align these priorities with our mission. Integrating technology is also key. I envision AME as working hand-in-hand with our stakeholders as we help individuals and businesses get better at what they do – and we are just getting started.


4. AME is probably best known to many as the host of the world’s largest lean conference. What does AME’s International Conference mean to the you?

The International Conference is the most exciting time for me. Attending my first conference and networking with like-minded individuals who shared my passion for lean was thrilling. There is no place else you can go where you can learn from experts and peers, and where true sharing occurs. The excitement and the tangible takeaways are what keeps me coming back every year. I have attended several AME conferences, and every year, I still believe that year’s is the best one ever.

The conference is the definitive learning experience for continuous improvement practitioners. It has given me a peer network who I keep in touch with regularly, exposed me to visionary thinking that continues to shape the operational excellence practice at organizations large and small, and allowed me to see — up close and personal during tours — how companies are implementing lean.


5. What makes you most excited about this opportunity to lead AME into the future?

Who would have thought that one simple question, “What do you know about AME” would lead six years later to the role of AME president and CEO? I love what AME does for our members, I learn every day from the leadership, volunteers and members, I have developed a solid network of trusted peers, and I have developed a true friendship with some of the most talented group of people ever. I am truly humbled to be selected to serve you, the AME members, volunteers, stakeholders and staff.

I am a very passionate person and commit to an open and transparent organization focused on people-centric leadership. Authentic communication is very important as we continue to transform and improve to address all the needs of our current and future members. I am excited to hear the innovative ideas the staff, volunteers and members have as we share, learn and grow together. As we embark on our continuous improvement journey, I commit to “honoring the past, celebrating the present and embracing the future.” Please reach out to me at any time to share your ideas on how we can serve you better.