2024 AFS Talent Development & Retention Summit

AFS Headquarters
June 19 – 20, 2024


Talent development and retention is crucial to the success of foundries. In fact, AFS Quarterly Surveys document that overcoming the talent shortage is the greatest challenge facing our industry. 

Now is the time for your company and our industry to come together for solutions! 

Join other metalcasting HR directors, front-line managers, and expert presenters for the AFS Talent Development & Retention Summit on June 20, 2024, in Schaumburg, IL. 

  • Strengthen your ability to plan for succession in your company and to retain employees. 
  • Gain insight from a foundry industry veteran about supervisor development training principles. 
  • Bolster your understanding of live shooter prevention and response best practices from a nationally recognized expert. What you learn could save lives.
  • Receive a briefing on where the foundry industry has been, where it is today, and where it is headed.
  • Participate in a discussion about worker attraction and retention best practices.

The Talent Development & Retention Summit is also offering a special buy one registration, get one registration 50% off for attendees from the same organization. To take advantage of this offer, please call customer service directly at (800) 537-4237.

For information about sponsorship opportunities at the event, please contact Kim Farrugia at kfarrugia@afsinc.org or click here.


  • AFS Headquarters
  • Schaumburg, IL
  • June 19 – 20, 2024
Get Directions

Hotel Information

Hyatt House Chicago/Schaumburg
  • Hyatt House Chicago/Schaumburg
  • Schaumburg, IL
  • $125.00/plus tax per night

Call Hyatt House Chicago/Schaumburg directly at 1-888 HYATT HP (1-888-492-8847) (Hyatt Place) / 1-866 974 9288 (Hyatt House) or By going online to Hyatt.com and entering reservation using G-AMFJ as the group/corporate number. 

$125.00/plus tax per night – Standard Queen size bed with a full-size sofa sleeper and full kitchenette - Breakfast is included during normal breakfast operating hours.

Hotel Cancellation - Individual cancellations of the hotel rooms must be made 24 hours prior to arrival. Any cancellations of the hotel rooms within 24 hours of arrival or no-shows will be subject to a charge of one night room and tax.


Kristen Ziman
Former Police Chief of the Aurora IL Police Department (Ret.), Speaker, Author, Leader, and Change Agent

Kristen Ziman retired as Chief of Police for the Aurora, Illinois, Police Department. In Ziman’s 30-year career in law enforcement, she blazed trails: she became the first woman Lieutenant in 2008, first woman Commander in 2010, and eventually the first woman Chief in her department’s history in January of 2016. Kristen was also the Chief on watch during a mass shooting at manufacturing company who was also an AFS Corporate Member, in her hometown of Aurora, IL.

Since retiring from the department, Ziman has stepped into her new career as a professional speaker and consultant for organizations and police departments focused on the areas of leadership, women empowerment, positive psychology, and mass shooting prevention. 

Ziman is also the author of Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing, a passionate and personal memoir of a misunderstood profession through the vantage point of a female police chief.

Celina Peerman, Ph.D., CSP®, SHRM-SCP
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist & Human Resource Consultant, The Peerman Group

Dr. Celina Peerman has presented at numerous conferences for local, state, and national audiences. Peerman’s work in Southeast Asia, Canada and Central America gave additional operations experience, further developing her desire to listen, learn and lead conversations while walking alongside different types of companies, exploring challenges, and pursuing opportunities to drive performance. 

Peerman holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, a master’s degree in business, with undergraduate degrees in psychology and international studies. She is a 2-time TEDx presenter, podcaster, and writer. Peerman holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation, awarded by the National Speakers Association to less than 17% for those who qualify. She presents at over 250 events a year, including large and small groups with many one-on-ones. Her programs are aimed at helping team members make an even more positive impact on those around them.

Jim White

With over 20 years’ experience in the foundry industry working for Caterpillar Inc., Jim White was responsible for developing processes for iron castings, advanced product quality planning (APQP), design for manufacturability, and continuous improvement at Caterpillar’s Cast Metals Organization. The second half of White’s career was spent at Caterpillar’s Purchasing Division, providing leadership and technical expertise to both non-ferrous and ferrous casting suppliers. Eventually White would lead a team of purchasing professionals responsible for $200 million in world-wide casting spend. His unique blend of experience as both a casting producer and purchaser gives him a unique perspective on the Casting Industry. White has addressed the AFS Executive Conference and Metalcasting Congress concerning the state of the foundry industry from the purchaser’s perspective. White is the 2010 recipient of the Childress-Loebler Lifetime Achievement Award.

Amanda Groves
Vice President Human Resources, Lodge Cast Iron

Amanda Groves is the Vice President of Human Resources at Lodge Cast Iron. Groves graduated from West Virginia University with B.S. in Science and Finance and a M.S.I.R. in Human Resources. Groves is quoted as a passionate and highly skilled human resources leaders who drives results.

Derek Conrad Brown
President, Ken Chapman and Associates, Inc.

Derek Conrad Brown was named president of KC&A in August 2021. As longtime firm president, Dr. Ken Chapman assumed the role of Senior Partner and Founder. 

Brown initially joined KC&A in 2012. Previously, he was a partner in a startup tech company, which he managed alongside his business partner for 9 years, prior to selling his half. He also spent time working as an investment advisor.

Doug Kurkul
CEO, American Foundry Society

Doug Kurkul has been CEO of AFS since 2016. He began his career as a Presidential Management Fellow at SBA and later served as a Reagan Administration appointee at the Department of Energy in the nation’s capital. Kurkul went on to devote more than 20 years to the National Association of Manufacturers, including six years as Vice President of Member Communications and Marketing. While there, he published the award-winning magazine, Leadership for Manufacturers. He later served as CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, the Round Rock Chamber & Economic Development Partnership, and the Dallas-based Printing & Imaging Association of Mid-America, before joining AFS. His MPA degree is from The American University.

Conference Agenda

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
5 – 6 p.m.
Meet & Greet Networking Cocktail Reception at Hyatt House Schaumburg*

Come meet members of the AFS Talent Development Division and other summit attendees for some cocktails and networking. 

*Included in your registration fee.

Thursday, June 20, 2024
8 – 8:05 a.m.

Amanda Groves
Chair of the AFS Talent Development Division, Vice President of People & Culture, Lodge Cast Iron

8:10 – 8:30 a.m.
The Foundry Industry and AFS: Where We Are and Where We’re Headed

Doug Kurkul
CEO, American Foundry Society

8:30 – 10 a.m.
Preventing the Unthinkable

Kristen Ziman
Former Police Chief of the Aurora IL Police Department (Ret.), Speaker, Author, Leader, and Change Agent 

Organizations suffer when they fail to confront the risks that come with the uncertainty of the unknown crisis that looms. Kirsten Ziman has 27 years as a police officer and the chief who led her department through a mass shooting at a manufacturing company, a member of an International Mass Violence Advisory Team and called upon by the Department of Justice to investigate crisis, Kristen has come to learn that the key to confronting the certain uncertainty of a crisis is through preparedness. Kristen will teach you to equip your organization for the ever-looming uncertainty by supporting your team to craft the skill set needed to adapt through a crisis and the mindset to embrace (not brace for) the incoming change. She will share her knowledge and training to help you transform your organization into a team of first responders who can expertly navigate any challenge in business and life.

10 – 10:10 a.m.
10:10 – 11:15 a.m.
Panel – Employee Engagement: Strategies for a Stronger Workplace

Amanda Groves
Chair of the AFS Talent Development Division, Vice President of People & Culture, Lodge Cast Iron 

Derek Brown
President, Ken Chapman & Associates, Inc. 

If you asked a full room of people to define employee engagement, you would probably get a variety of different answers. The word “Engagement” has many definitions and means different things to people. Engagement must be defined by your organization and leadership team. During this panel, you’ll hear from several foundry professionals on what engagement means to them, why it is a critical focus area for successful businesses, and what they are doing to help drive employee engagement in their organizations.

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Networking Lunch*

*Included in registration fee.

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.
Activating Bench Strength - Building Leadership Succession and Front Line Competencies in an AI World

Celina Peerman, Ph.D., CSP®, SHRM-SCP 
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist & Human Resource Consultant 

Upskilling, reskilling, and creating long-lasting learning experiences are central to a well-qualified and change-ready workforce. This session will recognize ways you can lead the conversation from the front-line to the C-suite for a change-ready workforce. Succession planning, adaptable learning plans, and leadership competencies will be examined to move front line to formal leadership and leaders to our future goals. 

At the end of this session the participant should be able to:

  • Recognize ways you can lead the conversation with changing workforce skills demands.
  • Identify 2 models and 6 clear steps for succession planning and improving leadership training effectiveness.
  • Apply an action plan on the job after the session
1:45 – 2 p.m.
2 – 3 p.m.
Introduction to Supervisor Development: An Interactive Overview

Jim White

AFS Institute instructor Jim White will conduct a session with hands-on activities that will include role-playing to showcase effective supervisory skills from the AFS Institute's newest course: Introduction to Supervisor Development. This is a preview of the 2-day course that is designed to assist new supervisors acquire the knowledge and skills required to be an effective leader. The course covers a wide range of topics including team leadership, communication, employment issues, and building on your success as a leader. It is especially designed to help those in the metalcasting industry (union and non-union) who are supervising hourly or salaried workers. It is beneficial to those who have been recently promoted from hourly or salaried ranks who have little previous experience in supervision and for supervisors that have not had any formal training.

3 – 3:10 p.m.
3:10 – 4 p.m.
Roundtable Discussion on What is Impacting You

What’s impacting you? Please submit topics during the registration process.

4 p.m.
Adjourn For the Day

Hyatt Shuttle will provide your transportation back to the Hyatt House.

5:45 p.m.
Depart to Top Golf

Hyatt Shuttle will provide your transportation to TopGolf.

6 – 8 p.m.
Topgolf Networking Event & Dinner*

Join the AFS Talent Development Division and other conference attendees for networking and fun. A shuttle will take you from the Hyatt House to Topgolf, where you will join other attendees for some networking, competitive fun, dinner and cocktails. No prior golf experience is necessary. 

*Included in your registration fee. Bring a guest for an additional cost of $125. Guest can be added during the registration process.


Registration Fees

AFS member: $650.00
Non-member: $975.00 

Buy one registration, get the second 50% off. To qualify for buy one, get one pricing, call AFS Customer Service at (800) 537-4237. Both attendees must be from the same company/organization.

Cancellations & Substitutions

AFS presents a variety of technical and management conferences (in both in-person and virtual formats). The refund policy for AFS conferences is as follows: 1) Substitutions are accepted at no charge at any time up until the start of the conference; 2) Full refunds are offered if AFS is notified in writing of cancellation at least 30 days in advance of the conference. No refunds or credits are available for less than 30 days written notice.