AFS Chief Executive Officer
As the CEO of AFS, Doug Kurkul draws on 30 years of business advocacy and association management experience. In past roles, he has served as CEO or President of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, the Round Rock Chamber & Economic Development Partnership, and the Printing & Imaging Association of Mid-America. He also is a past Vice President for Communications & Marketing Services at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a Reagan appointee at the Department of Energy, and a Presidential Management Fellow at the Small Business Administration. He has a master’s degree in Public Administration from the American University and a B.A. from Ashland University, as well as leadership training from Duke University’s Center for Creative Leadership. Kurkul has served on numerous boards, including the Texas Association of Business and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. He is past editor of Leadership for Manufacturers magazine and the award-winning book, Manufacturing in America: A Legacy of Excellence.
Vice President of IT and Operations
Mike Lakas joined AFS in 2014 and made immediate contributions by beginning to modernize the organization’s technology functions and instituting an internal Kaizen team. He was promoted to Vice President of IT and Operations in September 2017. In his expanded role, he heads up not only IT, but also conference management, customer service, and building operations. Before joining AFS in 2014, Mike held IT roles at a medical society and at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He holds an MBA and a bachelor of science degree from that institution.
Director of Accounting and Finance
Peggy Mennella joined the AFS senior leadership team as Director of Accounting and Finance in May 2018. She is responsible for the accounting and reporting requirements of the AFS and the Institute. Mennella has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois-Chicago and is a certified public accountant licensed with the state of Illinois. She is a member of both the American Institute and Illinois Society of CPAs and appreciates the importance and need for professional societies advocating education and innovations. She brings many years of experience in public accounting, concentrating in audit and tax and not-for-profit association management accounting. Before joining AFS, she was accounting manager for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Richard Jefferson joined AFS as Vice President of Marketing & Communications in January 2017. He brings extensive marketing and management experience with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals. He also was a Bush (43) Administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has master’s degrees in public policy and communications and a bachelor’s in English literature. He staffs the AFS Marketing Committee and oversees editorial, website and social media content, as well as branding and marketing.
Director of Human Resources & Administrative Services
Cathy Potts joined AFS in 2015 and was promoted to Director of Human Resources & Administrative Services in 2017. In addition to administering all HR functions, she provides administrative support to the CEO, staffs the Human Resources Committee, and is the staff co-liaison to Future Leaders of Metalcasting. Her extensive experience includes 16 years at Navistar in human resources and involvement in global recruiting and staffing, organizational development and training, employee relations and compensation.
Vice President of Business Development
Ben Yates joined AFS in 2017, where he is responsible for membership development, chapter relationships, advertising sales, event sponsorships, and industry solutions programs. Before joining AFS, Ben spent 14 years with Associated Equipment Dealers, a North American trade group serving construction equipment dealerships. In addition to regular writing and speaking duties at AFS, he has extensive experience in grassroots advocacy, having hosted facility tours with more than 60 U.S. senators and congressmen. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and master’s degree from Florida State University.
Vice President of Education and Workforce Development
Clarence Trowbridge joined AFS as the Vice President of Education and Workforce Development in 2018. Trowbridge brings 30 years of workforce development experience for companies including Inland Steel Company and BP. From 1996 to 2006, he built a successful education program for ESW Inc. In 2016, he published a book, Maintenance Workforce Solutions: An Organizational Development Approach. Trowbridge, who also has experience working in a foundry, is a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, where he was an electronics repair technician. As a reservist, he was an instructor for the Army Non-Commissioned Officer Academy in Indiana. He has an MBA in organizational development and a bachelor’s degree in communications.