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.
Senior Vice President for IT, Operations and Trade Shows
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 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 Marketing & Business Development
Ben Yates joined AFS in 2017, where he is responsible for marketing and public relations, 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.
Senior Director of Accounting & Finance
Chris Oswald joined AFS in 2021, overseeing accounting and reporting requirements for AFS and the Institute. He is a CPA with an accounting degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chris has years of experience as a CFO, financial reporting director, accounting manager, and auditor.
Vice President of Metalcasting Technical Services
Brian Began has more than two decades of technical experience in the metalcasting industry. He joined AFS in 2021, having worked 23 years in key roles with Foseco. He also served on the staff at ASM International. Began has a degree in materials science from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Ashland University. As an AFS member, he volunteered in leadership positions for the AFS Technical Council and the Aluminum & Light Metals Division.