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.
Director of Finance & Accounting
Kris Drager, the longest-serving member of the senior leadership team, joined AFS in 1979. She is Director of Finance & Accounting, leads a three-person team, and oversees the financial well-being of AFS and the Institute with an eye for detail. She also has played a key role in the success of AFS’s trade shows as exhibits director of CastExpo and the annual Metalcasting Congress.
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.
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 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.