Executive Team Executive Director & CEO Robert "Bob" WilligExecutive Director & CEO Robert "Bob" Willig is a passionate business leader with a demonstrated track record driving financial and operational performance, turnaround leadership, lean implementation and new business development accomplishments over a broad range of businesses in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Willig has extensive global experience and has led teams across multiple cultures, regions and disciplines. He has served as a director on numerous boards in North America, Japan, Korea and China, and has directed several acquisition teams through diligence, acquisition and integration. Willig most recently served as president, Control Devices for Stoneridge Inc. He fully restructured the business, focusing on value creation and growth within the emerging autonomous and electrified vehicle segments. As the president and CEO of Plasan Carbon Composites, Willig reorganized this high-technology business to grow with lightweight solutions for key automotive customers. As president, GKN Driveline Americas, he led significant, profitable growth while driving investment efficiency and operational excellence. Willig opened five new facilities supporting the expansion of technical capabilities, new product introduction and an optimized manufacturing footprint. During his three-plus years as president of GKN Sinter Metals Americas, Willig delivered significant improvement in profit, cash and overall customer satisfaction while growing at more than twice the market. He guided a strong focus on cost management actions and a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, allowing improvements in OEE, machine utilization and reduced capital costs. Prior to GKN, Willig held increasingly senior leadership roles at Tomkins Plc. (Gates Corp.) including as president, power transmission and president, automotive. He is also the former president of Stackpole International, a North American-based supplier of powder metal components and engineered pump assemblies. Willig earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lawrence Technological University and MBA from Wayne State University. SME Member Since 2020 Chief Financial and Strategy Officer Craig ConnopChief Financial and Strategy Officer Craig Connop joined SME in July 2019 as its chief financial officer, bringing more than 25 years of experience in financial management within the manufacturing industry to his role. In his newly expanded role as SME’s chief financial and strategy officer, Connop will drive the development of comprehensive strategic and business development plans across the organization in alignment with SME’s vision, mission and purpose. Previously, he served as the vice president of finance at Stoneridge Control Devices, a Tier 1 automotive supplier with more than $500M in annual operations. Connop was also the CFO and vice president of finance and IT at GKN Driveline Americas and the vice president of finance, purchasing and IT at GKN Sinter Metals, Americas. He began his career with a British engineering company, Delta PLC (now part of Eaton Corp.) and successfully moved from its graduate training program into higher-level finance positions. With his multidisciplinary experience, including purchasing, operations and risk management alongside more traditional finance and IT roles, Connop works very effectively cross-culturally and in a wide variety of organizational structures. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Central England in Birmingham and qualified as a chartered management accountant in 1999. SME Member Since 2019 Chief Operating Officer Steve PrahalisChief Operating Officer Steve Prahalis joined SME in October 2003 and currently serves as its chief operating officer. Prahalis leads key strategic units including SME Media and SME Events while continuing to oversee Canadian Operations and SME Studios. His passion revolves around finding ways to amplify SME’s value to members, strategic partners, customers and volunteers to drive greater integration, ensure efficiency and enable stronger strategic execution across the entire organization. Prahalis is focused on growing and diversifying a $50M portfolio of products and services, committed to continuous improvement and obsessed with innovation. He is responsible for several important initiatives and launches such as SME’s Corporate Membership program, the Manufacturing Technology Series (MT Series), Customer F1RST program and EventLIVE, SME’s digital community platform. Previously, Prahalis was president of the Canadian Division of Reed Exhibitions, a leading global producer of trade shows and events serving a variety of markets. He also served in various positions at Key3Media, including director of strategic alliances and vice president of its International Division. Prahalis is a member of the International Association of Expositions and Events, has served as chair on its Executive Task Force and received CAEM’s Lifetime Achievement Award. SME Member Since 2007 Chief Workforce Development Officer Jeannine KunzChief Workforce Development Officer Jeannine Kunz is the chief workforce development officer at SME, including the leadership responsibility for Tooling U-SME, the learning and development arm of SME, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the manufacturing industry. There, she leads a team dedicated to the ongoing education and training of the workforce. A recognized expert in the field of learning and development, Kunz is at the forefront of workforce management issues, providing forward-thinking learning and development solutions for companies, academia and individuals. She is deeply knowledgeable about the challenges facing the manufacturing workforce and provides guidance on best practices for designing, developing and implementing performance-based development strategies in today's advanced manufacturing environments. Her work directly addresses industry dynamics related to people's knowledge and skills in manufacturing. Under Kunz's direction, Tooling U-SME is an innovative pioneer in 21st-century learning, from online classes and virtual reality labs to traditional instructor-led training. Additionally, the organization has developed and implemented competency-based occupational apprenticeship programs, several of which have been endorsed by the Department of Labor and is a nationally recognized certifying body in manufacturing for over 50 years. Under Kunz’s leadership, Tooling U-SME launched the first-ever aerospace engineering apprenticeship, and partnered with the Robert C. Byrd Institute, America Makes, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers and AST2 to co-develop the first industry-vetted and U.S. Department of Labor approved framework for a new 3D-printing technician apprenticeship. Kunz served on the executive committee of America Makes and is a board member for the National Coalition of Career Development, chair for the National Defense Industrial Association’s Manufacturing Workforce Committee and sits on the Manufacturing USA’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing’s Education & Workforce Advisory Committee. She is also a founding member of the Skilled Trades Coalition, a consortium of over 20 leaders from associations that collaborate to improve awareness and perceptions of skilled trades. In 2020, Kunz joined the industry advisory committee for Clemson University’s THINKER graduate program funded by the National Science Foundation, and in 2022, she was newly appointed as board member for the Manufacturing Technology Deployment Group. “Crain's Detroit Business” recognized Kunz’s work when the publication selected her as one of its 2018 Notable Women in Manufacturing – in Michigan as well as one of its 2019 Notable Women in Education. A keen industry observer and insider, Kunz is frequently asked to provide insights and perspectives on manufacturing and learning and development at conferences, events and caucuses across the country. She serves on several industry advisory boards and offers her expertise on the manufacturing sector as a regular contributor, appearing over the years in CNBC news, IndustryWeek, Training Magazine, "Chicago Tribune," NPR Marketplace, The Fabricator and many other media outlets. She has testified before a Congressional House Subcommittee on manufacturing workforce and apprenticeship and most recently testified for a House Committee focused on the critical supply chain for the Department of Defense. Kunz earned a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing with a concentration in economics from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She has served on EMU's Alumni Board and the Pittsburgh State University College of Technology Board of Directors.SME Member Since 2008 Executive Team Kathleen BorgulaVice President, Human Resources Kathleen Borgula joined SME in 2000 and currently serves as the vice president of Human Resources. In this role, Borgula is responsible for leadership coaching, staffing, employee relations, compensation, benefits and payroll, as well as statutory and legal compliance for all SME employees and businesses across three locations. Prior to joining SME, Borgula was a technical recruiter at Acro Service Corporation. Borgula earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Michigan State University, as well as a master’s degree in management and a master’s degree in business administration from Walsh College. SME Member Since 2020 Sheronda L. CarrVice President, Membership Sheronda L. Carr is the vice president of membership for SME. Carr comes to SME from the National Association of Home Builders where she spent 16 years, most recently as executive director of customized member services. While at NAHB, she was responsible for providing strategic management of products and services to support specific disciplines within the construction industry and had member service oversight to all the organization’s membership councils, consisting of six professional networks and hundreds of local chapters nationally. Prior to NAHB, Carr directed marketing and business development for engineering firm Legion Design Campbell & Associates where she organized new and existing marketing initiatives, developed marketing resources and expanded relationships with government agencies and minority business enterprises. Carr holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Bowie State University and an MBA from Strayer University. SME Member Since 2021 Erica CiupakVice President, Information Technology Erica Ciupak joined SME in August 2013 as the vice president of Information Technology. Ciupak has been in strategic technology roles in many industries, including higher education, engineering services, healthcare and manufacturing. She is also involved in many community and industry organizations, including the Michigan Council of Women in Technology, Detroit Yacht Club and Pewabic Pottery. Ciupak has a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics and Public Policy from Indiana University. Debbie ClarkDirector, Governance Debbie Clark joined SME in 1978 and currently is the director of Governance. In this role, she works directly with the SME and SME Education Foundation Officers and Board of Directors. In addition to the board activities, Clark is the staff lead for the Past Presidents Committee, Officer Nominating Committee, Director and Member Council Nominating Committee, Awards & Recognition Committee and the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. As a longtime SME employee, Clark has held various roles with experience in all areas of SME — membership, events, certification and communications. SME Member Since 2019 Tracy Cullen, CAE Senior Director, Strategic Communications and Brand Management Tracy Cullen was recruited to SME in 2022 as the first senior director of strategic communications and brand management, leading the development of impactful communications, media, public relations and brand management strategies aligned with SME’s individual business units and overall strategic plan. Cullen joined SME from NEMA (the National Electrical Manufacturers Association) where she served for six years as assistant vice president, communications and brand management. Cullen was hired at NEMA as a change agent to form the first fully integrated communications and marketing department in the association's history, directing corporate communications, membership marketing and meeting planning teams, as well as leading NEMA through a repositioning campaign that included brand modernization, infrastructure reconstruction and material redesign. As the in-house strategist for 56 product sections, she led many sector-specific initiatives, including advocacy outreach, stakeholder engagement and consumer education campaigns. Prior to NEMA, Cullen led global marketing and communications initiatives for PLASTICS (the Plastics Industry Association), rising to senior vice president. There, she led the association through a name change, dues restructuring and rebranding initiative. Cullen developed multimillion-dollar event marketing campaigns for NPE, one of the largest global trade shows, spanning one million square feet and attracting 65,000 attendees, which fueled gate revenue of $1M. She also managed aggressive advocacy campaigns to fight material and product bans. While at PLASTICS, her team became the first industry group to successfully reverse a blanket material ban by Walmart, and she partnered with Edelman Public Relations to fight proposed plastic bag bans at state and local levels. Cullen also managed the plastic industry partnership with Walt Disney Corp. in a $7M multiyear consumer education campaign about the benefits of plastics. She holds a bachelor's degree in speech communication from George Mason University where she graduated cum laude, as well as earned a professional certificate in digital media management from Georgetown University. Cullen maintains a professional certification in association management from the American Society of Association Executives and is an active member in the National Press Club and Washington Women in Public Relations. SME Member Since 2022 Rob LuceVice President, SME Education Foundation Rob Luce is the vice president of the SME Education Foundation. In this role, he is responsible for oversight and direction of all development and partnership efforts, scholarship administration and development and educational outreach via the SME PRIME Schools initiative. Prior to joining the SME Education Foundation in January 2019, Luce was executive director of The Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corp., where he was responsible for the strategic development and day-to-day operations of the organization. Luce also formerly served as the director of MICHauto and Automotive Retention & Growth at the Detroit Regional Chamber, where he worked to market the state’s automotive assets, advocate the industry’s interests in Lansing, recruit automotive and next-generation mobility investment into Michigan, and create opportunities for automotive companies to augment their talent pipeline. Prior to joining the chamber, Luce was a legislative aide in the Michigan State Senate and served as fundraising director for a State Senate Campaign. He has also worked in government relations and as an executive mortgage banker at Quicken Loans. Luce holds degrees from Eastern Michigan University and Adrian College, as well as certificates in public budget management and local government management. SME Member Since 2019 Dave O’NeilVice President, Media Dave O’Neil joined SME in December 2014 as vice president of Media. In this role, he is responsible for managing and developing SME Media’s print and digital media products. Prior to joining SME, O’Neil was group publisher of the Life & Health Insurance Group for Summit Professional Networks. There, he successfully launched several new electronic and lead generation products. O’Neil also served as chief executive officer of CK Media LLC from 2006 through 2009. As the CEO of CK Media, he successfully built one of the leading multiplatform businesses in the enthusiast media sector. From 1998 to 2006, O’Neil was the vice president/group publisher of the Primedia Crafts Division. During his term at Primedia, O’Neil built and managed the fastest growing division within the company delivering double-digit revenue and profitability growth. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois. SME Member Since 2021 Jake VolcskoVice President, Integrated Media Jake Volcsko joined SME in August 2023 as Vice President of Integrated Media where he leads a team of talented individuals charged with creating dynamic and innovative media products that connect with users and sponsors. Jake previously served as General Manager of SEO and Digital with DealNews, Inc. Prior, Jake spent 20 years in media and has led significant digital transformation initiatives in roles ranging from Digital Media Director at a small newspaper to Chief Digital Officer at a Public Media organization. During his career, in addition to websites, mobile apps and other digital products, Jake has successfully launched several online subscription models, and a digital services agency. He launched the first local news OTT application on Roku TV in 2013, and in 2014, his was the first local media organization to launch on Amazon FireTV, including a digital linear streaming channel. He is passionate about media and finding ways to use online platforms to bring all audiences into an organization’s engagement funnel. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts/Applied Media Arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Jake has been a high school football official since 2003 and a Division III NCAA football official since 2023.