While the GaMEP has no shortage of long-standing employees, Elliot Price’s history with the GaMEP is second to none. As GaMEP’s longest-tenured employee and Augusta Region Manager, Elliot has been able to help countless Georgia manufacturers and create many significant and long-lasting relationships.
Before joining the GaMEP, Elliot worked in manufacturing plants, serving in a variety of engineering and supervisory roles. In 1984, he joined Georgia Tech, and nine months (and one newborn baby) later, Elliot moved from Douglas, GA to Augusta to take over the regional manager position with what is now the GaMEP.
Elliot has always had a strong interest in quality systems and his experience in helping past employers establish quality programs and training standards inspired him to become a certified Lead Auditor in ISO 9001 in 1987. He has worked closely with the GaMEP quality team ever since.
When asked what’s his favorite part of his role, he stated, “The best part is providing my clients with the knowledge they didn’t previously have and witnessing their excitement once they realize just how much value this new knowledge will provide them and their company.”
Most recently, Elliot introduced a new peer-to-peer learning program to his region called the VIP (Valuing Individual Performance) Action Team, focusing on workforce development and creating strategies for developing an employer of choice culture.
Elliot’s blood truly runs white and gold. As a Georgia Tech student in the 70s, he played tight end for the Yellow Jackets and played in the 1975 Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame “Rudy Game”. Outside of his love for his alma mater and current employer, he is a master gardener, and for the past several years has volunteered at a local church with a team that has harvested and donated over 550 pounds of food to the local Storehouse food pantry in Augusta.
If you are a company in the Augusta region and would like to learn more about the new VIP Action Team or other ways we can assist you (or if you just have some gardening questions), contact Elliot Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bogna Grabicka starts each day with four shots of espresso and then she’s off to the races. She’s a whirlwind of positive energy and a wealth of knowledge on environmental management systems, hazardous materials, chemical hygiene, and green chemistry, which makes her a fantastic new addition to the GaMEP sustainability team.
Bogna has always been deeply interested in environmental science and lowering human impact on the planet. Originally from Poznan, Poland, where she studied environmental engineering and environmental protection at the Poznan University of Technology, she followed her passion to the United States when she was offered the opportunity to study at Kent State University, where she completed her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry.
Throughout her career, she has worked in environmental health and safety roles. In her last position, as Hazardous Materials Manager at Georgia Tech, she managed the health and safety programs for laboratories across
campus and developed training courses on topics including Chemical Hygiene, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
As a GaMEP project manager, Bogna, will train and consult with companies to help them achieve environmental compliance and reach their sustainability goals. She adds new expertise to our team, particularly in green chemistry, which assesses a manufacturing process from start to finish and looks for ways to make it more environmentally friendly, while also reducing waste, improving employee health and safety, and decreasing costs.
When Bogna is not working, she loves spending time with her two fur babies Laylah and Saha. She rescued them both from
shelters managed by Lifeline Animal Project, where she also volunteers. As a big animal lover, she supports the organization’s mission to decrease shelter euthanasia while also serving the community through spay/neuter clinics, fostering, veteran programs, and other outreach.
Larry Alford has worked for GaMEP, as he says, “since before it was the GaMEP.” He joined Georgia Tech in 1990 as part of the Economic Development Laboratory, the predecessor of the GaMEP, after spending eleven years working as an industrial engineer at a large building materials manufacturing company.
Larry’s entire career has been spent working in manufacturing. Always good in math, he initially thought he would study accounting, but while working a summer job at a manufacturing plant he noticed that the accountant never came out of his office and knew that was not the career for him. Industrial engineering turned out to be a perfect fit for his analytical skills and his love of working with people.
Working at Georgia Tech has allowed him to work with many different companies, learning about new ideas and strategies, and seeing how their facilities operate in unique ways. This experience fuels his commitment to providing peer-to-peer learning opportunities for manufacturers. As south metro Atlanta region manager, he encourages companies in his region to work together and welcome outside perspectives to accelerate innovation.
Larry is at his core a problem solver, and noticing the recruitment challenges companies were facing in recent years, he began advocating for and helping implement apprenticeship programs across the state. These programs allow high school students to work in manufacturing facilities while still in school, offering students a chance to learn valuable skills and jumpstart a career, while providing a much needed talent pipeline for manufacturers.
Despite being the ultimate southern gentleman at work, it turns out when he’s not working, or serving in his local church, Larry’s a stylin’ & profilin’, limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ Ric Flair fan. He’s followed the Nature Boy’s career since the 1970s when he used to see him compete in local matches in Upstate South Carolina. He also loves cheering on the Braves and going to oldies concerts with his wife.
If you are interested in learning more about peer-to-peer learning groups, apprenticeships, or are a company in the south metro Atlanta region looking to connect with GaMEP, contact Larry at email@example.com.
Dean Hettenbach knows a thing or two about wearing many hats. Throughout his 25-plus years of experience, Dean has consulted on everything from operations and process improvement to logistics and supply chain across a diverse customer base of start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies, including manufacturers of all types.
Now, as a project manager, Dean gets to lend his many talents to the GaMEP Strategy and Leadership Development team, helping manufacturers develop and implement effective business and technology solutions. Recently his primary focus has been on the Center for MedTech Excellence, developing strategies to help the center get off the ground and running. Designed to combine the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), the Center for MedTech Excellence is an EDA grant-funded initiative that helps companies in the medical device-related industries accelerate their commercialization of products in order to create more jobs in Georgia.
Dean’s career has taken him all over the country and many places around the world, allowing him to positively impact dozens of manufacturers from different cultures and industries. But wherever he’s gone, there has always been a consistent theme throughout his work – manufacturing systems and supply chain.
He stated, “I’ve always been excited about manufacturing systems, and seeing how these processes and technologies have evolved over the past 25-plus years has been fascinating. Things have changed a lot over time since I started my career.”
Dean holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, engaging with his church, and participating in outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and biking.
With experience as a manager and process improvement leader in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations, Brad Wood brings a unique perspective to the GaMEP Operational Excellence team.
After graduating from Mississippi State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering, Brad worked for over fifteen years in manufacturing operations. He then took on the challenge of applying lean tools to non-manufacturing operations in positions at an automotive auction company and in a fast-paced fulfillment center. He draws on those experiences in his work with GaMEP, to help companies look for opportunities to remove waste not just in manufacturing operations, but in all aspects of their business.
When asked why he likes working in process improvement, Brad said, “In my first job out of college, I led a five-day Kaizen event in the packaging area of the plant, where many of the employees had been there for over twenty years. They were skeptical at first, but we worked together and eventually found solutions to the problems they were experiencing.
After we implemented the changes, one of the women looked at me and said, ‘thank you for taking the time to do this – you made our job so much better.’ That’s what makes this job really worth it for me still today – process improvement can make businesses better, but it can also make people’s lives better.”
While Brad is serious about process improvement, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. You may pick up on this as he sprinkles “dad jokes” into his lectures. He can also been spotted singing karaoke when the opportunity arises. He describes his singing voice as “very below average lounge singer with no training whatsoever.” His “go to” songs are classics that make people smile like, “Copa Cabana” and “Sweet Caroline.”
In addition to his lean and process improvement project work, Brad is also a Lean Six Sigma course instructor. Contact him for more information on process mapping, kaizen, lean six sigma, or other lean manufacturing tools and methodologies.
Interested in learning more about GaMEP’s Lean Six Sigma Training or other course offerings? Check out our Training page for more information.
Michael Barker describes himself as, “a lifelong nerd,” who actually enjoys reading and writing about cybersecurity and information technology. He brings more than 25 years of practical experience as a business owner, industry speaker, and university professor, making him a fantastic resource for manufacturers trying to navigate the complicated world of cybersecurity.
Michael’s career has taken some interesting twists and turns from his beginnings as a nuclear engineer to his new role as cybersecurity project manager at GaMEP at Georgia Tech, where he helps manufacturers better understand cybersecurity and improve their cyber hygiene and resiliency. From website developer to private investigator, seminary student to climbing instructor, Michael has never shied away from following his interests and taking on a new challenge.
His love of adventure served him well as a Boy Scout and Sea Scout leader for twelve years. As an assistant scoutmaster and sea scout skipper, Michael mentored and trained hundreds of young men and women, helping 50+ scouts to achieve Eagle, including his three sons. He led two treks to Philmont and earned some of adult scouting’s highest awards, including Sea Badge, Wood Badge and Powder Horn.
In his previous role as the Director of the TSYS Cybersecurity Center at Columbus State University, Michael designed and implemented a Cybersecurity and Financial Technology curriculum that included, two cyber-related bachelor’s degrees and a 12-month rapid workforce development certificate. These programs are helping to meet the enormous need for qualified cybersecurity professionals to work in various industries.
Michael holds numerous industry certifications including the CISSP and CISA and is currently pursuing a doctorate in information technology from Middle Georgia State University. He holds a master’s degree in information security management and a graduate certificate in information security analysis from the University of Fairfax. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Georgia Tech.
When not working at fighting cybercrime, Michael enjoys spending time with his grand kids or volunteering at his church and for community organizations.
Katie Hines joined the GaMEP team in late 2021 as a process improvement project manager. She loves working in operations and with people, so when she saw the opportunity to work with manufacturers across the state, helping them implement lean and process improvement projects, she knew it would be a perfect fit. Her background and skills allowed her to jump right into her new role and not miss a beat.
Originally from Alabama, Katie moved to Georgia in 2013 to work as a process engineer at Armstrong Industries in Macon, Georgia. She quickly found her niche in lean manufacturing and continuous improvement and moved into a value stream improvement champion role.
A few years later, she joined Proctor & Gamble in Albany, Georgia, where she led continuous improvement projects with the teams producing Charmin toilet tissue and Bounty paper towels. She then moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2019 and worked for Georgia Pacific as a remote machine monitor and process engineer.
Now as part of the Operational Excellence team at GaMEP, she’ll be working with manufacturers across the state on process improvement projects and will also be an instructor for the Lean Six Sigma and Lean Boot Camp classes.
When asked about her hobbies outside of work, Katie replied, “is being a mom a hobby?”
Katie played softball in college, but today her sporting events look a bit different – she spends time cheering on her five-year-old daughter who just started playing T-ball, while holding her four-month-old son. Outside of work, she also enjoys reading sci-fi and fantasy novels and staying fit (and sane) by riding her Peloton.
Katie holds an M.S. in Chemical Engineering, B.S. in Polymer and Fiber Engineering, and Graduate Certificate in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics from Auburn University.
Charity Stevens has a long history with the GaMEP. She was the first co-op student to join the Dublin, GA office in 1997, and worked alongside Alan Barfoot, former Central Georgia Region Manager.
After graduating from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering, she went on to work for Lithonia Lighting, Armstrong, and Parker Aerospace applying her process improvement, Lean Six Sigma, and Value Stream Management expertise to real world projects.
In 2016 Charity wanted a better work-life balance, so she returned to her Georgia Tech roots as a project manager in the Lean and Process Improvement Group. She is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and is also trained in DDI Leadership and MDI practices. In 2020, Charity took over for her longtime friend and colleague, and was promoted to Central Georgia Region Manager.
Charity prides herself on creating long-term relationships, and delivering quality impacts for her clients. “I enjoy helping customers understand the commitment it takes to create a continuous improvement culture and also how to sustain it,” Stevens said.
Charity’s biggest joy is her family. She has been married to her husband David for 20 years this month (happy anniversary!) and her daughter Juliette motivates every decision she makes.
Contact Charity at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how GaMEP can be a resource for your company.
According to a study by Workplace Trends, 15 percent of American workers return to a previous employer. Don Pital, GaMEP’s Associate Director of Operations, is one of those people! He briefly worked on the team from 1998-2000, but then left to help start a fiber optics cable manufacturing company. In 2002 he returned to the GaMEP and has been an integral part of the team ever since. Fun fact, Don has worked in more regional offices than any other staff member combined!
Don started as a Project Manager in the Quality group executing ISO training for manufacturing clients. In 2008 he started the Growth Services group, which is now the Strategy and Leadership Development team, and led that team until 2019, before he took on his current role as Associate Director within the organization.
Don is a self-proclaimed problem solver who has always enjoyed the roll of continuous improvement. He has secured federal grant funding in areas such as Automotive, Cybersecurity and Machine Shop assessments, and leads internal process improvement efforts, streamlining our administrative initiatives so the GaMEP team can focus on client needs and continue to serve manufacturers effectively.
He stated, “The GaMEP is an objective third party that provides solutions for our manufacturers. We are able to offer clients tools for success, thus freeing them up to run their business versus getting bogged down in the weeds.”
Don has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Ceramic Engineering from Georgia Tech, and is a Certified Business Growth Coach. In his spare time, he likes to hike, read, and spend time with his 12-year-old dachshund.
Tim Israel leads the Industry Services Team at the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI²), comprised of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program, and the Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SEETAC), and has been with Georgia Tech for thirty-two years. In fact, he started with GaMEP (EI²’s largest and longest running program), in 1989 before it became a national MEP program in 1994 (when it was called Industrial Extension Services).
Tim’s path began as a field engineer in what is now GaMEP’s Gainesville office. He went on to work as a Project Manager for our initial skill center, called the Georgia Productivity and Quality Center, and later helped expand our Center for International Standards and Quality – which provided ISO 9000 training and assistance to clients. In his first management role in 2000, he created the Lean center. In 2002, the Quality and Lean teams merged to form the Process Improvement (PI) team at GaMEP, which Tim led. He became the GaMEP Associate Director in 2012. In 2019, he took on the role of GaMEP Director and added the rest of the Industry Services programs to his portfolio at the beginning of 2021.
Tim has many strength’s, but prides himself on finding good talent and the right fit for the organization. He has directly hired nearly half the staff at GaMEP, as he has a knack for seeing their passion for manufacturing and for serving these clients.
“The GaMEP is a place where clients can go to get reliable advice and solutions without being sold something they don’t need. If we don’t have the answer, then we have the resources to help our customers find it. We are evolving as our manufacturers’ needs are evolving and are a trusted advisor and source of information for our clients,” he said.
You could say Tim is committed fully to Georgia Tech. Not only has he worked here for 32 years, but he has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, has been married to a Georgia Tech graduate for 27 years, and his son currently attends Georgia Tech. Tim is an AVID sports fan, loves to cook, and has traveled to 46 of the 50 states in the continental United States.
Derek is no newbie to the GaMEP. He’s been part of the team since 2002. In fact, he almost went to work for the Alabama MEP, but quickly realized the MEP system is made up of a center in every state, so he stayed in Georgia and came to work for the GaMEP.
Originally joining the team as a project manager, specializing in lean and process improvement, Derek spent five years in that role before being promoted to West Georgia Region Manager (RM) in 2007. In addition to his responsibilities as the West RM, he also manages the entire RM team, made up of 9 other region managers across the state.
Those two jobs all rolled into one keep him rather busy, but Derek takes pride in maintaining his customer relationships, and finding the right GaMEP solution for each client. He said, “As manufacturing companies are evolving with new technology needs, we have to evolve with them and continue to learn and make sure our resources are relevant.”
He is a Georgia Tech alumnus with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and holds an MBA from LaGrange College. Derek got his first experience with lean as a co-op in college, working for Freudenberg-NOK, one of GaMEP’s clients. Check out a success story we wrote on their Northeast Georgia plant.
In his spare time Derek likes golfing, fishing, and giving back to his community through volunteering at his church. He has been married for 25 years and has three children. Contact him at email@example.com for more information on how GaMEP can help you.
Based in the Savannah GaMEP office, Olivia joined the team in April of this year as a project manager specializing in Quality Management Systems. Olivia graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor of Science in Printing Management. She applied this specialized degree, which is unique to the manufacturing industry, to her first job at Fort Dearborn Company, and has been working in the manufacturing field ever since.
She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt who has demonstrated success in leading complex projects for operations, quality, safety, IT, and procurement across a global organization. In her previous position, she led an award-winning, global document management system integration project. She worked with other company departments to design the system, which gave plants access to over 15,000 documents. This multi-year project was implemented across twelve plant locations in four different languages, and she did this all remotely! The result kept document control consistent across the entire company.
She’s now excited to bring her 18 years of work experience in the quality industry to the GaMEP, where she will work with manufacturing clients across the state, helping them implement, audit, and improve their quality management systems.
In her spare time Olivia likes spending time at the beach, doing yoga, and traveling. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for any process improvement, quality and regulatory compliance needs.
Wendy White is our resident Food Industry expert, with a Masters in Food Microbiology and a Bachelors in Biology from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining the GaMEP two years ago, she worked for several food manufacturers and distributors focusing on food safety and quality assurance.
When Wendy joined the GaMEP team, she described it as a career turning point. “I was looking for a change and was familiar with University Extension programs. I wanted to utilize my industry experience to help others, interact with clients of all different sizes, and share my food safety knowledge.”
Wendy specializes in helping food companies achieve governmental compliance, building HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) plans, facilitating 3rd party food safety audits, and supply chain management. She holds several international leadership positions including Chairperson, International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) Affiliate Council, Georgia Association of Food Protection (GAFP) Executive Board, and serves on the Food Safety Magazine Editorial Board.
In her spare time, she enjoys judging BBQ contests with her high school sweetheart and husband. They are both certified and formally trained in sensory and food attributes!
Adam is a former GaMEP client turned team member. He is a triple threat, with a Bachelors from Clemson, Masters from Georgia Tech, and an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State. We are excited that he has joined the GaMEP as a Senior Project Manager for the Strategy and Leadership Development team.
His career started in civil engineering and he is a licensed Professional Engineer. Over time, his focus shifted to environmental consulting and remediation work and that led him to start his own consulting company. When that company sold, he stayed on to lead operations, but wanted to hone his business and leadership skills to compliment his technical expertise, so he decided to get his MBA. It was during this time he worked on a Capstone project for an ice cream manufacturing company, and won The Georgia Bowl, a “Shark Tank” type competition, for the team’s business plan and overall company strategy. He later went on to work as the Chief Operating Officer for that same manufacturing company where he helped lead plant expansions, a business acquisition, and tremendous growth with several national retailers. The business was recognized in 2019 as one of the Top 10 fastest growing companies in Georgia by the Association for Corporate Growth.
At the GaMEP, Adam helps companies understand their high-level business vision and then assists them in developing an organization-wide strategy in multi-year increments to align the company goals and ensure that everyone on the team is working towards the same objectives. He also helps businesses assess their business valuation and strategically close the gap between how much a company is worth and how much the owner wants it to be worth, in preparation for succession planning, selling of the company, or involving a financial consultant for long-term success.
In his spare time, Adam likes spending time outdoors kayaking, boating, and camping. He is an avid runner, completing several marathons, and loves a good steak.
Sandra’s career has always been centered around the environmental field. Her first manufacturing job was working at a Purina plant handling the wastewater treatment facility, where she designed the processes and operations needed to treat the industrial wastewater to help the plant fulfill its regulatory requirements and reduce the plant’s environmental footprint. This is where her love of environmental work began, and her desire to help companies to structure and implement environmental management systems, based on ISO standards, fulfill regulatory compliance and to achieve their sustainability goals.
Sandra said, “I enjoy working with companies to help them become more efficient in managing their resources/materials, increase productivity, while reducing their operational costs. At GaMEP we work as a unit. This opens the door for our clients to also work with our different service groups, and creates a pathway to the other GaMEP offerings, so that we can effectively help them achieve their business goals and remain sustainable and prosperous in the region.”
Sandra joined the GaMEP in 2013 and provides technical assistance, training and assessment services for environmental, energy, and health and safety management systems that are based on ISO 14001, 50001, and 45001, as well as environmental regulatory compliance assessments for industries. She has also been recognized twice by GaMEP as The Outstanding Project Manager of the year with the highest Sponsored Client Revenue.
Sandra earned her Masters from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from America University in Bogotá, Colombia. She is bilingual with excellent communication skills in both English and Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, dancing, and her favorite food is everything her husband cooks.
Welcome to the GaMEP! Sean is one of our newest team members, starting in December of 2020 as a project manager on the Strategy and Leadership Development team, leading our Industry 4.0 efforts. He has 17 years of process engineering and advanced manufacturing experience with a passion for technology and Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). He has both a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj and Louisiana Tech Universities (respectively), as well being Six Sigma Green Belt Certified.
Sean’s favorite quote is, “In God we trust, all others must bring data.” – Dr. W. Edwards Deming.
This is a cornerstone of his thinking that has helped him to create a proven track record of utilizing data, communication, and organization skills to influence team members in delivering key business objectives through alignment of self-actualization and leveraging next generation technology.
One of Sean’s first automation projects, that he led on a vision grading system, ignited his passion for technology. As this grew, so did his desire to reduce a common fear amongst company employees – that technology is going to replace jobs in the plant. He works with team members to showcase that machines are accurate, with the right software, but people are still needed to manage the process, analyze the data output, and take action on what to do with that data. Sean’s experience in reliability and maintenance, continuous improvement, process control, and manufacturing execution systems have allowed him to hone his technology skills and led him down the path to his Industry 4.0 specialty.
In his spare time Sean likes spending time with his wife and kids, experimenting with the latest technology gadgets, and eating Mexican food.
Need some help identifying or implementing technology solutions that will lead to productivity gains for your company and help you make the quantum leap by leveraging data and technology? Contact Sean at sean.madhavaraman@ gatech.edu for any questions related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0, automation, cybersecurity, and other technology needs.