Once Georgia Tech gets in some folks’ blood, it doesn’t leave, and Damon Nix is no exception. He worked at Georgia Tech, first in the Research Institute, before moving to the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) in 2013 as a senior project manager. In 2020, he moved cross-country, where he served as director of business development for Impact Washington, the MEP center in Washington State.
But home beckoned the Georgia native and this past summer, he and his family moved back to the Peach State, where Damon rejoined the GaMEP team as the manager of new program development, a newly created position to help support GaMEP’s growth.
“I’ve been brought on primarily to help build structure around our grant programs,” he said. “I’m helping to develop a system for the lifecycle of grants, from strategic valuation to implementation and ultimately sustaining those programs.”
Damon never stops learning and seeking out opportunities for growth. At the beginning of his GaMEP career, he worked with a South Georgia manufacturer that was based out of Germany. He had the opportunity to visit that plant, which lit a travel bug in him.
“Getting to meet people across the globe who worked together to solve problems was a ton of fun and very important,” he said.
The desire to travel has taken him and his family to other parts of the world, as well as state and national parks around the U.S. Then his want to provide positive impact brought him right back to GaMEP.
“I’m excited to be back and to be reconnecting with folks at George Tech, who were a key component of my community before,” Damon said.
He credits his brother for his interest in Georgia Tech and engineering. “I wouldn’t be here without my older brother. He really cleared the path for me. When I was a high school student, he brought me to Georgia Tech to spend time with him on campus and got me interested in engineering, which was not really something I’d been thinking about before.”
He went on to get an industrial engineering degree from Georgia Tech, before switching gears and pursuing a master’s in divinity from Mercer.
“I wanted to do good, to find a way to make an impact. The vision of what that means for me has changed quite a bit,” he said. “I went from thinking I had to be a preacher to now understanding the great impact that we make right here at GaMEP.”
“I think a lot of our work is helping create a better quality of life for people across the state,” he said. “We’re doing it often in places where other consultants wouldn’t go. For me, there’s a real missional spirit about it. We have a tremendous capability to do good.”
Connect with Damon at email@example.com.
Integrity, trustworthiness, and optimism are all attributes that describe one of our newest team members. Alfred Gardner joined the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech in early March 2023, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience working in various human resources (HR) roles. This coupled with his knowledge of manufacturing operations, corporate environments, and international human resources, Alfred felt a HR Consultant role with GaMEP was the best fit for him.
His passion for human resources, strategy, and leadership development began during his studies at Troy University – “I knew I wanted to enter in the field of human resources when I took a personnel management course while studying for my B.S. in Business Management,” said Gardner. He later went on to pursue his career calling by getting his M.S in Human Resource Development from Villanova University.
Gardner had many great leaders who inspired his work in HR. One person stands out to him, an executive he worked with in a previous role at a material handling company This person was a true servant leader; he created a culture in which all individuals were made to feel valued regardless of their role in the organization. At the time, most companies had separate parking lots for hourly and salaried employees, and executives had dedicated parking spaces. Gardner said, “He didn’t think that was appropriate, so there was only one parking lot, open to everyone”. This made an impression on Gardner and helped shape his views on how important it is to make all employees feel seen and heard.
Gardner’s favorite quote is by Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel”.What attracted him the most to HR was the thought of being able to help people realize their full potential. He is currently offering HR services for manufacturers that focus on human resource optimization – “getting the right people, with the right knowledge, skills, and capability, at the right time”. As part of a holistic approach to HR, he will help Georgia manufacturers implement tools and strategies to improve their employee engagement and retention, performance management, culture change, succession planning, and human resources policy development.
Like many of the other members GaMEP, Alfred starts his day with a morning ritual, “I like to start my day with coffee. I listen to the ‘Steve Harvey Morning Show’ on the radio while getting dressed, and if time permits, listen to the first 30 minutes of the ‘Morning Joe’”. This morning routine gets him in the mind set to tackle his rather busy schedule of meetings and research. When he is not working, he enjoys riding his bike, watching sports (especially football and basketball), and golfing.
Questions about our HR services? Connect with Alfred at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perseverance is the word Kelly Grissom uses to describe his approach to life. It started when he was a teenager. “My mom got me a poster of Cal Ripken Jr. It just had one word across it — perseverance,” Kelly said. Ripkin is a baseball player who holds the record for most consecutive games played. “That has definitely been a theme for me, to stick with it and keep going. And it’s worked out.”
Kelly persevered along a non-traditional path through college and to his position as energy and sustainability project manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech and assistant director of the Georgia – North Florida Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), which provides no-cost energy assessments to manufacturing companies in Georgia.
He started at Georgia Tech right out of high school, but after a few quarters, decided it wasn’t the right fit. He worked in construction with a gutter company for more than a decade, before continuing his education.
“I had to essentially reestablish myself,” he said. He went to Georgia Perimeter (now part of Georgia State University) and got associate degrees in general studies and engineering. Then he came full circle, wrapping up his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in 2017 and completing a master’s degree in economics in 2022 at Georgia Tech. It’s been home ever since.
“I started with MEP while I was an undergrad,” he said, about his work as a co-op student. “I worked with the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program. That’s where students go on energy assessments to companies around Georgia. It’s funded by Department of Energy grants. When I was graduating, the person that was doing the role that I do now was getting ready to leave. I was able to stay on after graduation. I went full time with the MEP in January of 2018. My primary role is running the IAC program. So, I now take care of students on those energy assessments.”
The program is a partnership with Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. In his role, Kelly recruits and trains students to help do the audits. It provides students with hands-on experience doing something important for Georgia companies.
For Kelly, those assessments, where he visits companies with students and another faculty member or two, are the best part of his job.
“It’s almost like a field trip,” he said. “We had one recently, and in our post tour meeting, we started to think about the kinds of recommendations we could make,” he said. That sparked a discussion among the students about heat recovery, after the team found heat emanating from a piece of equipment at the facility.
“They were wondering about how could we use that heat, instead of just putting it out in the facility? They started getting into chemical reactions, and they got into basically an academic discussion,” Kelly said. “It was awesome to watch that. The facility personnel in this meeting were taking notes on their ideas. That’s the best day.”
While not related to the astronaut Gus Grissom, Kelly Grissom said he’s always been fascinated by the astronaut, aerospace, and space. He even credits Gus with his initial interest in Georgia Tech.
“When I first was going into college, I was actually thinking about aerospace,” Kelly said. “A professor at Georgia Perimeter talked me into mechanical, which is where I settled, but I’ve always had the interest because of Gus Grissom. I have always had a love of the stars.” On clear, starry nights he can be found outside gazing at the sky through his telescope.
Kelly may have his eyes on the sky, but he also keeps his feet on the ground running half marathons. “I’ve run in the Publix half marathon every year since 2015, which runs through campus.” He and his wife (also named Kelly, she’s known as Lady Kelly in the family) go to the gym together. And when they’re home, they tend to their family of cats. “We have a mom and a dad and their babies, which are not babies anymore. Most of the pictures on my phone are cats.”
Questions about our Energy and Sustainability services, including energy assessments? Contact Kelly at email@example.comK.
Cassia Baker, GaMEP’s newest cybersecurity expert, comes to us with a background that is as multifaceted as the diamonds she used to handle when she managed client accounts at a fine arts auction house in Chicago, IL. At this point, you might ask – how does one transition from working within the fine arts industry to navigating the complex field of cybersecurity?
“I had taken a computer programming course in college and had a general understanding of technology. However, it was during my time at the auction house when I became involved in the development and rollout of our proprietary software that my interest in cybersecurity grew. Being a part of that process and seeing everything evolve from a business standpoint sparked a desire to learn more,” she said.
Cassia loves a good challenge and projects that she can really sink her teeth into. In May of 2020, she found her next big project after accepting an offer to work for the Georgia Department of Economic Development as project manager for the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) Grant Initiatives at the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace. In this role, Cassia was able to deepen her knowledge of cyber hygiene best practices and help manufacturers and aerospace companies get ready for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), a standard that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) uses to ensure that DoD contractors implement cybersecurity measures to safeguard controlled unclassified information.
In January of 2023, Cassia joined the GaMEP Strategy, Leadership Development, and Technology group as a cybersecurity project manager and has been full steam ahead ever since, helping companies all over the state improve their cyber hygiene and educating them on CMMC requirements.
Curiosity is just one of Cassia’s many strengths and one that she’s been putting to good use lately. “I was not aware of how diverse manufacturers in Georgia are. The products these businesses make are so specific, and their histories are so fascinating. I’m endlessly enjoying learning about them all,” she said.
Cassia holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and art history from Lake Forest College. She also studied fine arts, theatre, politics, and Italian through other art programs in London and Florence. Currently, she serves as the Sponsorship Chair for the Technology Association of Georgia, is involved with the Creative Arts Pathway Leadership Team at her alma mater, and on occasion displays her public speaking skills at Alumni events. We’re truly starting to wonder if there’s anything Cassia can’t do!
When she’s not working with manufacturers or seeking other professional development opportunities, Cassia enjoys many different hobbies, including running, hiking, writing, creating art, visiting museums and art galleries, and spending time with her family and godchildren.
Questions about our Cybersecurity and CMMC services? Contact Cassia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m too competitive to let anyone tell me I can’t do something! That’s been the mindset of our East Metro Region Manager, Kelley Hundt since she was one of two women in her electrical engineering cohort at Georgia Tech 30 years ago. She said, “at the time, engineering was a male-dominated major but today there is a huge amount of diversity not only within engineering but also within the different engineering disciplines.”
Kelley was raised in Merritt Island, Florida, a unique community that was established to meet the needs of the space coast and the families that worked for NASA, so it attracted many of the brightest minds from across the country. By growing up here Kelley was around engineering for much of her childhood. Her dad, brother, and sister-in-law worked at Kennedy Space Center and many of her teachers had connections to NASA and the space program. One of those teachers saw the potential in Kelley and invited her over for dinner to speak with her stepson and friends, who were in town on break during their senior year at Georgia Tech. This conversation influenced her decision to apply for and later attend Tech.
During her sophomore year, Kelley became a student assistant to what was the “pre-cursor” of the GaMEP program, working within an area for three years that would eventually become GaMEP’s energy and sustainability group. She said, “I loved my time there and learned a lot. I was considering staying on, getting my master’s, and becoming a graduate research assistant, but at the time I was ready to get out in the field.”
Upon graduation, Kelley worked for a large food manufacturing plant in Tennessee, where she and her team took a 25-year-old plant that was considered highly automated for the early 1970s and changed the entire operations from mechanical to electronic control systems, upgrading to the newest standards in the early 1990s. She then moved around the U.S. a few times working for the same company, but in different plants and then in their corporate office, before she settled in Ohio taking a job at another manufacturing plant, where she was able to lead the company’s implementation of a new ERP system. She then took her skills (and her Master’s in Business Administration degree) back to Georgia, where she helped a large corporation implement an ERP system over five of its plants.
Taking all of the experience that she’d gained over the past decade, Kelley went back to her roots and applied for a job at Georgia Tech, where she worked with small companies helping them get their software ready for the changeover to the year 2000. At that point, the GaMEP was a largely funded program, so once the calendar rolled over and the transition to the new millennium had occurred, she joined the Lean and Process Improvement team at GaMEP and has been an integral part of the program ever since – working both as a project manager in the Lean group to now the region manager of East Metro, a position she’s held for the past seven years.
She said, “I am invested in Georgia Tech and our program. I really enjoy keeping up with the manufacturers in my region and the relationships I’ve formed. It’s important to me to help guide them in the right direction and then share in their successes.”
When she’s not in manufacturing plants around her region, she can be found playing tennis or staying active in the Boy Scouts of America program, where she and her husband have volunteered for many years, as her kids have transitioned from Boy Scouts all the way to Eagle Scouts.
Making strategic decisions is something that our new project manager with the Energy and Sustainability group, Katerina Dimovski, is no stranger to. Whether it’s hanging up fencing, a sport she trained for since she was a kid, in favor of her studies in electrical engineering, or moving her family to a country she’s never visited to take a chance on a new job, she continues to press forward and embrace change.
Growing up in the city center of Skopje, Macedonia, a small country in southeastern Europe, Katerina fluently speaks three languages, Macedonian, English and Italian, and can understand multiple others.
She was always interested in science and robotics and quickly gravitated toward a career in computer system engineering and process automation. She went on to college, where she made her first major decision, to focus solely on her studies versus splitting her time between a sport she had been dedicated to and a future in engineering. She said, “I had just won a fencing tournament and instead of staying for the medal ceremony, I ran out the door with my fencing equipment still on and raced into an exam.” She continued, “It was then I realized I couldn’t give my best to both simultaneously.”
After making that decision, she dedicated herself to studying what she found a passion for in “giving life to machines”. Once making the commitment, Katerina promptly completed her studies and then continued her education in mechanical engineering, graduating with a Master of Science in production engineering.
Upon graduation, she took a job in a steel manufacturing company as an energy manager, where she implemented and maintained an Energy Management system (EnMS) certified by ISO 50001. Some of the benefit the company experienced from her work on the EnMS implementation was increased sustainability, improved production, and resilience to the energy price fluctuations while lowering their environmental impact. Her success was recognized by receiving her company’s Energy Management Leadership Award.
After nine years, Katerina was looking for her next challenge. She was sent the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech energy and sustainability project manager position and knew that her expertise lined up perfectly with the job. At her interview, she felt synergy with the team regarding their mutual passion for energy, environmental, and industrial support.
Katerina was offered the job and with her lifelong unconditional supporters -her mother and husband packed up their family and moved across the world for a new opportunity. She said, “We wanted to experience new things and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Although she’s only been at GaMEP and within the United States for less than six months, she has been able to stay active with her family and gain exposure to all different types of manufacturing through her plant visits and audits.
Questions about our Energy and Sustainability services? Contact Katerina at email@example.com.
Andy Helm isn’t afraid of a challenge or pushing the status quo. In fact, he often welcomes it, knowing that doing so will likely lead to personal growth and self-improvement. Much of Andy’s success as a senior project manager for the GaMEP Strategy and Leadership Development team stems from his can-do attitude and positive mindset, along with his experience as an entrepreneur, which provides him with a unique ability to adapt and be flexible to the needs of different manufacturing companies.
Before joining GaMEP as a project manager in 2006, Andy spent close to 15 years as an electrical engineering manager, where he was responsible for research and development design and working with manufacturing groups to help bring their products to market. Even still to this day, while visiting different plants, he occasionally comes across equipment he helped develop and patent.
Andy has always been deeply interested in leadership and found out early on in his career that he had a talent for delivering this skill to others. He has since helped the GaMEP roll out leadership development services over the past four years, including our new Executive Coaching and Teambuilding services, which are designed to help individuals tap into their strengths to become better leaders and improve company culture and employee engagement.
“Many people go to school to receive an education on a certain specialty or trade but rarely receive any leadership training. While many generic leadership training programs exist, few are tailored to manufacturers. That is what we bring to the table. By providing practical knowledge, tools, and training in a manufacturing environment, we help this skill become tangible for our clients,” he said.
Andy holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. Outside of work, he enjoys leading an active lifestyle and is an avid backpacker, where he is required to be entirely self-sufficient and carry all his gear during overnight trips. Considering how much Andy loves a good challenge, a hobby like this doesn’t surprise us in the least.
Questions about our Strategy and Leadership Development services? Contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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.