Board of Directors
The ALMMII Board of Directors consists of experts with decades of experience in manufacturing in government, industry and academic organizations. The ALMMII Board provides oversight and guidance on the direction of the institute to drive American manufacturing into the future.
Advisor, Australian Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board
Senior Advisor, Covington & Burlington LLP
Karen M. Belans
Chief Financial Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber
President & CEO - EWI
CEO and Executive Director - LIFT
Dr. Ayanna Howard
Dean for the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University
Director of Business Development at Comau LLC
Chief of Staff, College of Engineering, University of Michigan
Dr. William Laplante
CEO, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
Associate Vice President - Innovation & Economic Development at George Mason University
Becky is a native of Virginia and is currently a resident of Smithfield, VA. She was appointed as ALMMII’s Chair of the Board of Directors in July 2017. She is currently working for the Australian Department of Defense and Royal Australian Navy on the Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board. Becky received her undergraduate business degree from Christopher Newport University and her MBA from the Executive Program at the College of William & Mary. She joined Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding in 1982 and completed her 33-year career with the shipyard in early 2015. While at Newport News Shipbuilding, she served in various positions including Vice President of Submarine Programs and Vice President of Manufacturing. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) in Virginia.
Dr. Zachary Mears helps companies in the aerospace, defense, and national security sector navigate policy and regulatory challenges involving the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch. A non-lawyer, Dr. Mears has extensive experience in U.S. national security and defense strategy, planning, and resourcing, most recently serving as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. His substantive areas of expertise include strategic planning, risk assessment and management, and advanced technologies.
While serving in the U.S. Department of Defense, Dr. Mears advised the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on national priorities and managed their implementation. He also served as the director of the Advanced Capability and Deterrence Panel and led the development of the Third Offset Strategy, which aims to identify new organizational and operational concepts and new capabilities to improve the United States’ military advantage. Dr. Mears also advised the Defense Innovation Unit–Experimental, which is building bridges between the Pentagon and the high technology centers in Silicon Valley, Boston, and Austin.
Prior to these appointments, Dr. Mears served as the director for strategic planning for the National Security Council, where he co-authored the 2015 National Security Strategy. He also worked as a senior defense analyst for Scitor Corporation and as a senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.
NEWS AND INSIGHTS
“Industry Takeaways From The Defense Industrial Base Report,” October 15, 2018, Law360
“CFIUS Update: Treasury Department Issues Interim Rules, Expands Jurisdiction to Certain Non-Controlling Investments, and Establishes Mandatory Filing Requirements,” October 11, 2018, Covington Alert
“Who’s in Your Supply Chain? Contractors Face Increasing Compliance Obligations and Restrictions,” August 30, 2018, Covington Alert
“CFIUS Update: FIRRMA Enacted into Law,” August 13, 2018, Covington Alert
“CFIUS Update: FIRRMA Finalized, Nears Passage,” July 25, 2018, Covington Alert
“Update on CFIUS and Foreign Investment Regulation President Affirms Support for FIRRMA and CFIUS,” June 27, 2018, Covington Alert
“CFIUS Developments House and Senate Committees Hold Markup of CFIUS,” May 23, 2018, Covington Alert
“CFIUS Developments: Senate Banking Committee Releases Draft Manager’s Amendment to FIRRMA,” May 16, 2018, Covington Alert
Former Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Defense Joins Covington,” October 5, 2016
Regulatory and Public Policy
Aerospace, Defense, and National Security
The Ohio State University, M.A./Ph.D., 2009
University of Tennessee, B.A., 2000
summa cum laude
S. Department of Defense
Covington & Burling LLP
850 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-4956
+1 202 662 5414
Karen M. Belans, CPA, is the chief financial officer (CFO) at the Detroit Regional Chamber and oversees all aspects of financial management, budgeting, auditing and tax planning strategies for the four entities under the Chamber. Belans also manages risk management, information technology and building operations as well as extensive grant management and reporting. She also participates in the planning and direction of strategic initiatives at the Chamber which currently include Forward Detroit, a new economic development fundraising strategy, as well as analysis and implementation of new business systems and the planning and management of office moves to consolidate and reduce office space.
Belans joined the Chamber in 1995 and was named CFO less than a year later. Over her tenure, she has reversed negative fund balances and maxed out debt lines, completed the implementation of two new general ledger systems, budgeting and several membership management databases. In more than 21 years of service, there have been all unqualified opinions of the financial statements and positive management of unrestricted net assets that has resulted in the need for investment policies. Investments were started and have grown under Belans leadership to more than $7 million.
Her other accomplishments include: developing and managing the Chamber’s first-ever investment policy and funds, eliminating unprofitable business lines, negotiation and purchase of company assets and employees in California, sale of Chamber headquarters building and relocation, establishing the Chamber’s 401(k) plan and first-ever employee bonus plan, overseeing the management of a tax structure, and several negotiations of headquarters leases.
Before joining the Chamber, Belans worked at the accounting firm, Ernst and Young, for nearly eight years, specializing in the nonprofit, hospital and manufacturing sectors. She is a graduate of Leadership Detroit, the Center for Creative Leadership and the Institute for Organization Management. Belans is an Executive Committee member of Crime Stoppers of Michigan. She graduated with honors from University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1988 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and finance.
Dr. Henry Cialone is President and CEO of EWI, an advanced engineering service provider dedicated to identifying, developing, and implementing innovative technology solutions that enhance manufacturing competitiveness. He has a record of creating new business opportunities through technological innovation and building broad coalitions to develop them.
BACKGROUND AND PROJECT EXPERIENCE
Since joining EWI in 2005, Henry has enhanced the company’s resources and capabilities to shape the future of manufacturing by establishing new laboratories in Buffalo, NY, and Loveland, CO; expanded the company’s portfolio of manufacturing technologies; created public-private partnerships such as the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (dba LIFT); and increased technology commercialization activities to deliver broader market benefits. During his tenure, EWI has created a variety of spinout companies based on technologies it invented: EWI UltraThinSeal™ reduces packaging film costs with an innovative sealing technology; Acoustech Systems (acquired by Cumberland Resources in 2017) increases machining productivity by combining high-power ultrasound with conventional machining operations; Fabrisonic produces complex metal parts using ultrasonic additive manufacturing (3D metal printing); RealWeld Systems (acquired by Lincoln Electric in 2015) addresses a critical workforce need by helping trainers accelerate the development and certification of welders.
Prior to EWI, Henry was an executive at Battelle where he developed and managed the commercial energy technology portfolio. He led Battelle’s commercial energy business and served on the governing board of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Henry has served on numerous boards and advisory bodies. He has completed executive management programs at Fuqua and Wharton.
S. Materials Engineering, Brown University
S. Materials Science, Brown University
D. Materials Science, Brown University
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND BOARDS
ALMMII (dba LIFT)
Ohio State University College of Engineering Advisory Council
Nigel Francis is the CEO and Executive Director at Detroit-based LIFT, one of the founding Manufacturing USA institutes.
Prior to joining LIFT, Nigel served as Vice President and Officer, Advanced Engineering & Technology Development at American Axle (NYSE:AXL), after working as Senior Automotive Adviser to the State of Michigan and Senior Vice President, Automotive Industry Office, Michigan Economic Development Corporation where he was charged with developing, implementing and executing a comprehensive strategic plan and road map to promote, retain and grow the automotive industry in Michigan.
Francis has over 35 years of experience in the global automotive sector having held executive level positions at OEM and Tier 1 companies in North America and Europe, including Tata Technologies, Executive Vice President, Bright Automotive; and Vice President, Vehicle Engineering at Mercedes-Benz Technology. He has spent the majority of his career in advanced design and engineering product development and in recent years has been closely involved with clean technology through hybrid and electric vehicle development and vehicle light-weighting initiatives.
Francis holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree with honors from Brunel University in London, England. Professional affiliations include fellow, Institute of Mechanical Engineers of Great Britain; chartered engineer, Great Britain; Member SAE and Member SME. He sits on the advisory boards of several technology companies and universities.
Dr. Ayanna Howard is the incoming Dean for the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. Previously, she was the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Professor in Bioengineering and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also held a faculty appointment in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the partnership on AI and Autodesk.
Prior to Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she held the title of Senior Robotics Researcher and Deputy Manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Her research encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, and has resulted in over 250 peer-reviewed publications. At NASA, she worked on designing advanced technologies for future Mars rover missions. Now, she works on projects ranging from healthcare robots to developing methods to mitigate bias and trust in AI. In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, an education technology startup, which designs AI-powered STEM tools and learning games for early childhood education. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Chair of the Robotics Ph.D. program, and the Associate Chair for Faculty Development in ECE at Georgia Tech.
To date, Dr. Howard’s unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of awards and articles, including highlights in Vanity Fair, USA Today, Upscale, Black Enterprise, and TIME Magazine, as well as being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes. She regularly advises on issues concerning robotics, AI, and workforce development, including functioning as an appointed member of the Georgia State Workforce Development Board and an AI advisor on the YouTube Future of AI documentary series produced by Robert Downey Jr.
Dr. Howard is a frequent speaker and expert source for venues such as CNN and NPR. She regularly gives invited seminars at venues such as the Smithsonian Design Museum, Science Museum of London, Detroit Science Museum, and the National Security Agency. Her research leadership has also been externally recognized through her role as a U.S. Embassy Speaker Specialist and her Congressional Testimony on Innovation, just to name a few.
Martin Kinsella, Director of Business Development at Comau LLC, has over 30 years of experience in the automation industry. With a proven track record in all aspects of engineering and management, his responsibilities have included R&D, simultaneous engineering and virtual factory simulation through to system commissioning and program launch.
Martin began his career in engineering in 1981 at Vauxhall Motors, after which he moved on to more technical automation and robotic engineering positions at various companies. Martin worked in installation, commission, and programming of body welding assembly systems in the main OEMs. He leveraged his skills into a position with Estil/Pico – which would eventually become Comau – where he continued to grow, leading successful launches of multiple body shops. He was responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s self- pierce riveting technology. Martin’s career trajectory led him into a position as Engineering Manager in the UK before making his way to Comau LLC in the U.S.
In 2012, he became Comau’s Director of Materials and Technology and relocated to Michigan, establishing Comau’s Global Centers of Excellence. In his role, Martin ensured Comau’s longstanding leadership in the application of advanced research and innovation to improve manufacturing processes within mission-critical industries throughout the world.
In 2018, he became Comau’s Director of Business Development. In his current position, Martin is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships on the company’s behalf in an effort to strategically develop new business opportunities and relationships for the company.
Martin leads Comau’s partnership with Manufacturing USA’s The LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow) Institute. Manufacturing USA is a national network of research institutions and industrial companies geared toward advancing America’s leadership in manufacturing technology. Martin is a LIFT Executive Board Member, LIFT Technology Board Member, LIFT Chair of the Workforce Development Committee, and was a member of the UK Trade Investment Advisory Board. Additionally, he actively supports STEM education through his participation on the FIRST Robotics Michigan Committee and World Committee.
As an avid supporter of veterans, Martin helped create Operation Next, an initiative launched by The LIFT Institute. Operation Next is a new model for equipping separating military personnel with the skills needed for the most in-demand advanced manufacturing civilian careers in the country. Through his involvement with Operation Next, Martin has worked directly with the U.S. Department of Defense and lobbied on behalf of the organization.
In 2014, Automotive News recognized Martin’s outstanding work in the automotive industry by naming him Automotive News 2014 Manufacturing All Star.
Educated in both England and Ireland, Martin has lived and worked in the United States since 2012. He resides in Bloomfield, Michigan with his wife and two adult sons.
Jon Kinsey serves as the Chief of Staff at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering (CoE). In this role Jon advises the Dean and other CoE senior leaders on matters related to the College’s long-range plans, collaborates with other units on campus to advance the mission of the CoE. In addition, Jon participates in the development of resource generation and strategies related to operations and day-to-day management.
Prior to serving in this capacity at the CoE, Jon served as the Assistant Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan’s office of Research. In this role, Jon worked with faculty and staff across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses to strengthen the research enterprise by creating innovative collaborations and fostering new funding models with industry, government and academia.
Jon was the staff leader for ideation, approval, and formation of the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII – now known as LIFT). He collaborated with faculty leadership, partner institutions, state entities, city officials and the federal government to incorporate and develop the governance model for LIFT. He worked to secure bridge funding from the University of Michigan and facilitated the federal contracting. Jon served in a similar role for the creation of The American Center for Mobility (ACM) and served as a founding board member.
Jon has served with the university since 2007, working in the College of Engineering first as director of government relations and then as senior director, research relations. He served on the Ann Arbor Summer Festival Board of Directors and the Board of Directors at the American Center for Mobility. Before joining U-M, Kinsey worked as an international business strategy manager in retail, served as a consulting manager in a start-up management consulting firm and also worked for eight years in automotive engineering at Lear Corporation. He received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the
University of Michigan in 1993 and earned his M.B.A from the Ross School of Business in 2000.
Dr. William A. LaPlante is Senior Vice President and General Manager for MITRE National Security Sector (MNS). MNS includes two of MITRE’s federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs)— the National Security Engineering Center (NSEC) and the National Cybersecurity FFRDC. In this role, Dr. LaPlante is accountable for increasing MITRE’s strategic value across the company’s U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), intelligence, and cybersecurity portfolios.
He previously served as vice president of the Intelligence Portfolio in the NSEC. In this role, Dr. LaPlante led key initiatives in support of the nation’s intelligence community.
Dr. LaPlante has more than 30 years of experience in defense technology, most recently as assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. During his three years in that position, Dr. LaPlante led the $43 billion Air Force acquisition enterprise budget, bringing it into alignment with the greater Air Force vision and strategy.
Under his leadership, the Air Force reaped nearly $6 billion in “should-cost” savings – the investment of these savings resulted in greater capability for our nation’s warfighters. In recognition of his outstanding performance, the Air Force Association awarded Dr. LaPlante the W. Stuart Symington Award for the most significant contribution by a civilian in the field of national defense. In November 2015, the Air Force bestowed on him its Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest honor it bestows on a civilian employee. And in 2016, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program presented him with the General James Doolittle Award, in recognition of his contributions to U.S. air power.
Prior to entering public service in 2013, he was MITRE’s Missile Defense portfolio director. During this time, Dr. LaPlante was appointed to the Defense Science Board (DSB), where he co-chaired a study on enhancing the adaptability of U.S. military forces. He has resumed his participation in the DSB, where he advises top Department of Defense leadership on critical scientific and technological topics related to the effectiveness of the nation’s military forces.
Before joining MITRE, he was the department head for Global Engagement at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). In that role, he was responsible for all of APL’s work supporting offensive military capabilities. He was also a member of the APL Executive Council.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in applied physics from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Catholic University of America.
Paula Sorrell is the Associate Vice President - Innovation & Economic Development at George Mason University. Prior to George Mason, she served as V.P. of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Venture Capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corp, overseeing $1B under management to support Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including university research and tech transfer, technology service providers, tech incubators, seed funding programs, portfolio investments and fund of funds. With a focus on leveraging private funding into early tech development, expanded private and federal investment leverage from 6:1 to 35:1 and expanded the pipeline of new tech companies three-fold. Primary focus was building companies built on strong science from university research, including creating state initiatives for First Customer program, Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program, and Technology Commercialization Assistance program for early stage companies.
Prior to MEDC, she has held senior management roles at seven early technology companies. All start-ups resulted in successful sale of the company, or are still a going concern; four were university tech transfer spin-outs. Paula was a part-time lecturer at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering in the Center for Entrepreneurship on topics of tech-to-market strategies. Past consulting work includes technology business evaluator of investment portfolio companies and investment funds. She helped start the 14 year-old Michigan SBDC Tech Team, an organization that helps early stage tech companies raise on average $60MM per year. She currently sits on the boards of the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Institute, the Ann Arbor Local Development Finance Authority (treasurer), the and Michigan Translational Research Advanced Transportation. She holds a bachelor degree in marketing and an MBA from Central Michigan University.