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.

Open Bio

Board Chair

Becky Stewart

Advisor, Australian Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board

[Read Bio]

Open Bio

Vice Chair

Zach Mears

Senior Advisor, Covington & Burlington LLP

[Read Bio]

Open Bio


Nate Ames

Executive Director, Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, The Ohio State University

[Read Bio]

Open Bio


Karen M. Belans

Chief Financial Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber

[Read Bio]

Open Bio


Nigel Francis

CEO and Executive Director - LIFT

[Read Bio]

Open Bio


Martin Kinsella

Director of Business Development at Arrow Automation

[Read Bio]

Open Bio


Jon Kinsey

Chief of Staff, College of Engineering, University of Michigan

[Read Bio]


Nick Montgomery

Vice President, Human Resources at EWI

Open Bio


Paula Sorrell

Associate Vice President - Innovation & Economic Development at George Mason University

[Read Bio]


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.

“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

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
Government Service

S. Department of Defense
White House
Covington & Burling LLP
One CityCenter
850 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-4956
+1 202 662 5414

Nate Ames is the Executive Director for The Ohio State University's Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME). CDME leverages industry-funded projects and federal grants to provide undergraduate students with hands-on experience integrating new technology into market-ready applications, enabling Ohio State's customers with both the technology and workforce advantages necessary to compete in a global marketplace. This coupled experiential education and technology translation occurs in one of CDME's pilot-scale HIPAA and ITAR compliant manufacturing facilities located on Ohio State's Innovation District. He also holds Adjunct Assistant and Associate Professor positions in the Department of Design and the Department of Material Science and Engineering, respectively.

Ames joined Ohio State in December 2014 after spending two decades in various energy industry positions. He began his professional career at Swagelok Company, where he worked as Research Engineer in the Advanced Technology and Material Science Department. While at Swagelok, Ames and a team of engineers developed and deployed a new welding technology that led to a selection of his multiple patents. After five years with Swagelok, Ames accepted a Graduate Fellowship at Edison Welding Institute. He spent the next 11 years in various leadership roles related to energy production, including the Department of Energy's Nuclear Fabrication Consortium Director. Ames has also founded/co-founded four companies in the energy and chemical space ranging from a chemical processing equipment OEM, oil and energy equipment refurbishment, mobile app development, and an oil & gas EPCI company.

Ames' accomplishments in the energy market serve as career highlights. He was selected to be the New Technology Chairman for DOE-NE's committee on the Future of Nuclear Energy. He was also a board member for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation for four years and was voted as 2008's Best Young Engineering in the Oil and Gas Industry by Deep Offshore Technology International. Ames was the Technical Programs Chair for the International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers for three years and has delivered over 50 energy-related publications. Throughout his career, he has worked in a professional capacity in over 20 countries. Ames strives to use his global industry and entrepreneurial experience to positively contribute to the future workforce and the technologies they will be responsible for deploying.

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.

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.

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.

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.