The LIFT Team is a dedicated group of individuals working in the institute every day to move the needle on our technology and talent development programs. From engineering and program management to human resources and finance, our team of experts is driving LIFT and our ecosystem into the future.

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Nigel Francis

CEO & Executive Director

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Victor Claudio

Chief Financial Officer

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Noel Mack

Chief Technology Officer

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Sean Conway

Chief Development Officer

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Joe Steele

Vice President, Communication and Legislative Affairs

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Philip Chizek

Vice President of Department of Defense Sales

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Kevin T. Kerrigan

Vice President of Business Development

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Pete Czech

Senior Director, Program Management

Marianne Donoghue

Senior Director, Talent Programs

Nancy Cummins

Senior Director, Corporate Controller

Christine Longroy

Senior Director, Ecosystem

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Hadrian Rori

Senior Technical Advisor

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Alan Taub

Senior Technical Advisor

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Sherri Diehl

Program Controller

John Keogh, Ph.D.

Director, Engineering

Amberlee Haselhuhn, Ph.D.

Director, Materials & ICME

David Hicks, Ph.D.

Principal Engineer, Modeling & Simulation

Anthony Koumpias, Ph.D.

Senior Engineer, Modeling & Simulation

Steven Grzesiak

Senior Manufacturing Engineer

Benjamin Molnar

Engineer, Advanced Manufacturing

Addie Stone-Richards

Director of Member Engagement

Beth Cryderman Moss

Director, Contracts

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Juan Aguayo-Leal

Director, LIFT Puerto Rico

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Bradley Friend

Senior Program Manager

Jim Wolbers

Senior Program Manager

Gregg Marschner

Senior Program Manager

Alex Pace

Program Manager

Nick Johnson

Senior Metallurgist


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.

Victor Claudio serves as Chief Financial Officer of the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII). In this role, Claudio is responsible for all financial and administrative functions of the organization. Claudio brings to ALMMII a diverse background in both the public and private sectors, with a keen focus on organizational finance and business operations. Claudio’s professional experience includes product development, fundraising, start-ups and value stream alignment for small, medium and enterprise companies.

Recently, Claudio created a retention and scalability strategy and led the design of a suite of servicing products for one of the leading financial technology enterprise companies in the United States managing a portfolio of over $250B in recurring annual volume. Claudio is credited for the creation of new products that led to additional revenue streams of over $780M within 6 months of launch.

Prior to his role in enterprise product strategy, Claudio co-founded a financial technology and service company focused on creating a new vertical in the financial industry. The result was a digital personal financial wellness product providing services and solutions for the financial services industry. Claudio also successfully owned and operated a process manufacturing and consulting business where he provided a wide range of services to streamline and improve manufacturing technologies and processes for the electronics industry.

Claudio began his career with Code Alarm Inc., holding various technical positions, where he led effective teams of technicians and engineers through the manufacturing, production test and product development cycles for the leader in automotive security for OEM and retail industries.

Claudio studied internationally and possesses a BA in Management from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Claudio also holds an MBA in Accounting and master’s degree in Financial Management and a post graduate certificate in financial planning.

Noel Mack is the Chief Technology Officer at LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense manufacturing innovation institute.

In this role, Mack implements new technology focus areas to ensure alignment with Department of Defense priorities, directs large scope, complex projects and programs, leads LIFT member involvement in technology projects and serves as a mentor to LIFT technical and engineering staff.
Mack brings over 35 years of experience in engineering and design to LIFT. Previously, Mack served as a product line executive, strategic technologies at American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. and as Director and Business Unit Lead, Driveline and Transmission Systems at Ricardo’s Detroit Technical Center. Mack also held leadership positions at Magna International, Inc. and Magna Steyr.

He began his career in the aerospace and defense industries, working at Denel Aviation as the Principal Engineer, Stress and Design, and as Manager of CAD and Specialist CAE Engineer for Combat Vehicles, Tanks, Heavy and Light Armored Vehicles at Denel Land Systems/Ermetek.

Mack holds six U.S. patents and is a graduate of both the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautical Specialization and the University of Detroit Mercy, where he earned a Master of Engineering Management degree and a Graduate Certificate in Business Turnaround Management.

Sean Conway is the Senior Vice President - Technology at LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute.

In this role, Conway identifies Department of Defense customer needs and matches them with LIFT’s technology and talent development capabilities to coordinate program and training activities within the institute across its ecosystem.

Conway brings three decades of experience in engineering, marketing, business development and voice-of-the-customer experience to LIFT. Previously, Conway served as a Director of Marketing & Engineering at American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. Conway also held leadership positions as Director of Vehicle Integration & Marketing at Bright Automotive, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle start-up automotive company, as well as multiple engineering and manufacturing leadership positions over two decades at the Chrysler Corporation.

Conway is a member of several board and professional societies and, over his career, has been a featured speaker at industry events and conferences nationally and globally.

Conway, who is based in LIFT’s Detroit headquarters, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana as well as a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Joe Steele is a veteran communications and public affairs leader with a track record of developing and executing successful plans, strategies and delivering legislative victories, employee engagement and building key stakeholder relationships for Fortune 500 companies, statewide political campaigns, nonprofits and startups.

As director of communications and legislative affairs at LIFT, Joe is responsible for building media and stakeholder relationships, as well as supporting the sales and marketing teams.

Over his career, Joe has led the public affairs strategy for a large telecommunications company, managed internal communications for a large financial institution as it transitioned through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and built a Political Action Committee (PAC).

Joe began his career as a reporter for several newspapers across Michigan, before moving to politics to lead the communications for a U.S. Senate campaign and then as a staff member in the Michigan House of Representatives followed by serving as an appointee of the Michigan Secretary of State.

Joe has a B.A. degree in Telecommunications from Michigan State University.

Philip Chizek, has more than 30 years of Automotive, Aerospace and Defense experience in international sales, marketing and business development for advanced and emerging technologies.

In his current role at the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), Philip manages all aspects of business development including: sales, marketing, project definition, stakeholder relations, member growth and relations. He also supports building a scalable and growth business infrastructure for the institute.

Philip is a highly successful professional and U. S. Air Force Veteran with a broad range of business and technical experiences that has provided global sales, marketing and business development leadership for a diverse range of large and small companies and organizations such as: L3 -Combat Propulsion Systems, U.S. Army – Science and Technology, Ford Motor Company, and Allied Signal Aerospace.

Kevin Kerrigan is the Vice President, Business Development at LIFT. In this role, Kevin’s focus is connecting LIFT with manufacturers across industries to help them work with the institute to further develop, optimize and then commercialize their innovations.

Kevin brings to LIFT decades of experience in the manufacturing sector having previously served as Senior Vice President, Automotive Office and the Senior Automotive Adviser to the State of Michigan with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he focused on international business development for the MEDC’s Automotive Office. Working with the world’s automotive manufacturers he is promoting Michigan’s automotive industry, building and maintaining strong international client relationships, nurturing economic development and assisting foreign based companies who choose Michigan for their future expansion.

Prior to working with the MEDC, Kevin led his own automotive design and engineering company for 20 years and has worked at an executive level for Tier 1 automotive suppliers. Prior positions Kevin had to joining MEDC include President of Eurotech Design, Inc. a Michigan based full service engineering organization, President of Adaptive Systems a turnkey robotic integration company. Chief Engineer at Tata Technologies and Principal Engineer for International Automotive Components based at their Advanced Development Center, Troy Michigan.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Kevin has lived and worked in the U.S. since 1983. He is married with two children and currently resides in Fenton, MI.

Kevin completed a full indentured British Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship in the UK.

Hadrian Rori is a Senior Technical Advisor at Detroit-based LIFT, one of the founding Manufacturing USA institutes.

Mr. Rori is an accomplished executive with over 34 years of experience in product creation and quality improvement, and previously served as the Chief Technology Officer at LIFT.

His previously held positions include consultation to suppliers and entrepreneurial start-ups in the automotive sector providing operational guidance in application development and manufacturing ramp-up from small-scale prototyping to series production.

Prior positions also include Executive Vice President for Akebono Brake Corporation, where he was responsible for North American Engineering, Quality and Program Management. In addition, he served as Vice President of Vehicle Engineering at Bright Automotive. A manufacturer of state-of-the-art lightweight, hybrid electric vehicles for commercial and government fleets.

Prior to Bright Automotive, Mr. Rori spent 24 years with Chrysler Corporation where he held a variety of product engineering executive positions. His last role at Chrysler was Director of Chassis Engineering for body-on-frame products. Prior to this position, he was senior manager – Jeep® Vehicle Development where he directed the group responsible for functional and quality objectives, vehicle testing, and development for the Grand Cherokee® program.

Mr. Rori has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and an M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Detroit. He holds four U.S. patents – two patents for lightweight vehicles and associated components and two patents for advanced passenger car chassis systems.

Alan Taub joined the faculty of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan in the Fall of 2012. In this role, Taub is conducting research in advanced materials and processing and has a leadership role as Chief Technical Officer of the newly established American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Taub retired from General Motors in April 2012. Prior to his retirement, he was vice president, Global Research & Development, leading GM’s advanced technical work activity, seven science laboratories around the world, and seven global science offices. He joined GM R&D as executive director in 2001 and was named vice president in 2009.
Taub serves on the boards of several small companies: Nine Sigma, CellEra and Brightway Vision and is technical advisor for a new strategic venture fund, Auto Tech Ventures.

Before joining GM, Taub spent 15 years in research and development at General Electric, where he earned 26 patents and authored more than 60 papers. He also worked at Ford Motor Company for eight years.

Taub received his bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Brown University and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in applied physics from Harvard University. Taub was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 2006. He is currently Chair for the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT) for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is a member of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) Energy Materials Blue Ribbon Panel. He also serves on advisory boards for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Taub received the 2011 Acta Materialia Materials & Society Award. In 2010, he was awarded the Charles S. Barrett Medal from ASM International’s Rocky Mountain Chapter. He received the Materials Research Society’s Special Recognition Award in 2004 and Woody White Service Award in 2002. He also received the Brown University Engineering Alumni Medal in 2002.

Juan Aguayo-Leal serves as the Director of LIFT Puerto Rico, the institute's satellite on the Island.

In this role, he is responsible for performing advanced professional and managerial work planning, organizing, and directing activities of LIFT Puerto Rico and working relationships with manufacturers, governmental agencies, training service providers, business contractors, employers, community colleges, and other educational institutions.

Aguayo-Leal is a former infantry paratrooper and operations and logistics officer (veteran) with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in the U.S. Army, and previously as an infantry officer with the 1/65th Puerto Rico Army National Guard. He has a master’s degree in communications from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, USA, and has completed various courses in Business Administration from the Executive MBA Program of the University of New Orleans in Louisiana, USA, among other business training certificates.

Aguayo-Leal is the former Director of Business Development for the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. His team was responsible for providing professional assistance to businesses interested in expanding manufacturing operations, establishing new R&D projects, and/or acquiring new channels of distribution for products and services within Puerto Rico’s tax structure for job creation grants and credits. Some of the projects included high technology sectors such as information technologies, telecommunications, and aerospace engineering, among others.

Aguayo-Leal has also served as a health education official for the city of Houston Department of Health and Human Services, and as Vice President of finance and administration for Caribbean University in Puerto Rico. He has over 30 years of experience in business communications and as a multimedia marketing consultant and trainer for various commercial and non-profit organizations.

Marina Fell

Staff Accountant

Rich Hoffer

Manager, Facility Operations

Jihad Mims

Manager, Learning Lab

Fatima Majid

Manager, Talent Programs

Felipe Perea

Events Coordinator

Alessandro Posteraro

Manufacturing Engineer

Jessica Saba

Accounts Payable Specialist

Bret Saka

Financial Analyst

Ivory Smaw

Executive Assistant

Demaro Turner

Senior Advanced Manufacturing Technician

Mark Whalin

Manager, Human Resources & Administration

Derek Zbikowski

Manager, Advance Manufacturing Operations

Lisa McLellan

Front Receptionist