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General Information:

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 4800
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800

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About the Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Aimee Dobrzeniecki Deputy Director

Deputy Director: Aimee Dobrzeniecki Aimee has been with the MEP program since 1999 when she began as a Center Account Manager. As an Account Manager Aimee was responsible for managing center performance, developing and maintaining state and local partnerships, and promoting best business practices throughout the system. Prior to coming to MEP, Aimee acquired manufacturing technology experience through her work in ground weapon systems development for the Department of the Army Tank-Automotive Command in Warren, Michigan and through her work in gear research and manufacturing for the IIT Research Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Beginning in 1994, Aimee also worked in the MEP system as a field agent—first, in a position at The Chicago Manufacturing Center and second, at the Manufacturers Resource Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where she assisted dozens of small and medium-sized manufacturers. Aimee received an EMBA in 2004 from George Washington University and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan in 1987.

Alex Folk Program Development Office Director

Director, Program Development Office: Alex FolkAlex Folk leads the NIST MEP team responsible for developing new service delivery capabilities to assist small manufacturers better utilize innovation and technology for their competitive advantage. Additionally, Alex is responsible for two sustainability-focused, multi-government agency partnerships: E3 Economy, Energy, and the Environment and the Green Suppliers Network program. Alex joined the NIST MEP program in late 2000 as a Center Account Manager responsible for managing cooperative agreements between NIST MEP and the MEP center affiliates located throughout the United States. Roles in this position included managing performance, developing state and local partnerships and promoting best business practices throughout the system. Beginning in 2007, Alex served as the NIST MEP Center Operations Manager responsible for the oversight of the Federal partnerships and investments. Before coming to NIST MEP, Alex worked in the electric utility sector first a as a construction engineer with the Potomac Electric Power Company where he was responsible for outage project-management activities working at three of the companies power plants and then as Program Manager for the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), Inc., where he managed several corporate programs with the company as well as provided oversight of all plant project development, coordination and budgeting activities. Alex received his Masters Degree in Business Administration and his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland.

Ron Gan Administrative and Financial Management Officer

Administrative and Financial Management Officer: Ron GanRon joined MEP in April 2007 to oversee all aspects of MEP finances. He also is responsible for the development of the Next Generation strategic panel review criteria as well as for the MEP Center Panel Review process. Ron graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of California in Berkeley in 1988. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1999 at the rank of Commander. During his active duty military career, Ron served afloat in numerous Coast Guard Cutters and ashore in assignments at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and in district offices in Alameda and Long Beach, California. Since returning to the federal government as a civilian employee, in addition to NIST, Ron has worked for the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Treasury.

William Kinser Center Operations Director

kinserWilliam Kinser joined MEP in August 2011, as Center Operations Director with responsibility for leading MEP’s team of Federal Program Officers (FPOs) in providing financial and programmatic oversight for the nearly $90 million in Federal funds awarded annually to support the network of NIST MEP Centers. William brings to MEP nearly 15 years of Federal service including progressively responsible, cross-functional leadership experiences in grants administration. With NIST’s Grants & Agreements Management Division (GAMD), William served first as an Audit Resolution Specialist and most recently as an Associate Grants Officer. During his seven-year tenure with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), William provided direct oversight of grants and cooperative agreements sponsored by numerous EPA program offices and performed lead roles in developing and implementing national grants policies, procedures, and best practices as a Senior Grants Policy Specialist. In addition to his broad grants administration experience, William previously served as the Director of Business Operations, Office of Emergency Communications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and as a Financial Institution Examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). William is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Concord University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.

Karen Lellock Manager of Communications

Karen_lellock_webKaren Lellock leads the NIST MEP Communication team. This team oversees the messaging and outreach efforts focused on highlighting MEP accomplishments and positioning the program as a resource for manufacturers. The Communication team’s responsibilities cover both external communications as well as responding to inquiries from stakeholders such as OMB, Congress and the general public. Ms. Lellock is also responsible for the management and oversight of the Congressionally mandated MEP Advisory Board. Ms. Lellock joined the NIST organization in 1987 and has worked in a number of the NIST Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program and the NIST Director’s office. Ms. Lellock received her Masters Degree in Business Administration from Mount St. Mary’s University and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland University College. Most recently, Ms. Lellock completed the Excellence in Government Leadership Program offered by the Partnership for Public Service.

Mike Simpson System Operations Director

System Operations Director: Mike SimpsonMike Simpson joined the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in 1994 and has led several divisions, including Information Systems and Center Operations. In Mike’s current role as Director of System Operations, he manages several key MEP strategic partnerships with state and federal agencies, MEP Centers, and other stakeholders. He deploys MEP strategic initiatives and new services that result in the improved competitiveness of US manufacturers. In 2009, Mike received the George Uriano Award as a member of the team that developed a national program focused on accelerating the growth of US manufacturers in alliance with industry and NIST MEP’s extension centers. In 2010, Mike also received a Silver Medal for Superior Service, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his role on the team that created the E3 (Economy Energy, and Environment) Program which assists US Manufacturers reduce energy costs, boost productivity, and promote green business practices. Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Mike was a consultant in the nuclear power industry, working with energy companies to reconstitute existing nuclear power plants as well as preparing documentation to relicense existing operation nuclear power plants. From 1984-1989, Mike served as an officer on board the USS John Adams, a nuclear submarine home based in Charleston, South Carolina. Mike received an MBA focused on the Management of Innovation, Science and Technology in 2004 from The George Washington University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1984.

Mark Troppe Manager of Strategic Partnerships

mark_troppe_webMark is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at the US Department of Commerce’s NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. In this role, he leads a team that is responsible for developing and nurturing MEPs relationships with other Federal agencies, Governors and state agencies, industry trade associations, and other partners. He plays an important role in MEP’s collaborations with other federal, state, and private programs to provide leverage for transforming small manufacturers and aligning with state strategies. 

Mark has held a variety of positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. In 2009-2010, Mark was assigned to the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers. From 2000-2007, Mark worked at the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) as Director of Economic and Workforce Development where he wrote about, developed courses, and delivered training on the nature of and opportunities for effective relationships between workforce and economic development organizations. Prior jobs included Director of Training for US Web’s internet hosting division, director of a nonprofit program (Kids and the Power of Work, or KAPOW) that promoted career awareness with elementary school youth. He started his career working a decade with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

Gary Yakimov Manager of Policy and Research

Gary YakimovMr. Yakimov’s current duties include management of the MEP’s policy and research agenda and activities including but not limited to policy papers, impact metrics, client surveys, and economic studies. He recently led the development and implementation of the first significant revision to MEP’s performance and evaluation system in over a decade, titled Center Operations Reporting and Evaluation (“CORE”) Metrics. In addition Mr. Yakimov manages a multitude of special projects for the Director and Deputy Director of MEP. 

Previously Mr. Yakimov served as Director of Business and Industry Strategies for the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce where he directed the project and development portfolio for CSW’s business and industry initiatives, including sector and cluster related work. Gary has helped multiple states and local areas develop approaches and practices to advance regionally targeted industry strategies as a strategic framework for aligning workforce development, economic development, and education policies. Mr. Yakimov coordinated a 21 state, 3 year sector project in partnership with the National Governors Association from 2006-2009. 

Gary is also a recognized leader in developing and delivering workforce intelligence products and services. He is a former Deputy Director for Labor Market Information in the State of Delaware as well as the former Director of Business Policy with the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Investment Board. In each of his positions he has leveraged his unique experience as both a data provider and data user to help make information more usable and actionable by policy makers. He has managed and/or authored numerous State of the Workforce Reports and has trained over 1,000 users across the country on workforce and economic intelligence. 

Mr. Yakimov has been an invited presenter at meetings and conferences hosted by the National Governors Association, the National Association of Workforce Boards, the U.S. Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Census Bureau, the International Economic Development Council, and a variety of others including dozens of statewide and regional events.