Board of Directors


Executive Director

SimmonsJulie Simmons is the Executive Director for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium (NWHPEC) in Portland, OR. In this role, Julie is responsible for promoting the vision, mission, and purpose of the consortium, planning and organizing continuous improvement learning events, coordinating benchmarking and sharing between consortium members, and meeting the continuous improvement learning needs of the membership. In this role, Julie also provides mentoring and coaching to individuals within the NWHPEC membership, as well as formal Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata training and coaching.Prior to joining NWHPEC in 2004, Julie spent 14 years with The Boeing Company and held roles, such as Flight Line Expeditor, Shortage Controller, Supply Chain Analyst, and Manufacturing Process Analyst. During her years as a Manufacturing Process Analyst, Julie learned and developed her Lean thinking skills, became a Certified Accelerated Improvement Workshop leader, and had several opportunities to work with the Shingijutsu Consulting Firm in formal Kaizen events.

Board of Directors

ThomasonAlex Thomason (NWHPEC President) is a Lean Master at Nike, Inc. where he applies Lean in order to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.  Alex’s 18-year career includes leadership of Continuous Improvement, Engineering, and Quality organizations in the electronics and consumer products industries.  He also volunteers with youth soccer in Beaverton, OR.  Alex has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

RichardsonSteve Richardson (NWHPEC VP of Finance) has been the Chief Financial Officer for AEC Inc. since 2008. Prior to joining AEC, Steve was a Principal with Tatum LLC, the nation’s largest executive services firm focusing on the office of the CFO. Steve has also served as a CFO and Consultant for several small to medium sized companies.

Steve has more than 35 years of experience in finance/accounting for a wide range of industries including manufacturing, service and distribution, including 25 years in senior leadership positions.

Steve holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Oregon.

Steve serves as a Board member for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium (NWHPEC).

Steve and his wife Debra make their home in Vancouver, Washington. He enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and is an avid road bicyclist.


Rick Alvarado is VP of Operations for Woodfold Manufacturing. In this role he is responsible for overseeing manufacturing, maintenance, facilities and leads the organizations Continuous Improvement efforts.

Woodfold is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of custom crafted Accordion Door, Rollup Door and Hardwood Shutters for both residential and commercial installations. Woodfold is a 100% employee owned company.

Rick has spent his whole 27 year career in manufacturing and at Woodfold. He has held various positions within the company including, Packaging/Shipping Lead, Hardwoods Division Manager and Continuous Improvement Manager. Working his way up from the shop floor has allowed him to build relationships throughout the organization and better understand the needs of the employee owners he serves. He is passionate about change and strives for self-improvement and the development of others.

Rick currently serves as the Scholarship Chairman for the Forest Grove Elks Lodge and is a board Director for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium (NWHPEC).


Jennifer Ayers passion for lean and creating efficiency in everything she touched started at a young age.  When she entered Oregon State University and found out she could create a career out of improving processes she immediately embarked on her journey to major in Manufacturing Engineering and Industrial Engineering.  She was fortunate to land her first job at a company that was far ahead of the curve when it came to developing a culture of continuous improvement; which also led her to believe that all companies operated this way.  Her experience as a Manufacturing Engineer in such an environment further fueled her passion.  She made an exciting leap to A-dec, a family-owned dental equipment company in Newberg Oregon, where she had the opportunity to work with and influence people and processes as they carried out their journey towards Operational Excellence.  As the Operational Excellence Manager, she partners with key leaders throughout the company to help develop the mindset, capability and environment to create a lean, quality focused culture through employee engagement.  Jennifer enjoys collaborating with others to develop a better understanding of purpose and direction for their departments.  She also enjoys creating training programs, developing people, and experimenting with different improvement methodologies.  Jennifer enjoys being part of the NWHPEC board because of the far reaching influence it has on shaping the future of continuous improvement in the Northwest by giving members exposure to key resources, talent, and networking opportunities.

CarrollRichard Carroll is Vice President for Con-way Enterprise Services, the shared services division of XPO Logistics. He was named to his current position in January 2011 and has management responsibility for: (1) the global IT organization for Menlo Logistics, with staff in the United States, Netherlands, Singapore and China; (2) XPO’s Information Security function; (3) XPO’s Lean promotion office; and (4) XPO IT’s Risk & Compliance function.  Richard has more than 35 years of experience in education, manufacturing, software, supply chain and information technology sectors.  Before joining Con-way and Menlo Logistics (now XPO Logistics), Richard was an independent consultant and provided IT consulting services to technology start-ups. Prior, he worked in the utility industry at PGE, in meter services and customer care with Si3 and Firstpoint, in manufacturing at Freightliner and Sulzer-Bingham, and in the software and management consulting field at Impell-Pacific.

He holds an Executive MBA from the University of Oregon, and previously earned his bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and General Science, also from the U of O.

Richard serves as a Board Director for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium (NWHPEC) and steering committee member for Portland State Universities’ PDX Cooperative Education Program (PCEP).

GehringDale Gehring is the Director of ESCO Business Systems (EBS) for Administrative Services.

Dale has over 37years of manufacturing experience with ESCO Corporation. Serving in wide ranging roles from shop floor supervision to site management of multiple manufacturing plants. His primary responsibilities are to coach people and build systems to support continuous improvement.

He is a graduate of Oregon State University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.

Dale is a founding board member of Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium. He also serves on the Board of Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science. CAIS is a charter STEM school with targeted high school education for manufacturing the trades and engineering. Dale served as Chairman for the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. AME is an international organization that promotes Enterprise Excellence.

Frank Twardoch is the Senior Director of Operations for Cadet Manufacturing, a division of Glen Dimplex.  Based in Vancouver, WA, Cadet has been in business for 60 years bringing USA built home heating products to consumers.   He has been with Cadet since 2004, has been a NWHPEC board member since 2016 and is LECP certified through Impact Washington.

Frank caught the Lean bug as a self-study student back in early 1990 when, as a set up tech, was frustrated in how long it took to change injection molds and found what he would describe as his “AHA” moment with the discovery of Shingo’s “A Revolution in Manufacturing: the SMED System”.  This book he credits with literally changing his outlook on manufacturing and his professional life.  From there his thirst for Lean knowledge led him to continuing his personal study of methods and the Toyota Production System philosophy.  His next career path took him to an organization that employed former NUMMI employees in its’ CI department, and as a General Manager embraced the teachings and benefits it afforded his plant.  Soon he was advocating for his plant to host the annual 8 Step Problem Solving convention, which led to a Best in the Company designation out of the 10 plants in the organization.

His time at Cadet has been rewarding, with the company utilizing many of the Lean tools available to us all, with special emphasis on the use of SMED in changing dies in the Fabrication department as well as utilizing these tools in the production line changeover and the Paint department for color changes.  6S (the sixth S being safety), Kanban and most recently the introduction of Kata are all being used among other tools in the plant as well as throughout the office setting, truly spreading the use of Lean throughout the enterprise.

Frank lives in Gresham, OR with his wife Beth and Suzi, their Golden Retriever.  They have two grown daughters, one a Registered Nurse and one a CPA, with both showing an understanding and appreciation for Lean in both the Healthcare industry as well as the financial auditing sector, having both been exposed to the power of 6S in the family kitchen.  Where they once thought Dad was a bit over the top with the organization of the silverware drawer, both understand the value and benefit and both have bought in to the use of the tool in their own lives.  Lean has impacted Frank’s life in so many ways and he is passionate about the future of American manufacturing with the focus on waste elimination.

Board Meeting Minutes