Advisory Board

2021-2022 Quality and Continuous Improvement Advisory Board

*Executive Board 

Nickolaus Deanes

Nicholas Deanes is director of training for Challenge Manufacturing Company in Walker, MI. His expertise includes change management, program management, organizational effectiveness, data analysis/assessments, industrial automation program initiatives development, leadership development / mentorship, critical problem solving, innovation and strategic planning/executing.


George Haddad*

George Haddad serves as program coordinator, corporate partnerships for Eastern Michigan University Professional Programs & Training. With PMP, RMP and CSP certifications, George has spent 12 years in the environmental, health and safety field, including ten years in manufacturing overseeing ten plants nationwide with 3,300 personnel and 1,300 robots and machines. George also served in numerous deployments to (Iraq) where he successfully implemented the new Iraqi dinar currency exchange program named "Operation Filous".  His expertise includes robotic risk assessments, construction/manufacturing health & safety and project management. 


A. Joseph (Joe) Kausk*

Joe Kausek is the founder and principal consultant for Virtual Advisors in St. Louis, MO. Joe has a broad background in business optimization, having served as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Examiner for the Pennsylvania and Michigan state quality awards, Director of Business Improvement, Director of Corporate Performance and Director of Vendor Quality. He has also served as the PMO Director responsible for leading business process transformation for two large corporations, and has authored several books on quality, environmental and health & safety management systems and assessments. Joe holds a BS in Human Resources Management, an MBA in International Business and post-graduate certificates in Data Science and Predictive Analytics.  


Jill Kitka Leonard

Jill Kitka Leonard has over 25 years of management system consulting, auditing, and training experience. She is a Certified Process Auditor for VDA6.3 and is a trained lead auditor.  Her experience includes the establishment and implementation of third party registered management systems to standards and specifications including but not limited to ISO 9001, IATF 16949, ISO 13485, ISO 14001, AS 9100, ISO 45001, and ISO/IEC 17025. Jill currently has her own consulting practice, JCK Consulting, LLC, supporting clients with management system consulting, auditing, and training needs working in the fields of communications, medical device, chemical manufacturing and distribution, machine build, manufacturing, assembly, and service environments.


Steve Povenz

Steve Povenz is the director of quality at Shape Corp., headquartered in Grand Haven, MI. Steve has nearly 30 years of automotive manufacturing experience in a variety of capacities, including front line leadership, production management, supplier quality, continuous improvement, and program management. Steve’s experience and proficiency has resulted in a track record of defining and directing quality strategies and projects that outperform industry benchmarks. He currently serves on the AIAG Quality Steering Committee, Nissan Supplier Quality Council, is a certified IATF 16949 Lead Auditor, and ASQ member. Steve’s studies include Business Administration at Davenport University and Grand Rapids Community College.


Michael Rall

With over 30 years of experience in leadership, performance excellence, innovation and communication, Mike Rall builds leadership capacity in both individuals and organizations. As process excellence manager at Dematic North America, he is currently providing coaching, mentoring, and guidance for CI program development and key business process transformations.


Herman Tang

Dr. Herman Tang is an associate professor with the School of Engineering at Eastern Michigan University. He has been the program coordinator for the Master of Science in Quality Management, including the graduate certificate in Lean Six Sigma, and has taught nine (9) graduate courses in quality subjects for several years. Before joining EMU, Herman had worked in the manufacturing engineering of FCA (now Stellantis) for over 16 years. His expertise and interests concern the fields of manufacturing, quality management, and mechanical engineering, among others. Dr. Tang also serves as an associate editor and reviewer for several scholarly journals and conferences, and as a panelist for the National Science Foundation.


Frank Williams

Frank is a certified and award-winning quality and operations professional possessing extensive hands-on leadership experience in Defense, Automotive, Aerospace, and Heavy Commercial Truck.  Currently with Navistar Defense, Frank has held a variety of positions including Director of Quality, Corporate Facility Security Officer (FSO), Quality Manager,  Plant Operations Manager, Program Manager and consultant, for ISO/IEC 17025 accredited CMM and Test Laboratories. His areas of expertise include effective problem solving using the 8D methodology, continuous improvement, leadership development, automotive core tools APQP, FMEA, MSA, PPAP, Error Proofing, ISO 9001:2015 implementation. IATF 16949:2016 implementation, internal auditor & lead auditor, GD&T, and cost of (poor)quality.


Michael H. Wittkopp, Jr. 

As senior manager, program management and category lead for BISSELL Homecare, Inc., Michael's expertise includes program management, organizational leadership & design, product development, global team leadership, product engineering, strategic initiative execution, professional personnel development, problem solving, quality, automotive launch processes, and APQP.