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SSPC Fills Leadership Posts, Announces Promotions


June 1, 2018

The growth trend at SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings is continuing in 2018 as the organization recently announced several staff additions, promotions, and key changes related to its May 15 reorganization.

Key additions include the hiring of Kevin LaRue as the new Director of Technical Services, and Greg Muha as the new Director of Member Development & Engagement. In addition, Jennifer Merck has been promoted to the new position of Director of Training & Certification. Longtime SSPC Directors Terry Sowers and Michael Damiano are moving into senior advisory roles, with Sowers planning to retire in 2019 and Damiano leading special projects for the organization. Sowers, who has been with SSPC since 1989, will be working in the role of Senior Member Services Advisor and Damiano, who has been with SSPC since 1991, will be the Senior Technical Advisor. Other promotions announced by SSPC include Sara Badami assuming the role of Training Manager and Dustin Young taking on the role of Training Materials Development Manager. Badami has been with SSPC since 2004 and Young since 2017.

Profiles of the key staff are below:

Kevin LaRue, Director of Technical Services
Kevin LaRueKevin joins the SSPC staff after several years as Vice President of the Finishing Contractors Association International based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Previous to FCA, LaRue was National Director of the Labor Management Cooperation Initiative in Hanover, Maryland and National Recruitment Manager for Finishing Trades Institute.

With his experience as a painting contractor as well as his background as an instructor and training provider, SSPC expects Kevin’s transition to be seamless. At SSPC he will work closely with staff and members on the development of SSPC standards and training programs, as well as oversee the PCCP (QP) programs.

Greg Muha, Director of Member Development & Engagement
Open Greg comes to SSPC after 20 years at SAE International where he served in many leadership roles, including his most recent as Director Strategic Partnerships and Business Development. Greg contributed to SAE’s successful administration of the annual DoD Maintenance Symposium; a skillset easily transferrable over to SSPC’s administration of the DoD – Allied Nations Technical Corrosion Conference.

With his experience in establishing and fostering business relationships, SSPC expects Greg’s leadership to be a valuable asset in improving upon the customer experience. At SSPC he will work closely with staff and members on implementing new member benefits and programs to better represent SSPC’s global reach.

Jennifer Merck, Director of Training & Certification
Jennifer Merck Having been with SSPC more than eighteen years, Jennifer has been an integral player of the growth of SSPC’s training and certification programs. As training courses developed and grew to host over 7,000 students per year with an average of 50 training and certification programs being offered every month, it became necessary for a new and independent department to focus on maintaining that growth.

Jennifer has also been a key component in maintaining DoD Funded contracts for SSPC to train and certify more than 3,500 military personnel.

Terry Sowers, Senior Member Services Advisor
Terry Sowers Terry started at SSPC in 1989 managing the Publications department, adding the additional management of Member Services by 1995. Her implementation of member recruitment and retention in addition to promoting new publication sales and marketing efforts led her to be promoted to the Director of Marketing in 1999. In that role, she oversaw all advertising and promotion efforts not only for membership, but for the SSPC International Conference, training programs, copyediting and web development, as well as e-commerce activities.

Since 2006, Terry has been the Director of Membership Services where she has improved upon delivery of SSPC training programs, quality of the technical program of the annual conference, as well as the core values of both individual and organizational membership. Her extensive history with SSPC and its member base are a testimony to her dedication to both the organization and its valued members.

In her new role as Senior Member Services Advisor, Terry will take on special projects in membership development, and will continue promoting SSPC chapter events. In addition, she will work as an advisor to Greg Muha as Greg steps into the Director of Member Development & Engagement position.

Michael Damiano, Senior Technical Advisor
Michael Damiano Michael joined SSPC as the Manager of the Painting Contractor Certification Program (PCCP) and Contractor Pre-qualification in March of 1991. He was named Manager of Technical Services in January 1994 and named Director of Product Development in July 1997. In December of 2015 he was named the Director of Technical Services.

Key functions that Michael has performed for SSPC over the years include directing activities to develop and validate SSPC certification programs, standards, publications and training programs. He has been a key figure in the growth of the PCCP (QP) program since it began gaining traction in the early 1990s, as well as an important leader and historian among SSPC staff.

In his new role as Senior Technical Advisor, Michael will take on special projects in training and program development, and will continue representing SSPC at meetings and events. In addition, he will work as an advisor to Kevin LaRue as Kevin steps into the Director of Technical Services position.

Sara Badami, Training Manager
Sara Badami Sara has been directly involved with SSPC’s training and certification programs for the past fourteen years. Under her leadership, the training staff has been better equipped to process the increase in programs being offered, all while maintaining a quality product and responsive customer service.

Her managerial duties will include the growth of international training licensees as well as the promotion of SSPC training and certification programs domestic and abroad.


Dustin Young, Training Materials Development Manager
Dustin Young Dustin joined SSPC as the Technical Service Specialist in May 2017 after two years as a Quality Supervisor at Impact Guard, LLC. He previously served in a Technical Service role at PPG Industries in 2015, having worked in and around the coatings industry since 2011.

In his new role, Dustin will oversee the development and revision of all SSPC training and individual certification materials to stay current with industry updates and trends.