Natural Stone Institute Staff
Find out who to contact about Natural Stone Institute Programs & Resources
James A. Hieb, CAE, CEO
Jim serves as the lead advocate for natural stone. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic development and execution of the association’s advocacy mission in the areas of industry promotion, membership advocacy, and advancing safety/educational programming. In his free time, Jim enjoys participating in the Oberlin Rotary Club and camping with his two sons who are active in Boy Scouts. Jim is a graduate of the University of South Dakota and Bowling Green State University. Note: CAE = Certified Association Executive.
Jane Bennett, Executive Vice President
Jane Bennett joined the BSI staff as Executive Vice President in June of 2009 coming from within the natural stone industry and bringing diverse experience from previous tourism, manufacturing, marketing and promotional employment. Her role with the Natural Stone Institute continues to be heavy in event planning, awards program management and natural stone promotion. Of key interest is her work with Building Stone Magazine, remaining committed to broadening the publication’s reach and strengthening the educational component for both members and our target audience in the design and specifying communities.
Chuck Muehlbauer, Technical Director
Chuck is responsible for overseeing development and revision of all association technical documents, including the Dimension Stone Design Manual, technical bulletins, and the technical content of videos and other publications. He also serves as the primary contact for member technical questions, and provides consultative assistance to industry design professionals using natural stone products. The association offers evaluation, inspection, and dispute resolution and technical opinion services on a fee basis for both member and nonmember companies. Chuck is the sole individual performing site visits and authoring reports on behalf of The Natural Stone Institute. Site audits for Commercial A and B Accreditation candidates are also performed by him. Chuck is a frequent speaker at venues such as StonExpo, Coverings, CONSTRUCT, The Natural Stone Institute/Stone World, and AIA. Chuck represents the interests of the assocation membership (and the natural stone industry) on 7 national technical committees, including ASTM, ANSI, and other. Chuck is a graduate of the St. Cloud Technical College.
Michael W. Loflin, Industry Research & Information Manager
Mike supports the Technical Department editing Technical Bulletins, Modules and Design Manual revisions in addition to fielding calls from consumers and assisting member companies, designers, architects and contractors by providing answers to a variety of technical questions concerning the use of natural stone. He maintains the 'Statistics' and 'Safety' pages on our website and manages association health and safety initiatives. Mike's contributions to our newsletter, Cutting Edge, include the 'Safety Tip of the Month' and the 'Here and There' column. He is a member of ASTM E60 Committee on Sustainability. He and his wife reside in Oberlin, OH where he chairs the city's Civil Service Commission. Mike is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Kent State University (EMBA).
Aaron Dahnke, CAE, Education Manager
Aaron is responsible for leading the association's education/training programs which include: stone related training at major industry tradeshows, The Natural Stone Institute/Stone World regional education program, delivery of CEU credits to the design community (managed by Sarah Gregg), and resources from the association bookstore. Aaron is also involved in The Natural Stone Institute's Chapter program. He resides in Westlake and is a graduate of Ohio University, where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees.
Mark Meriaux, Accreditation and Technical Manager
Mark is responsible for leading the Accreditation program and responding to general technical inquiries. He helps applicants with accreditation requests, processing applications, managing the online exams, and coordinating site visits. He communicates with accredited members about program enhancements and opportunities, and works with leading design firms, general contractors, specifiers, and owners promoting The Natural Stone Institute standards and advantages of working with accredited companies. Mark also works with Chuck and Mike to provide technical assistance for members and design professionals. He joins our technical team in maintaining The Natural Stone Institute documents including DSDM, technical modules, technical bulletins, safety manuals, videos, and the member newsletter. Mark entered the stone industry in 2002 when he was an owner/operator of a countertop fabrication shop in Atlanta, GA. He has worked in various roles in stone sales, commercial project management, and technical support prior to joining the Natural Stone Institute team. Mark is a Mechanical Engineering Technology graduate of Kennesaw State University.
Sarah B. Gregg, Marketing Manager
Sarah administers the CEU Program and Women in Stone. She manages the website for the Natural Stone Promotional Campaign, usenaturalstone.org. She is also involved in building awareness and relevance for key industry initiatives, including accreditation and sustainability. Prior to joining the Natural Stone Institute full time, Sarah contracted with several companies and associations in the natural stone industry, specializing in marketing and online presence. She holds an associate’s degree in Sales, Marketing, and Management with an emphasis on Advertising and Public Relations. She lives in Redfield, SD with her husband, two children, and two dogs.
Amy Oakley, Communications Manager
As Communications Manager, Amy works to “tell the story” of the association and natural stone through articles, press releases, and social media posts. She edits the newsletter and works with industry professionals and freelance writers to create content for the Natural Stone Promotional Campaign and other projects. Amy is originally from Youngstown, Ohio and holds an M.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. from Malone University. She spends her free time reading and traveling as much as possible.
Pam Hammond, Executive Assistant to CEO I Natural Stone Foundation Program Manager
Pam provides administrative support to the CEO, board and staff by overseeing a wide array of functions. She is responsible for the association’s international barter agreements, delegation event management, trade show coordination, and Natural Stone Foundation staff support. Additionally, she is responsible for managing the association’s charitable involvement with the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. program. Prior to joining the Natural Stone Institute, Pam was the program manager for a trade association charitable foundation overseeing the annual fund creation, grant administration and management of several fundraising activities. She resides in Oberlin with her husband and three children.
Gina De Nardo, Digital Design Specialist
Gina De Nardo joined the Building Stone Institute staff in New York as a part-time employee in 2011-2012 to assist with the coordination of the 2011 Vermont Study Tour, the 2011 Carlsbad Annual Convention, and the 2012 St. Louis Tucker Design Awards. Bringing a necessary creative element to the staff, she joined the organization full-time in 2017 and continues to provide digital and print design, website development and special program support for key initiatives of the Natural Stone Institute. Gina has previous stone industry experience through her former communications role and freelance work with local quarries. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from The College of Saint Rose and has been working as an independent designer for many years.
Dacia Belisle Woodworth, Architect & Design Community Liaison and Special Projects Manager
Dacia is a past board member who has served as an active volunteer with many Natural Stone Institute programs, including Women in Stone and the CEU program. She has worked in the natural stone industry since 2001 in a variety of roles including project management, sales and marketing, education, and technical assistance.
Christine Niswender, Accounting Manager
Christine manages all internal accounting functions including financial reporting, forecasting, budgeting and cash flow management. In addition, she oversees benefits, payroll, and other human resource functions for the NSI staff. Prior to joining the Natural Stone Institute team, Christine worked as a contract accountant in the corporate sector handling a variety of tasks for large companies with both foreign and domestic accounts. Christine earned her MBA in Accounting from Ashland University and her BS in Mathematics from Cleveland State University.
Naomi Kocer, CEU Coordinator
Naomi graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Contemporary Media and Journalism with a double emphases in Advertising and Public Relations. She previously worked for Aramark marketing at USD, then moved to healthcare finance, and then left the workforce to care for her children. Together wither her husband, they reside in Redfield, SD and have two children.
Jeff Pavic, Membership | Sales Manager
Jeff joined the Natural Stone Institute in July 2020. He leads the membership department and serves as primary sales lead for membership and non-dues revenue, including sponsorships. Jeff has held sales, business development, marketing, and operations leadership roles across multiple industries, including trade associations. He has an MBA and BS from Bowling Green State University and currently serves on the Boys & Girls Club of Lorain County Advisory Board. Jeff and his wife Beth live in Rocky River, OH. They have two grown sons and one daughter (all married) and three grandsons.
Lynn Kovach, Membership Services Representative
Lynn joined the Natural Stone Institute staff in July 2020, bringing 31 years of association membership experience. Lynn is responsible for member engagement, retention, and recruitment. She also supports customer service and membership records. Lynn has a B.S. from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.