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Dr. Richard Willis Heads Up NAPA Engineering Efforts

National Asphalt Pavement Association Announces Promotions for Engineering Team, Government Affairs, and Awards & Marketing


Lanham, Maryland — Richard Willis, Ph.D., has been promoted to Vice President for Engineering, Research, and Technology (ERT) at the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). NAPA also announced the promotion of Ashley N. Jackson to Senior Director of Government Affairs and of Kelly Kanaras to Director of Awards and Marketing.


NAPA represents more than 1,100 companies involved in asphalt pavement mix production and construction across the United States. The promotions were announced by NAPA President & CEO Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E., who said, "Engineering is at the heart of NAPA's work of promoting quality and innovation in asphalt pavements and delivering long-lasting value for road owners and the driving public."


Willis joined NAPA’s ERT team in 2016 as Director of Pavement Engineering and Innovation. He previously worked as an assistant research professor at Auburn University and at the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT). At Auburn and NCAT, Willis conducted extensive research into sustainability, the use of recycled materials, pavement–vehicle interaction, and the life-cycle costs of asphalt pavements. Willis earned his B.S., M.S., and doctorate in civil engineering from Auburn, as well as a bachelor's in physical sciences from Freed–Hardeman University.


In his new role, Willis leads a three-person team responsible for coordinating NAPA’s research, development, and engineering efforts, including overseeing a robust program of industry-supported research projects.


"The opportunity to lead NAPA’s ERT team at a time when things are changing so quickly for industry is incredible," said Willis. "While we don't know what may be coming down the road in the next decade, NAPA will continue to focus on delivering what roadway owners value the most — performance."


The promotion of Ashley Jackson recognizes her important role in leading NAPA’s government relations activities. In addition to strengthening partnerships and industry coalitions to support increased federal investment in highway and airport infrastructure, Jackson coordinates member engagement with Congressional leaders and oversees NAPA’s political action committee.


Kelly Kanaras's promotion similarly recognizes her continued success in administering NAPA’s Diamond Commendations and its Quality in Construction and Operational Excellence Awards programs. She also oversees operations and marketing for the Emerald Eco-Label, a tool asphalt producers can use to develop mix- and plant-specific environmental product declarations (EPDs) to help project owners earn green construction rating system credits, as well as the Internal Traffic Control Program (ITCP) online work zone safety training program developed jointly by NAPA and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).


"NAPA's members rightfully expect excellence from the NAPA staff," said Copeland, "and I am happy to recognize Richard, Ashley, and Kelly for their work to strengthen both NAPA and the asphalt pavement industry as a whole."