Executive Staff

Christopher J. Kersting, CAE, President and CEO

SEMA President, CEO, Christopher KerstingChris Kersting has been president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) since July 2002. He is the fifth staff executive to lead the trade group since its founding in 1963.

As president and CEO, Kersting has led SEMA’s growing influence in the automotive industry through a series of innovative programs and services that help the association’s more than 6,000 member companies capture new business opportunities. With a focus on programs targeted to small businesses, he has championed initiatives that include industry collaboration on vehicle technology, industry data standardization, and strong legislative and regulatory advocacy.

George Afremow, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer


George Afremow, Vice President, CFOGeorge Afremow assumed the position of VP/CFO at SEMA in January 2012.

George brings to SEMA a cross functional (Operational, Accounting/Finance & Technology) background to provide the experience, structure and methodology to manage complex business initiatives and support the association’s strategic business objectives. In his role as VP/CFO, Afremow is responsible for overseeing day-to-day accounting, HR and administrative activities for the association.

Prior to joining SEMA, George was the Southern California practice leader of Business Performance Improvement initiatives for Grant Thornton LLP, the 5th largest public accounting and consulting firm. George’s areas of expertise include finance function transformation, operational efficiency enhancement, streamlining and automating accounting, finance and operational processes.

Ira Gabriel, Vice President, Marketing


Industry veteran Ira Gabriel is vice president of marketing. He works from SEMA’s headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, where he oversees strategic marketing initiatives for the association and supervises the marketing department staff and support teams.

In addition to optimizing marketing for association events and activities, he works to coordinate marketing assets to match association programs and services with individuals at member companies most likely to use them. Immediately prior to joining SEMA, Gabriel served as vice president, executive director of the Motor Trend Certified Vehicle Service Program, an Atlanta, Georgia-based division operating under license from Motor Trend.

Alise Miner, Vice President of Internal Systems & Project Teams


Alise Miner, Vice President, Internal Systems and Project TeamsAlise Miner joined SEMA in 2005 as the VP of Information Technology. In that role, Miner was responsible for the association’s internal IT infrastructure and worked with outside partners and members on key Business Technology initiatives.

She was instrumental in moving the association’s internal data management program forward, as well as in establishing industry-wide data standards. Her contributions to the association were so significant that within just two years, she was asked to spearhead SEMA’s internal systems and projects team. This newly established role is geared toward improving internal efficiencies and standardizing procedures including Lean Office and ISO certification.

Nathan Ridnouer, VP, Councils and Membership


Nathan Ridnouer, SEMA VP, Councils and MembershipNathan Ridnouer is a 25-year trade association professional and currently the VP of Councils and Membership. In this role, he oversees the strategic direction of the organization’s volunteer groups and services to the broad membership base, including Education, Market Research and the association’s member discount programs.

Ridnouer joined the SEMA staff in 2008 as the Senior Director of Member Services after six years with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). In that role, he was responsible for coordinating the organization’s educational priorities, including the seminar program at the annual SEMA Show, webinar schedule and programming created to help students prepare and transition into the specialty equipment market.

Mike Spagnola, Vice President of OEM & Product Development Programs


Mike Spagnola, Vice President of OEM & Product Development ProgramsMike Spagnola is vice president of OEM & Product Development Programs and oversees the SEMA Product Development Center. In this role, he collaborates with the SEMA OEM and Vehicle Technology departments, and serves as a resource and liaison for members and automakers. His focus is on SEMA services that help members develop products quickly and efficiently.

Spagnola’s experience includes leadership positions in retail, distribution and manufacturing. Prior to joining SEMA he logged over 40 years in the specialty auto parts arena, including more than 20 years of product development and project vehicle work.

John Stewart, Vice President, Editorial Director


John Stewart has been a writer, editor, editorial director and publisher for a wide variety of enthusiast publications over a career spanning more than three decades.

In his current position as vice president, editorial director of SEMA News, he leads a team of nine accomplished writers, editors, photographers and production specialists located at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California. In this role he works to ensure timely coverage of association events and relevant industry functions, to manage and enhance content in all association communications channels, and to assure consistency of messaging.

John Waraniak, Vice President of Vehicle Technology


John Waraniak, Vice President of Vehicle TechnologyJohn Waraniak has been vice president of Vehicle Technology at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) since May 2006. In this role, Waraniak helps automotive aftermarket companies understand vehicle technology challenges, develop solutions and capitalize on new business opportunities presented by complex systems and new technologies - whether it's vehicle dynamics, green performance or autonomous driving.

With more than 25 years of hands-on experience working for automotive, motorsports, aerospace and consumer products companies, Waraniak is an expert in vehicle systems engineering, motorsports program management and lean product development. He serves as an advocate for SEMA members, often collaborating with automakers and suppliers for performance product development and systems integration opportunities.

William Miller, SEMA Senior Vice President, Operations


William Miller, SEMA SVP, OperationsWilliam (Bill) Miller brings over 20 years of industry experience as a hands-on leader in facility operations, marketing and special event promotions to SEMA. In his role as Senior Vice President of Operations, Miller is responsible for strategic planning and overseeing day-to-day business initiatives for five departments within the association. These include Events & Communications; Membership & Marketing; Market Research; Information Technology; and OE Relations.

Miller is a motorsports veteran and long-standing employee at Penske Motorsports and International Speedway Corp.(ISC). He served as president of the California Speedway in Fontana, California.


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