Board of Trustees

Ashland University Trustee, Ronald B. Alford
Ronald B. Alford
  • President, The John and Mary Alford Foundation
  • President, OBX Ventures

Ron Alford is president of The John and Mary Alford Foundation, a supporting organization of the Licking County Foundation, which seeks to improve and enhance the quality of life primarily in the Licking County community through the support of educational, social, religious and cultural programs. He is also president of OBX Ventures, real estate development and property management located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Ron earned a bachelor’s degree from Ashland College in Business Administration and attended the Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia. In addition to serving on the AU Board of Trustees, he is also a trustee for the Methodist Theological School in Ohio and the Ohio State University Newark Campus. Ron is a member of Worthington United Methodist Church. He has four children: Jennifer, Bryan, Kyle and Heather and currently resides in Worthington, OH.

Ashland University Trustee, Robert Archer
Robert Archer
  • CEO, Kent Watersports

Bob Archer graduated from Case Institute of Technology in 1957 and received his MBA from Kent State University in 1960. He began working at The Hoover Company in North Canton, OH in 1957 and later worked for White Motors in Cleveland, OH before joining Brown Group/Eagle Rubber Co. in 1973. He also taught undergraduate evening classes at Kent State/Canton from 1961-65. In 1981, Bob purchased Kent Watersports with five partners from Brown Group. Since then, the company has made 34 acquisitions and divested three. Watersports brands include HO/Hyperlite, Liquid Force, O’Brien, Connelly, Barefoot International, Absolute Outdoor, Onyx, Kidder and Full Throttle. The company also offers Arbor Snowboards and Arctic Shield hunting apparel. Bob and his wife, Janet, have been married since 1957 and live in Ashland. They have three children, Pamela, David and John.

Rickey Bolden
Ashland University Trustee, Fred B. Broad (Vice-Chair)
Fred B. Broad
  • Vice-Chair
  • Consultant, Packaging Corp. of America

Fred Broad is the former owner of Packaging Specialists, LLC, which he recently sold to Packaging Corp. of America (PCA). He currently serves as a consultant at PCA overseeing operations. Fred has been an Ashland University trustee since 2007 and is currently serving as the Institutional Advancement Committee Chair. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ashland College in 1975. Fred is a 2010 recipient of the AU Alumni Association’s Special Achievement Award. He is married to Anne (Mainwaring), and they have two grown children. Anne received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ashland College in 1976 and is a retired speech pathologist. Fred and Anne reside in Pittsburgh, PA.

Ashland University Trustee, David M. Bush
David M. Bush
  • Founder, Adena Corporation


David Bush founded Adena Corporation in October, 1982 in a joint venture with Kokosing Construction Company of Fredericktown, OH. In 1996, David and his wife, Linda, took over total ownership of Adena, which went on to become one of Ohio’s largest “merit-shop” general commercial contractors, performing work throughout the United States. In 2007, David and Linda sold Adena to its acting President, Randy Payne. David then served on Adena’s Board of Directors for 5 years until December of 2012, when he retired after more than 35 years in the construction business. He graduated from Wittenberg University in 1970.  Before getting into the construction business, David taught and coached at both the high school and college levels, along with managing a small manufacturing plant outside of Wooster, OH. In 1999, David served as the president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) at both the state and national level, traveling throughout the United States and Canada for the association and the construction industry. David and Linda live on a small farm in northern Holmes County, OH, where they spend time with their 4 children and 4 grandchildren.

Ashland University Trustee, Mark E. Camp
Mark E. Camp
  • CEO, President and Owner, RCO Sales, Inc.

Mark Camp is a 1969 graduate of Ashland College with a BS in Education.  He has worked on his master’s degree in secondary administration at Kent State University.  Mark taught seven years at Strongsville High School, Strongsville, OH, and also coached football and wrestling.  He left teaching to begin his business career in 1976.  Mark started selling in the electronics industry and in 1982 bought into Rockford Controls.  In 1996, he co-founded RCO Sales, Inc., and became sole owner of Rockford Controls.  Mark has served on four top management councils and developed three like councils.  He served on the Ashland University’s Alumni Board for six years and as President during his final year on the board.  Mark joined the AU Board of Trustees in 2004.  He is a member of the United Church of Christ serving many years as a trustee.  Mark has been married to his wife Barbara, for 48 years.  They have two children; son, Brandt, a 1992 graduate of AU, and daughter, Abby, plus three grandchildren.

Ashland University Trustee, Daniel R. Coffee
Daniel R. Coffee
  • President/COO, Silver Creek Services

Dan Coffee started his career in the oil and gas industry in 1979.  His career began in the field with an independent Wireline company, Eastern Well Services, until he was recruited by Schlumberger Well Services, a multi-national service company.  He worked up through the management ranks until accepting the current position with Silver Creek Services.  Dan earned his MBA with an emphasis in Operational Management from American InterContinental University in 2005.  He is a Board member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (Ohio Petroleum Section) and an Ashland University Trustee.  Dan resides in Wooster, OH, with his wife, Barbara, and is the father of Joshua Coffee and Brenda (Ryan) Webster.  Grandchildren include Mason and Kendall Webster.  He attends Smithville Brethren Church in Smithville, OH.

Ashland University Trustee, Steven L. Cole
Steven L. Cole
  • Secretary
  • Executive Director, The Brethren Church

Steven Cole is the Executive Director of The Brethren Church.  He is a native of Texas and has spent time in New Mexico, Georgia and Northern California.  As the Executive Director of the Brethren Church, Steven works to communicate the vision and diverse story of The Brethren Church denomination.  He is a 2007 graduate of Bethel Seminary with a Masters of Arts degree in Transformational Leadership and is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry degree at Ashland Theological Seminary.  Steve and his wife, Beth, have been married since 2001 and are the parents of Maggie and Patrick.

Ashland University Trustee, Brenda Dean
Brenda Dean
  • Vice President, Wealth Management Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Brenda is a graduate of Ashland University, with a B.S. degree in Accounting and Finance.  Brenda has been in the financial services industry since 1979 and joined Merrill Lynch in 2013.  Brenda is currently a Member of the Board for I am Boundless (Not for Profit), Ashland University, Recreation Unlimited, Cleveland Clinic Foundation Pyramid Legacy and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Kilbourne Society.

John W. Denman, Board of Trustees member
John W. Denman
  • Officer and Vice President, J.M. Smucker Company

John Denman is a former Officer and Vice President for The J.M. Smucker Company, an $8 billion food and beverage manufacturer and marketer of iconic North American brands including Smucker's®, Jif®, Folgers®, Crisco® and in pet food and pet snacks, Meow Mix®, Milk Bone®, Kibbles ‘n Bits®, 9Lives®, and many more.

In his 40 years of service at The J.M. Smucker Company, he held eighteen positions in Finance and Human Resources.  His first 35 years were in Finance, including Chief Financial Officer, Canada; and Global Controller & Chief Accounting Officer.  His last 5 years were in Human Resources, including Vice President Human Resource Operations and Senior Director, Talent Acquisition & Employee Development.  John served as an officer of the Company from 2004 - 2016.

John received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ashland University in 1979.  He passed the CPA exam in 1982.

John serves on the Ashland University College of Business and Economics Advisory Council.  He also served on the board of The Institute for Global Ethics.  John was the recipient of the 2014 Ashland University Alumni Special Achievement Award.

John retired from The J. M. Smucker Company on March 29, 2019. He and his wife, Hallie, reside in Akron, Ohio.  They enjoy travel and time with family.

Ashland University Trustee Reid Firestone, Pastor (retired)
Reid A. Firestone
  • Assistant Secretary
  • Pastor (Retired)

Reid A. Firestone is a pastor who has retired from full-time ministry, having served Northern Ohio congregations for both the Church of the Brethren and Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, and currently holds ordination credentials in the FGBC.  Reid and his wife Terri reside in Ashland.  They were “college sweethearts,” having met at and graduated from (then) Ashland College.  The Firestones are the parents of two adult children, and currently have five grandchildren. Originally from Spencer, Ohio, Reid is a graduate of Black River High School, Ashland University and Ashland Theological Seminary.  He has served in pastoral ministry since 1990, and was employed for sixteen years in the retail and financial industries following college.  Reid currently serves as a Chaplain for the City of Ashland Police Department, is the lead teacher in the 314 Grace Group at Ashland Grace Brethren Church and fills the pulpit for several area churches in a pastoral absence.  Reid enjoys golf, travel (especially to their “Sturgeon Bay Getaway” in Wisconsin) and recreational reading.  He is an avid AU, OSU and Cleveland sports fan.  

Chaplain David Graetz
Chaplain David Graetz
  • Chief of Chaplain Services, Lexington, Kentucky VA Medical Center

Chaplain David E. Graetz is a resident of Campbellsburg, Kentucky. Ordained as an Elder of The Brethren Church of Ashland, Ohio in 1987, he served as Senior Pastor of the Highland Brethren Church in Marianna, Pennsylvania. After completing a Clinical Pastoral Education Residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, he became a hospital chaplain at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Kentucky. He transferred to the Lexington, Kentucky VA Medical Center on February 5, 2017 where he serves as the Chief of Chaplain Service. He is a board certified chaplain with the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains.

He began his military service in the United States Navy on Active Duty from 1975 to 1979, serving with Patrol Squadron 24 out of Jacksonville, Florida. He deployed to Sigonella, Sicily twice and once to Keflavik, Iceland serving on a P3C flight crew chasing Russian submarines over the Mediterranean and North Atlantic Oceans. He completed his naval service in the Reserves where he achieved the rank of First Class Petty officer.

In 1984, he received a Direct Commission in the Army Reserves as a Chaplain Candidate. He transferred to the Army National Guard in 1985. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Circleville Bible College in Circleville, Ohio in 1983 and his Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary in 1986. In addition, in 2008 he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.

Chaplain Graetz became the Assistant Chief of Chaplains for the Army National Guard on 17 January, 2014 and was promoted to Brigadier General on December 10, 2014. He became the Joint Chaplain at National Guard Bureau on August 1, 2015. His previous chaplain assignments include serving as the Senior Army Chaplain for the Kentucky Army National Guard, the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, 1/123rd Armor Battalion, 737th Maintenance Battalion, 1/110th Infantry Battalion, the Deputy Staff Chaplain for the 377th Theater Support Command in Camp Arijan, Kuwait and the Staff Chaplain for the National Support Element in Taszar, Hungary. He has served in the Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky Army National Guards and served with the Tennessee Army National Guard while in Kuwait. He retired from the Army National Guard on January 31, 2017.

His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, the Division Chaplain and Chaplain Colonel Courses, the United States Army War College and the Defense of Civil Authorities Course.

Chaplain Graetz has served in Operation Joint Forge, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Jump Start as well as serving on an activation in a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF). He responded to Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.

His military awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

He is married to the former Gale Ann Unger. They have been married for 38 years. Together they have three daughters and two sons-in-law, one who is also a Citizen Soldier Chaplain in the Army National Guard. They are the grandparents of two grandsons, Josiah and Isaiah and four granddaughters, Kloey, Hannah, Lily and Isabella.

Ashland University Trustee, Patricia M. Gravatt
Patricia M. Gravatt

Pat Gravatt is a retired corporate human resources professional in a Fortune 400 company.  She is a graduate of McDaniel College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.  She received her MBA from James Madison University.  Pat has been a very active member of Mt. Olive Brethren Church in Virginia for 30 years and currently serves on the Executive Board of the Brethren denomination.  Pat has been married to Doug for nearly 45 years.  They have two married daughters and three terrific grandchildren who keep them very busy.

Neil Gupta
Rebeccah Heinrichs
Rebeccah L. Heinrichs
Ashland University Trustee, James H. Hess
James H. Hess
  • Chair
  • Owner/Co-Founder, Whitcomb & Hess, CPAs & Financial Advisors

Jim Hess is President and Managing Principal of Whitcomb & Hess, CPAs & Financial Advisors in Ashland, Ohio.  As a firm, W&H uses an integrated services model to offer a wide variety of financial and business advisory services to companies, organizations, and individuals.

An Ashland native, Jim is a graduate of Ohio Northern University and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1982. He and his wife, Margaret Ann, are the parents of two married sons – Timothy (Jennifer), and Mark (Amanda).  They are also proud grandparents of three grandchildren:  Sophia, Alexander and Charlotte.

Jim has been involved in leadership and advisory roles in the community with Ashland University, United Way, Ashland Family YMCA, National City Bank, Ashland County Community Foundation, Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, and Lifework Leadership/City Gates marketplace ministry through Ashland Theological Seminary.

Jim and Margaret Ann are long-time members of Park Street Brethren Church where Jim has served as Moderator of the Leadership Board and as a share group and youth leader.

Ashland University Trustee, Terry Hofecker
Terry Hofecker
  • CEO. Demeter, Inc.

Terry Hofecker is the Chief Executive Officer of Demeter, Inc., in Springfield, OH. Demeter, Inc. beats “swords into ploughshares” by adapting military technology for agricultural purposes. After decades of work in archaeology in the Mideast, Terry was recruited by the Trident Group to develop unmanned aerial vehicles for first responders and the military before spinning off Demeter, Inc. in 2015 to use these and other military technologies for peaceful purposes. As a bi-vocational pastor in the Brethren Church, he founded Agora Church in Dublin, OH, in 2012 with his wife, Deborah, and continues to serve as its Teaching Pastor. Terry holds degrees from Liberty University, Grace College and Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary with additional studies at Jerusalem University College and research with Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ashland University Trustee, G. Emery Hurd
G. Emery Hurd
  • Lead Pastor, Cheyenne Brethren Church

G. Emery Hurd graduated in 1979 from Ashland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Services and Religion.  He received a Master’s of Divinity and Master of Arts in Pastoral Clinical Psychology in 1983 from Ashland Theological Seminary.  In 2002 he received a Doctorate in Ministry Transformational Leadership from Ashland Theological Seminary.  He is currently the Lead Pastor of Cheyenne Brethren Church and National Moderator of the Brethren Church.  He and his wife, Susan, were married in 1980.  They have two daughters, Crystal Hurd Graf and Tiffany Hurd Jones.  Emery enjoys reading, racquetball, motorcycle riding and woodworking.

Ashland University Trustee, Deborah Liebert Karl
Deborah Liebert Karl
  • Educator (Retired)

Deborah Liebert Karl graduated from Ashland College in 1972 with a BS in Education.  After graduation, she taught at Pioneer Career and Technology Center in Shelby, OH from 1972-1983.  Deborah served on the Ashland University Alumni Board of Directors from 2003-2008, and currently serves on the Recreation Unlimited Board of Trustees, a non-profit organization serving individuals with physical and developmental disabilities and health concerns in Ashley, OH.  Deborah and her husband, Ron, have a blended family of five daughters and eight grandchildren.  Deborah and Ron live in Powell, OH.

Ashland University Trustee, Billie A. Massie
Billie A. Massie, RN
  • Nurse Manager (Retired), MedCentral Health System

Billie Massie has been a member of the Ashland University Board of Trustees since May 17, 2013.  She has a deep commitment to AU and takes every opportunity to support and attend events at the University and Ashland Theological Seminary.  Billie is honored to be a trustee and currently serves on the Academic Affairs committee and Retirement Plan subcommittee.  She works closely with the AU Dwight Schar College of Nursing.  Billie graduated from the MB Johnson School of Nursing, Elyria, OH, and 12 years later received her BS in Professional Arts from St. Joseph’s College, North Windham, ME.  She formerly worked in Nursing Administration at Tampa General and MedCentral Health System.  Billie is past president of the American Association of Spinal Cord Nurses.  Currently, she is very active in the Ashland Medical Reserve Corps and local and state nursing associations.  Billie also serves on the board at Albion Brethren Church.

Ashland University Trustee, Paul E. McKnight
Paul E. McKnight
  • Senior VP (Retired), Emerson Electric

Paul McKnight is a retired Senior VP from Emerson Electric in St. Louis, MO.  In this role, he was responsible for global executive succession planning and leadership development.  He is an Ashland College graduate and has an MBA from Xavier University.  Paul is married to Lani, who is also an Ashland College alumni, as are their son and daughter.  He also serves on the Junior Achievement USA Board of Directors.  The McKnights reside in Columbus, OH.

Fred Miller
Robyn Minnear, Board of Trustees member
Robyn Minnear
  • Vice President and Manager, Chase Private Client Office, Chase Bank

Robyn Minnear is currently the Vice President and Manager of the Chase Private Client office at Chase Bank in Ashland, Ohio. Robyn has been in the financial services field since 2005. She has held several positions throughout the years at First Merit Bank, U.S. Bank and now Chase, that have helped her professional and personal growth.

Robyn received her BA in Public Communications and an additional BA in Electronic Media Production in 2002 from Ashland University.

Robyn serves as chair of Chase’s Market’s Employee Appreciation and Engagement board as well as leads their Internal Learning and Growth Program. She has been a member of the Ashland University Board of Directors where she most recently served as President.

Robyn enjoys hiking and swimming with her husband, Chad and 6-year-old son, Alexander. Robyn and her family reside just outside of Ashland.

Thomas Minnich
Thomas Minnich

Tom Minnich is a 1981 graduate of Ashland with a BSBA.  He received a Master of Business degree from Frostburg (MD) State University in 1984. Tom was a non-traditional student, working full-time while attending night classes.

Tom began his career in banking and then in 1978 joined Eagle Rubber in Ashland.  He received several promotions with Eagle and Hedstrom Corporation, ending as VP Finance and a Director from 1987 through 1993.  In 1993, he joined Kuhlman Electric Corporation in Lexington, Kentucky as VP Finance, Secretary and Director.  He was named Kuhlman’s President & CEO in 2005 and led the Company through its’ sale to ABB in 2008.  Tom expanded his roles with ABB and was recognized as a Top Global Manager in 2009, before retiring in late 2011.

Post-retirement, Tom joined Boards for Radix Wire and American Bath, both successful private-equity companies.  He also consults for First Reserve Corporation, a large private equity company. 

Tom and Loretta Minnich are members of Ashland’s President Circle and have established 4 Endowed Scholarships.  They have been blessed with two sons and four grandchildren during their marriage.

Ashland University Trustee, Dustin J. Ness, CFP®, AAMS®, CRPC®
Dustin J. Ness, CFP®, AAMS®, CRPC®
  • Waterstreet Financial, Managing Partner
  • Raymond James Financial Services, Branch Manager

Dustin prides himself on being an active community leader in both the Sandusky and Ashland areas. In addition to being on the Board of Trustees for Ashland University, he is a member of the Business Advisory Council at AU for the College of Business and Economics, an Advisory Board member for AU’s Eagle Investment Group, and also a Board member of the Ashbrook Center. Dustin is a 2004 graduate of AU with dual majors in finance and accounting, and he was also a member of the indoor/outdoor track & field teams. He was awarded the Ashland University Alumni Association “Young Alumnus Award” in 2010. Dustin, his wife, Lori, and their three children live in Huron, OH. He enjoys hunting, fishing, boating, athletics, and spending time with his family.

David Overdorf
Jim Smail, Ashland University Trustee
James R. Smail
  • Vice Chairman, Farmers National Bank

James R. (Jim) Smail is a lifelong resident of Wayne County, Ohio.  After completion of his education and his duty to his country in the Armed Forces, Jim entered the finance industry at a locally owned retail stock brokerage firm.  In 1972 he joined The Monitor Bank, a small community bank, and purchased the controlling interest in it and retained ownership for 45 years, merging it then into a large regional bank in which he held a substantial ownership interest.  He is Vice Chairman of Farmers National Bank of Canfield, Ohio, Chairman of its Executive Committee and Chairman of its Farmers Trust Company.

In 1975, he formed J.R. Smail, Inc. as its Chairman and CEO and entered the oil and gas exploration and production industry.  His third business interest is as a cattle rancher with ranches in Ohio and formerly in Texas and Florida.  He lives on a ranch in Wooster, Ohio along with his wife Sue and is a member of Grace Brethren Church in Wooster.

Ashland University Trustee, Timothy L. Solomon
Timothy L. Solomon
  • Volunteer Mentor/Associate Pastor, Casa de Restauración

Tim Solomon is the volunteer mentor and associate pastor of a Latino congregation, Casa de Restauración, in Bradenton, FL.  As a USCG licensed boat captain, Tim also works with his wife, Jan, in their sailing charter business, Key Sailing, in Sarasota, FL.  He has also worked as a radio announcer/producer, as the manager of a chain of Christian bookstores (Bethel Bookstores) and in the president’s office at Campus Crusade for Christ at their world headquarters in Orlando, FL.  He later served as the senior pastor of the Iglesia de los Hermanos in Sarasota, FL, for over 10 years.  Born in Ashland, OH, Tim grew up on the mission field in both Argentina and Colombia.  He and his wife also served in Colombia as missionaries for three years, and they continue to be involved in short-term mission trips overseas.  He is a graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary, and his wife is alumnus (M.Ed.) of AU. Both sets of Tim’s and Jan’s parents were also alumni of Ashland College, and both of their maternal grandfathers served on the faculty and administration at AC. Tim and Jan have two children and three grandchildren. Tim has served on the AU Board of Trustees since 2000.

Ashland University Trustee, Robert G. Ward, II
Robert G. Ward, II
  • President/Co-owner, Coldwell Banker Ward Real Estate, Inc.

Rob Ward is the 3rd generation of family ownership at Coldwell Banker Ward Real Estate, Inc.  He graduated from Ashland University in 1987, with honors magna cum laude, with a finance major and accounting minor.  Ward Real Estate, Inc. is the leading local real estate company as well as ranking among Coldwell Banker’s top 20 offices of similar size nationwide.  Rob became a licensed realtor in 1984, a licensed broker in 1988, and holds several real estate designations from additional specialized training.  He has served in various leadership capacities with the Ashland Board of Realtors and is active at the state level as well.  Rob has been a leader for numerous civic and service organizations including Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, United Way, Salvation Army, Ashland University, Ashland City Schools, Ashland Economic Development, and is a Charter Founding Member of the Ashland County Community Foundation.  Currently Rob is involved with the Ashland Main Street Board, Ashland University School of Business Advisory Board, Trinity Lutheran Church, Rotary Club and Young Men’s Business Club.  He is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church.  His passion is spending time with his wife Mindy, an Ashland University graduate and local teacher, and their three children while giving back to the community in which they reside.

Scott Williams, Board of Trustees member
Scott Williams
  • Owner and CEO, Vinyl Marketing

Scott Williams is the owner and CEO of Vinyl Marketing, located in downtown Ashland, Ohio. Vinyl Marketing creates great experiences & great results for their clients through digital marketing, content creation (videos, websites, copy, design, etc.), and marketing strategies.

In 2003, Scott earned a bachelor’s degree from Ashland University with a major in Religion. Scott is a member of Park Street Brethren Church, is married to the love of his life, Anne (Stoffer) Williams, and has 3 incredible children: Josephine, Henry, and Esther.