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Our Leaders

Meet Cadence's Leadership Team

Alan Connor

President and CEO

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA so I am obligated to insert a “Go, Steelers!” here.  Actually, I remain a Pittsburgh sports fan even though I moved south to Virginia in 2009.  My wife was my high-school sweetheart (still is!) and we have two daughters.  My education includes a degree in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

My early career experience included manufacturing, quality and project engineering and supply chain consulting.  I also have almost 20 years of experience in a variety of management roles within large and medium-sized medical device companies, including supply chain management, manufacturing, marketing and new product development.  I joined Cadence as President in 2011 to help continue the growth of the organization while maintaining its unique entrepreneurial culture.

Professionally, I am passionate about building great organizations and developing a culture of continuous improvement.  I was fortunate to spend ten years of my career with an organization which received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award where I learned how to build a sustainable, long-term culture of excellence.  Among other consulting and volunteer experiences, I was a volunteer for the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative, working with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to apply lean manufacturing principles to improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of healthcare services. I currently serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VABIO) and as an advisor to several start-up medical device companies.

The majority of my spare time is spent playing golf (poorly), flying airplanes (well, I hope), exploring new restaurants with my wife, and keeping up with my two daughters, one who lives in works in Charlotte, NC, and one who is college in Chicago.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I am also a pilot – a lifelong dream I fulfilled in 2009 and continue to pursue.
  • When forced to fly commercial and during other spare time, I enjoy reading, particularly spy fiction, autobiographies, technology history, military history, and anything related to aviation.

Ken Cleveland

CFO

Born in Virginia, I grew up within 10 miles of our current Virginia facility. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1988 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and was fortunate during my college days to spend a summer working for a one-machine, 3 person start-up called Specialty Blades. I caught the “fever” for small business that summer and probably learned as much in 3 months as I had the previous three years. After graduation, I was lured by the bright lights of “big company” life and went to work for Westinghouse in Aiken, SC. But the “fever” never went away and after going back to school and receiving an MBA from the University of South Carolina, I came to work for Specialty Blades (now Cadence) in 1996 as Controller and several years later became CFO.

My wife has endured my “noise” since 1990 (supposedly I’m so tight I squeak when I walk). We have been blessed with two wonderful kids, a son and daughter, and we think Joshua said it best - “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Something that not many people know about me…

  • Relaxing for me is flip flops, shorts, a camper, no cell service, no internet, and no TV…I call it Linked Out.
  • One college summer, I wrote a budget program in basic computer language on IBM’s first “laptop” (IBM’s Portable  Computer 5155) for my personal use…what a geek!  I guess it should have been a sign!

Chris McHugh

VP, Operations

I was born in Detroit, Michigan. I am one of five siblings and grew up thinking I would spend a career in the U.S. automotive industry.  I earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Michigan Technological University, summa cum laude, and then attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. I completed my formal education at Columbia Business School several years later with an executive certification in International Finance and Business.

I started my career with General Motors as an Engineering intern while still in graduate school. I then held positions of increasing responsibility in operations management, quality, engineering, and general management in multiple companies, most notably Ford Motor Company. I studied Six Sigma at Ford and worked as one of Ford’s first Master Black Belts. Most recently, I led the global operations and supply chain for Bemis Healthcare Packaging, which served the world’s largest life science companies with sterile barrier packaging. I have led supply chains and operations all over the world, including Malaysia, China, the U.K., Ireland, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States.

I joined Cadence in late 2019 and am excited to help the company grow in part through world-class operational excellence and collaborative leadership. 

I happily reside in Staunton, VA with my wife, Jody, and our six children. We are very active in our church and enjoy spending time with our friends, hiking, biking, or just being outside.

Something that most people don’t know about me…

  • I like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Jeff Kelly

VP and General Manager

I am originally from Denver but have lived in several places during my lifetime.  I studied finance and management at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and I received my MBA from the Fuqua School at Duke University in North Carolina. I have also lived in Washington DC and spent three years in the Netherlands for an ex-pat assignment, but Pittsburgh has been home to me and my family for the past fifteen years.

I was very fortunate to meet my wife during our first college class (Economics 101), and we are blessed with two great kids, a daughter and a son.

My career began in management consulting that included advising companies on how to adopt new technologies and channels to market, as well as conducting economic analysis for companies in a variety of industries.  In 2003, I made the transition from management consulting to healthcare with Medrad, a medical device company based in Pittsburgh.  Over the past fifteen years, the focus of my career has been to help healthcare organizations grow.  I have held global roles in business development, marketing, sales management and product development with MEDRAD, Bayer Healthcare, Quest Diagnostics and Immunetrics.  During this time, I have managed the launch of several medical device and diagnostic products in the U.S. and international markets.  I joined Cadence in 2015 and continue to enjoy working in healthcare, knowing that the work that we do, and the devices that we manufacture, have a very profound impact on people’s lives.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I was born in Heidelberg, Germany (my father was in the military).
  • My time living in Europe gave me the travel bug, so I love to explore new countries and cities.
  • I enjoy watching football and college basketball when I am not playing sports (basketball and golf), or coaching or watching my kids (basketball, baseball and volleyball).

Chip Harvill

Vice President

I was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I have been happily married for many years, have two grown sons, and two spoiled dogs. I graduated with honors from Virginia Tech in 1983 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and received management certification from the Darden School of Business in Charlottesville.

I have significant experience in the Life Science market (focused on medical device and diagnostics), beginning work in 1986 as one of the first employees for a start-up company known as Specialty Blades. 

Following successful efforts in many evolving roles within a new and growing company (Manufacturing Engineering, Operations Management, and Sales and Marketing Management), I led the launch of a new division in 2005.  IncisionTech was focused on serving the growing medical device market in new and unique ways.  As the VP of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development, I was responsible for leading our company into many new areas of the medical device market.

In early 2011, Cadence Science, IncisionTech and Specialty Blades were combined to create a truly unique partner for the healthcare and life science markets...  This company now goes to market as Cadence, Inc. providing sketch-to-scale solutions for medical device and diagnostics companies.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I have a passion for college football, especially when it relates to Saturdays in Blacksburg, VA watching the Hokies play.

Jeff Crist

VP, Pre Production

Born in Virginia, I spent the formative years of my childhood playing sports, on the water fishing, or in the woods hunting.  I have always been very competitive and I love to win.  I am a graduate of Virginia Military Institute with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned as a United States Naval Officer after graduation.  After one tour in the Navy, I moved back to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with my wife.  I joined a metals manufacturing company in Verona, VA as an Applications Engineer and then soon worked my up to Engineering Manager.  My wife and I both decided to go back to school together before we started a family; me for an MBA and my wife for a Master’s in Education.  After completing my MBA, I found an opportunity with a small company in the Shenandoah Valley called Specialty Blades, Inc. - now known as Cadence, Inc.  I haven’t looked back since.

I have been with Cadence since 1998 and have had the pleasure of serving in many different roles within the company.  I am extremely proud of our accomplishments and the Cadence team.  I believe that the work we do makes a difference in the lives of others and it’s nice to work hard for a good cause.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • Die-hard fan of the Washington Nationals and Washington Football Team.
  • I’m passionate about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the preservation work they do.

Keri Rankin

VP, Human Resources

Another local here!  I grew up in the tiny town of New Hope, VA, just about 15 minutes from the Cadence headquarters.  I had big city dreams growing up, but now that I am mostly a grown up, I am happy to say that I still call the Shenandoah Valley my home.  I live a stones-throw away from the VA plant with my husband, our twins, and a bulldog mix who thinks she runs the house.

I am a proud alum of James Madison University (insert obligatory J-M-U Duuuuuuukes cheer here).  I started my college career in biology, and it was actually my mother who suggested that my social butterfly skills might be best put to use in the field of Human Resources…I still wonder if she was just trying to get out of paying for medical school.  Whatever her intention, I went on to receive a degree in Business Management and a Masters of Education in Human Resource Development, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Not long after finishing my undergrad degree, I started a career at a local company in Waynesboro, VA and discovered that I had a passion for manufacturing to go along with my passion for people.  I was blessed to find a home at Cadence in 2011, and I’ve had fun working with the Cadence team to grow and expand the Human Resources function ever since.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • My husband and I love spending Saturdays each fall throwing purple and gold streamers in support of our beloved Dukes while we cross our fingers for another NCAA Division I Football Championship title.  We also love reminiscing about that time JMU beat Virginia Tech.
  • My husband and I tagged along on our best friends’ honeymoon several years ago with a few other friends.  We call ourselves the “Honeymoon Eight” and we still get together every few years for a much-needed friendaversary trip.
  • I spent several years serving as a CASA volunteer advocating for abused and neglected children.  My husband and I now coordinate an annual event in our community called Operation Over the Rainbow where we collect new personal and comfort items to fill “journey bags” that are given to children as they enter the foster care system.

Tom Nelli

VP, Manufacturing (Virginia)

I was born and raised in Gastonia, NC where ACC basketball, NASCAR, and BBQ reigns.  It was once the textile capital of the world, but it is most notable for being the birthplace to the elixir of the gods – Sundrop! (I never leave home without it).  I graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and my first job was with a small contract manufacturer… I’ve been a ‘plant rat’ ever since.  My career has taken me back and forth from Virginia to North Carolina several times, but the tug of a local girl kept pulling me back to Virginia.  I’ve been happily married and deeply planted in the Shenandoah Valley since 1995.

I’ve been fortunate in my career to experience diverse industries and career growth.  I’ve worked in electronics, textiles, automotive, and military aerospace; all with an underlying metal-trades component.  I’ve been an engineer, supervisor, manager, operator, truck driver, and chief bottle-washer… whatever it took to help the company succeed.  Most importantly, along the way I’ve become adept at implementing Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System in a multitude of business environments.  I’m truly privileged to join Cadence which has such a strong culture of entrepreneurial spirit, technology, continuous improvement, and great people.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I was foolish enough to play rugby in college; tackling with no helmets… which probably explains a lot.
  • I’ve been an Assistant Scoutmaster for over 26 years.  Volunteering in Scouting is a great community service and quite rewarding in the development of the leadership skills of our youth, but it’s really just an excuse to go camping every month.

Brian Plummer

VP, Manufacturing (Rhode Island & Connecticut)

I was born in Massachusetts and have lived here all my life but for one year skiing the mountains of Vermont disguised as a college freshman. I’ve been married for 25 years and have 4 children who keep my wife Martha and me very busy. I graduated from the University of Lowell with a BSEE degree in 1987 and from Northeastern University with an MBA in 1993.

I’ve worked in a variety of industries including semiconductors, lasers, electronics, life sciences, and plastics prior to joining Cadence. I also moonlight part-time as adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts in the Charlton College of Business teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in operations management and am a member of both the UMASS  Business Advisory Board and Business Innovation and Research Center. 

Since joining Cadence in 2009, I’ve found my career here highly rewarding…we have a good team and you tend to feel really good about what you do for a living based on the impact it has on people’s well being.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • My wife and I met studying for a calculus final at the library in college – hopeless romantics, both of us.
  • I’ve succumbed to the gravitational pull of the ocean. Each time I move it’s further east…another couple hundred yards, a little global warming and I’ll be under water.
  • If it floats and has engines or sails, I’m available this weekend.

Sandy Sekadlo

VP, Manufacturing (Wisconsin)

I was born and raised in Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County, also referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest.  Being a Wisconsin girl, it is safe to say that that I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers fan.  Oh, and I do love my cheese, so I guess I can technically be classified as a “cheese head”!

Thirty-five years ago I was fortunate enough to be standing up in a wedding and was paired up with this really cute guy.  What can I say, the rest is history and today he (Jay) is still standing by my side.  Our family grew from two to five as we added three beautiful daughters to our family that are the highlight of our lives.

Over the past thirty years, I have been working in the metal stamping industry, servicing diverse markets that include medical, automotive, and industrial products.  I have held positions in a variety of roles including customer service, scheduling, human resources, and operations management, to today serving as VP of Manufacturing for our Sturgeon Bay, WI plant.  When I walk through the facility and hear the presses running, it is like music to my ears!  I am passionate about keeping both our internal and external customers satisfied and am pleased to say that due to trusting relationships that have been fostered over the years, our company has many long-term employees and customers.

I joined the Cadence team in August of 2014 when they acquired the Wisconsin stamping operation that I manage.  I am proud to be part of an organization that represents a business culture that supports principles such innovation, employee involvement, continuous improvement, and a philosophy of “doing the right thing”.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I am an avid antique collector.  My husband and I enjoy going on antique “hunts,” looking for our next treasure, which might be lighting, artwork, or furniture.  We have done our fair share of restoring many pieces of furniture to its original beautiful condition.
  • A few years ago we purchased a 100+-year-old house that we have spent restoring over the last few summers.
  • My summer ride is a Ford Thunderbird convertible.

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