Board of Director's Bios

The Michigan Lean Consortium is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors that believes Lean principles and tools can help organizations of all kinds thrive and turn around the state of Michigan's economy.

Holly Plaga

Holly has a background in Industrial Engineering and Project Management. She has spent over 25 years fostering organizational change to strategically deploy methods of process improvement in both the manufacturing and transactional environments. She enjoys working together with organizations to develop collaborative teams and implementing systems to facilitate process excellence sustaining positive change.

Born and raised in Michigan, Holly has her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan State University and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Lawrence Technological University. Holly has also been an active member of the Michigan Lean Consortium since 2010. Outside of work Holly and her husband, Ken enjoy spending time with their children and two dogs. She looks forward to any activity out of doors, especially gardening and fishing. She also samples as much chocolate as humanly possible.

Vanita DeJesus

Vanita is a transformational Leader with 20 years of Lean experience, working in Manufacturing and the Energy industry. Vanita’s career span includes training, workshop/Kaizen facilitation, strategic planning and coaching leadership teams through a Lean transformation. As a Director for Consumers Energy, Vanita has the great opportunity to lead a high performing team that is responsible for the design, development and deployment of a Lean Operating System. In addition, she leads the Governance Council for Operational Excellence. She specializes in partnering with organizations and functional areas throughout the company to drive overall operational maturity.

Vanita has a Greenbelt and has successfully completed the Lean Office Certification Program at University of Michigan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in Organizational Change and Leadership from Central Michigan University. In her free time, she likes to travel with her family but is not opposed to curling up with a good book in the comfort of her home.

Joshua Foster
Co-Liaison Healthcare Community of Practice and Co-Lead Healthcare Symposium

Josh has 11 years of experience in healthcare operations with five of those years being process improvement related. In his current role, Josh leads strategic continuous improvement teams who focus on reducing waste and improving the patient experience through continuous improvement.

Josh graduated from Central Michigan University with a BS in Healthcare Administration, a MS in Healthcare Administration, and a MS in Adult Education and Training.

Additionally, Josh also holds a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification and a Lean Gold certification.

Pamala Burgress


Pam is a lifelong resident of Michigan and is married with two daughters. She is a Lean Process Improvement Analyst who works for the State of Michigan to help agencies realize process efficiencies. 

Pamela has over five years of experience working in State Government, serving in several capacities. She has served in her current role in Michigan's statewide process improvement office for the past two and a half years, and before working for the State of Michigan, Pamela spent 15 years in the financial industry holding various roles.

Pamela is a certified Lean Process Improvement Facilitator and holds a Black Belt certification in Government, also having formal training in the tools and strategies of Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, Change Management, Contract Management and Emergency Management. Pamela holds a Master of Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration, both from Davenport University. 

Kevin Olds
Events Lead

Originally from Northern Michigan, Kevin “boomeranged” back to join the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) in Traverse City as a Senior Business Advisor in January of 2019. He’s passionate about sharing his knowledge of continuous improvement with others and is a certified Lean Champion instructor. He has facilitated numerous Lean and Six Sigma projects for his Northern Michigan clients. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council and hosts benchmarking events with the Lean Learning Consortium.

Prior to his role at MMTC, he worked as the Process Improvement Manager for Embraer Executive Aircraft in Melbourne, Fla. for 7 years and as the Continuous Improvement/Production Manager for DRS Training and Control Systems in Fort Walton Beach, Fla for 4 years. At both companies he was accountable for all Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints initiatives. He established Quality Clinics, Lean Manufacturing Maturity Models and facilitated more than 200 Kaizen projects in the US, as well as internationally in Brazil.

Kevin was a member of the United States Navy for 10 years. His job in the military was performing aircraft maintenance as an Aviation Electronics Technician. He was a Lean Six Sigma pioneer in the Navy and eventually went on to become Naval Air Station Oceana’s (Virginia Beach, VA) Leading Petty Officer for the AIRSpeed Core Team, which is the Navy’s program for Lean, Six Sigma, and Theory of Constraints. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt by the Naval Air Forces Command (NAVAIR).

Robert Sturza
Communities of Practice Lead
Co-Lead Healthcare Community of Practice and Co-Lead Healthcare Symposium

Performance Improvement Professional at Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw, MI.

Bob has over 25 years experience in plant, field service operations, government and healthcare (inpatient and outpatient). He is proficient in quality engineering techniques including internal and external auditing, Six Sigma, Lean and supplier development. Bob has served as the President for The Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality and a subject matter volunteer for the Michigan Lean Consortium. He is a graduate of Cleary University, a current student at the University of St. Francis and holds numerous professional certifications. In his spare time Bob enjoys referring soccer and spending time with his three grand-kids.

Neil Wilson
Events Co-Lead
Neil is a professional business leader with over 20 years of experience implementing Lean across a wide variety of industries and cultures.

His career began in Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK where he learned his appreciation for Lean as well as the methods and behavior’s associated to successfully practice. He has three degrees including a masters in business and a bachelors in automotive and maintenance engineering. Neil progressed through various roles within Nissan, becoming a Senior Manager of engineering responsible for new vehicle launches and plant improvement activities. From there Neil took a new role with Bosch responsible for South East Asia manufacturing and greenfield developments. For the last 8 years Neil has been running a management consulting company specifically focused to coaching Lean, where he acts as a trusted advisor to many major companies across a range of industries such as automotive, manufacturing, pharma, metals/mining, banking and construction.

Neil has two young children and enjoys trips away camping, playing sports and motor racing. When he is not engaged in any of the above, he can often be found relaxing with a cup of tea. 

Joe Pesz
Membership Liaison
Joe came to Lean in 2005, as a result of some problems his company was having with safety issues specifically related to gaps in training. Learning and implementing 5S, Standard work and Value Streams mapping were his introduction, and those core tenets helped him transition over the last 16 years, from a Construction industry background into Manufacturing and Distribution, Supply Chain and most recently Healthcare.

Currently working as a Lean Coach/Consultant for his company JMPesz Design. Part time musician. Married with two kids, and five granddaughters.

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