Our team of dedicated experts ensure that SOCMA members are always placed at the heart of the association. We utilize our diverse wealth of experience covering specialty chemicals and beyond to support our members with specialized guidance and advice.
President and CEO
Jennifer Abril was appointed President & CEO in late 2016 and is responsible for the strategic and operational management of the association. Jennifer is not a stranger to SOCMA, having previously served as the association’s Director of Performance Improvement in 2006-2008 and was responsible for the development and implementation of ChemStewards®.
In the last two-and-a half-years as President & CEO, Jennifer has been laser focused on showcasing SOCMA’s position as the primary hub for the specialties sector. As a part of this transformation, Jennifer has led her team to refresh its programming and offer new opportunities to develop business partnerships and build industry connections across the supply chain.
Prior to her current role, Jennifer served as the President of the International Fragrance Association, North America from 2008-2016. Under her leadership, Jennifer expanded the membership by 30 percent, enhanced its educational offerings, and made significant strategic advancements during her tenure. Jennifer also spent eight years at the American Chemistry Council where she advanced the association’s international regulatory harmonization efforts on product stewardship and public health issues, in addition to developing marketing and business development strategies.
Jennifer earned a B.A. in International Studies from The American University and holds a M.S. in Management from the University of Maryland, University College. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons.
Senior Director, Technical & Safety
Joe Dettinger brings more than 17 years of industry and technical expertise to SOCMA’s Compliance and Stewardship programs, where he is leading the effort to modernize ChemStewards® and introduce a new Chemical Operations Training Tool. Most recently, Joe served as Director of EHS&S and Government Relations at Bimax.
Joe began his career with Bimax as a chemical operator and quickly advanced into a supervisory role. Within two years he was promoted to Regulatory Affairs Manager and was tasked with building and leading Bimax’s EHS&S program. This position required oversight of activities in all departments throughout the company, as well as staff training and implementation of the EHS&S program.
Prior to leaving Bimax, Joe led the company to achieve two bronze and one silver Performance Improvement Award, as well as achieving ChemStewards Tier 3 status in 2017.
Joe has a B.S. in environmental engineering and an MBA, from Pennsylvania State University. He also holds a CSP designation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
Senior Director, Communications and Engagement
Jenny Gaines is Senior Director, Communications & Engagement, leading the association’s marketing, communications and member retention efforts. She promotes the association and communicates issues impacting the specialty and fine chemical industry, and ensures members are fully engaged in SOCMA’s programs and services.
A longtime journalist and editor, Gaines previously served as Managing Editor at the Greenwood Commonwealth, a newspaper in the Mississippi Delta. She also served as News Editor at the Clarion-Ledger, the largest news organization in Mississippi. Upon moving to the D.C. metro area, she was a Senior Writer for a government contractor.
Among her duties, Gaines supports SOCMA’s Association Management Services, providing marketing and communications assistance to raise brand awareness and communicate issues impacting associations under the SOCMA umbrella.
Gaines has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in English and history from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Vice President, Legal and Government Relations
Robert F. Helminiak is Vice President of SOCMA’s Legal & Government Relations team, where he leads the association’s advocacy efforts on issues impacting the specialty and fine chemical industry.
Helminiak previously served as Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs for the Plastics Industry Association, where he worked with government agencies to develop and implement programs and foster partnerships with stakeholders and other groups to benefit the plastics industry. He has also represented the propane industry and the HVAC industry while with the National Propane Gas Association and the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute.
He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton and a law degree from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.
Senior Vice President, Industry Development and Strategic Partnerships
Paul Hirsh drives thought leadership for the specialty chemical industry, focusing on business growth and market building activities. Bringing more than 15 years experience working in the chemical industry at trade organizations, Paul is focused on expanding commercial programs and services at SOCMA.
In his role at the American Composites Manufacturers Association, Paul increased member retention by 20 percent and created a market intelligence program, resulting in additional non-dues revenue by increasing the number of partnership agreements.
While at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Paul led ACC’s advocacy efforts during international negotiations that developed the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. He also managed Superfund reauthorization advocacy, which included representing the industry before committee members and staff of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, and EPA.
Paul is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Political Science and completed certificate programs in Executive International Business and International Finance and Global Markets at Georgetown University.
Senior Director, Information Technology
David Knoch has more than 30 years of Information Technology experience, working with teams to implement processes around technology, data management and cybersecurity. During his 16 years at SOCMA, Dave has managed, implemented and maintained the association’s database and CRM systems, and he has worked with the Communications & Engagement team to update and manage the backend system of the SOCMA website.
Throughout his career, Dave has maintained medium to large backend systems, complex voice/data infrastructure, transitioned organizations from local to cloud solutions and in charge of troubleshooting various desktop operating systems which provides a complete understanding of many client/server solutions.
In addition to his role in Information Technology, Dave also oversees many office operational functions and was instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition of the move of SOCMA’s offices from Washington, DC, to the current location in Arlington, VA.
Dave has a Certificate in Information Technology Project Management from the American Management Association.
Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration
Vera Stoeva brings more than 12 years of experience from the non-profit sector to her role as SOCMA’s Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration.
She previously managed three organizations with combined budgets of more than $15 million and served as a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Executive Management team. She has also modernized and replaced accounting systems and instituted new streamlined processes, which increased efficiency, accuracy and improved the auditing process for two other organizations.
Vera comes to SOCMA most immediately from the Council for a Strong America, where she served as Director of Finance during an unprecedented period of change and instituted a complete reconfiguration of the Finance Department. Her expertise in managing multiple complex initiatives will be invaluable as SOCMA begins implementation of a new database and other infrastructure improvements.
A native of Bulgaria, Vera has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Auditing, as well as two master’s degrees in both Accounting and Business Administration.
Senior Vice President, Association Management Services
David Wawer is Senior Vice President of SOCMA’s Association Management Services, where he oversees six trade associations and the newly formed Center for Specialty Chemical Science, LLC, which includes 14 chemical consortia.
David has almost 30 years of experience in the chemical industry, including serving as a government relations professional for Ciba-Geigy Corporation, an international chemical, agricultural and pharmaceutical corporation. His 30-plus years of national trade association experience includes roles with the American Chemistry Council, Color Pigments Manufacturers Association and SOCMA.
Having started his professional career in Chamber of Commerce management, David is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institutes for Organization Management.
David also served in both staff and Executive Director roles for Chambers of Commerce in Waterbury, CT, Chicopee, MA, and Northern Rhode Island. He served in regional trade associations, including the Boston Real Estate Board, Lexington, KY Board of Realtors, and the Massachusetts Chemistry Technology Alliance.
Assistant Manager, Administration & Communications
Samantha Floyd is the Assistant Manager, Administration & Communications, and assists all SOCMA departments and ensures the smooth running of office operations. Samantha manages SOCMA’s social media accounts and is the staff liaison for the Board of Governors and the Women in Specialties Peer Group.
Having served in customer service oriented positions including Marriot Hotels, Samantha is dedicated to providing the best service to anyone she engages with.
Senior Manager, Industry Relations and Strategic Partnerships
Owen Jappen manages SOCMA’s Industry Relations program housing the association’s commercial services and industry intelligence components. The programming supports member companies’ business and operational success.
Owen previously worked for Evonik as Senior Engineer on process optimization topics, based in Germany and the U.S. for over five and a half years and was also an Adjunct Faculty Member under North Carolina A&T’s Chemical and Biological Engineering Department.
Outside of SOCMA, Owen volunteers his time as the Chair of AIChE’s (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Young Professionals Committee and was named to the Institute’s inaugural “35 Under 35” list in 2017. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors for the New York based Chemical Marketing and Economics, Inc.
Owen holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology.
Senior Manager, AMS Operations
Tatiana Letcheva serves as Associate Director of three affiliate organizations under SOCMA’s Association Management Services (AMS) umbrella, including the Color Pigments Manufacturers Association (CPMA), Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products (BAHP) and the Institute for Polyacrylate Absorbents (IPA).
In her role as Associate Director, Tatiana oversees operations and programming, including committees, stakeholder engagement and communications. She has extensive experience with leading strategic initiatives to advance the interests of industry trade associations.
In her role under the AMS umbrella, Tatiana oversees operations with the affiliate groups, supporting their strategic goals and seamless integration with SOCMA services.
Tatiana has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Virginia.
Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs
Jared Rothstein is the Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs at SOCMA overseeing the association’s advocacy efforts on environmental, health, and safety policies. He manages a broad range of regulatory issues, including chemical risk management, environmental safety, workplace and process safety, and facility site security. Jared has spent the past 10 years in Washington, D.C., working with a variety of prominent associations, nonprofits and manufacturers. Prior to joining SOCMA, Rothstein was an Account Executive at Kellen, leading technical and regulatory programs as well as strategic initiatives for a number of trade associations in the building and construction sector.
Senior Manager, Communications and Engagement
Amber Thichangthong brings a depth of program and project experience to SOCMA and approaches her work holistically by always keeping organizational objectives in mind.
A former Account Executive at Kellen, Amber is now a member of the communications and engagement department, which is heavily integrated with all of SOCMA’s programming. She prepares press releases, member communications and develops the marketing strategy and framework for multiple projects across the organization.
Amber holds a B.S. English/Professional Writing from Old Dominion University.
Staff Accountant, Accounting
Otgonchimeg ‘Oggie’ Badarch is Staff Accountant. She works with the CFO and Senior Manager of Accounting in managing all daily financial activities, processes and procedures for both SOCMA and our affiliate groups.
Oggie has a broad background of experience in accounting. She received her B.S. in Accounting and Banking from the University of Mongolia and is working towards her Master’s in Accounting from DeVry University.
Senior Manager, Accounting
Michelle Cartwright is the Senior Manager of Accounting and is responsible for managing the financial processes and procedures for SOCMA and all our affiliate groups. In addition, Michelle prepares reports for association audits and board meetings.