10 Years of SWUGN Committee Members

Since the formation of the SWUGN Committee, there have been a few changes.  Originally a 4 person board, the SWUGN committee has expanded to 8 members - 5 US based and 3 international. Even the name has changed – from SNUG (SolidWorks National User Group) to SWUGN (SolidWorks User Group Network).  Through it all however, the mission of the SWUGN Committee has remained constant.

It might surprise you to learn that in ten plus years, the SWUGN Committee has had only 17 different members.  Committee membership was initially by invitation, but since 2006 has been an elected position.  Committee members serve two-year terms with no term limits.

Here's a look at the past (and current) SWUGN Committee members.

Mark Semmel (2001 – 2006)
Mark Semmel joined the SWUGN Committee in 2001 as the Eastern US representative.  His appointment was based on a glowing recommendation from Mark Peters.  Mark founded the Mid-Atlantic Region SolidWorks User Group, and today is the group leader of the Lehigh Valley SolidWorks User Group. He's also a member of the "SWUGNHall-of-Fame" by virtue of having received the SWUGN Lifetime Achievement Award.

Phil Sluder (2001 – present)
When Scott Bemis retired from the committee to focus on his work, he was kind enough to recommend a replacement – Phil Sluder.  It was a perfect choice.  Phil had become well known in the SolidWorks Community for his Tips and Tricks sessions, and was leading a very successful user group in San Diego.  Phil continues to represent user group in the Western US, having been re-elected twice to the position.

Hal Olguner (2004 – present)
in 2004 it was becoming apparent that international SolidWorks User Groups were in need of SWUGN representation.  Hal Olguner was well known in the Australia/New Zealand area, and dedicated a good deal of his time to helping all of the user groups "down under".  His appointment to the committee helped strengthen an already great network of groups in the region.

Wolfgang Kindler (2004 – 2007)
If you've ever been to SolidWorks World, there's a good chance you seen Wolfgang.  Wolfgang was appointed to oversee the entire European region in 2004 and handled the difficult task of expanding SolidWorks User Groups in a tough environment.  Wolfgang was responsible for helping several European groups get started, but amazingly was never able to get a group started in his home country of Germany.  Apparently it's not easy – there still isn't a SolidWorks User Group there.

Wayne Tiffany (2004 – 2009)
In 2004 the committee lost a long-time member…me.  I was hired by SolidWorks to become the User Community Manager, and relinquished my seat on the committee.  The committee had heard about a terrific user group leader in Kansas City, and set about recruiting him to join the SWUGN Committee.  SolidWorks User Groups everywhere are better off for it.  Wayne's accomplishments as a SWUGN Committee member are great, but I'll always think of him as the guy that can spot spelling and grammar mistakes from a mile away.

Dan Podzimek (2008 – present)
Maybe the quietest person I've ever met, Dan stepped up to the SWUGN plate when Mark Peters retired.  Dan has been leading one of the strongest user groups in SWUGN history for many years in Minneapolis, and is the main reason that the SWUGN Summit – Minneapolis was so successful in 2008 and 2009.  Dan is full of great ideas for user group leaders, and the Midwest US leads the world in the number of local chapters.

Matt Lombard (2004 – 2009)
In 2004, the US was "redistricted" to split the large Southern US region into two separate areas.  Matt Lombard was asked to take over responsibilities for the new Southeastern US region.  Matt's credentials were amazing – he was personally responsible for creating at least seven user groups in various areas of the US.

Luc-Etienne Gagnon (2007 – 2009)
Before Luc was appointed to the committee, Canada didn't have a SWUGN representative.  That changed when we were approached by Luc offering to volunteer for the position.  Since Luc had been running the Montreal group for some time, it was an easy decision to make.

Rob Rodriguez (2007 – present)
When Mark Semmel retired from the committe in 2007, we couldn't have asked for a finer replacement.  Already a legend in the SolidWorks Community, Rob brought a great sense of humor and an outstanding work ethic to SWUGN.  As group leader for the Northern Vermont Solidworks User Group, a SolidWorks blogger, a contributor to training materials, and as a presenter, it's hard to find someone that's more active in the community.

Gareth Rogers (2007 – present)
Not much was known about Gareth until the day he decided to start the first user group in England.  From there it was just a matter of Wolfgang's retirement that brought Gareth to the committee.  Since his appontment, Gareth has worked hard to foster user group growth in the UK – there are now five user groups on a set of islands that not too long ago had none.

Chris White (2009 – present)
Chris White holds the distinction of being the first non-incumbent ever elected to serve on the SWUGN committee.  Chris has been the Canadian representative for just over a year now, but he's been running the Ontario Solidworks User group for several.  He's got a lot of energy, and good things will happen to SolidWorks User Groups in Canada as a result.

Jim Lowery (2010 – present)
In a very close election, former San Antonio SolidWorks User Group leader Jim Lowery unseated the incumbent in the Southern US.  Jim's been around user groups for a long time – he was one of the original members of CTSUG when it was born in 1999, and he ran SASUG for many years.  Jim may be the funniest guy I've ever met, and gets along with everyone.  He's not as well known in the SolidWorks Community as some of the others here, but that's going to change over the the duration of his term.

Tony Cantrell (2010 – present)
Tony Cantrell beat out some stiff competition for Matt Lombard's seat in last years elections.  Tony has been a user group leader in South Carolina for many years, is a fixture on the SolidWorks forums, and single-handedly pulled off a large, regional user group event in Columbia a couple of years ago.  With Tony covering the Southeast US, we can expect to see a lot of really good things.

So there you have it, 10 years of SWUGN Committee members.  We've been celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the SWUGN Committee all week, from the founders to the current board members.  I was hoping to culminate this week with a special announcement, but you'll have to wait a little while for that.  In the meantime, we'll just keep right on celebrating until I can let you in on the fun.

Richard Doyle
My official title is Senior User Advocacy & SolidWorks User Groups - but most people just call me "The User Group Guy". I've been a SolidWorks user since 1997, and was one of the founding members of the SWUGN Committee. Since starting the Central Texas SolidWorks User Group in 1999, my career path has led me to DS SolidWorks and a dream job supporting the SolidWorks User Group Network worldwide.
Richard Doyle
Richard Doyle