Executive Staff

John Stewart, Vice President, Editorial Director

John Stewart has been a writer, editor, editorial director and publisher for a wide variety of enthusiast publications over a career spanning more than three decades.

In his current position as vice president, editorial director of SEMA News, he leads a team of nine accomplished writers, editors, photographers and production specialists located at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California.

Ira Gabriel, Vice President, Marketing

Industry veteran Ira Gabriel is vice president of marketing. He works from SEMA’s headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, where he oversees strategic marketing initiatives for the association and supervises the marketing department staff and support teams.

In addition to optimizing marketing for association events and activities, he works to coordinate marketing assets to match association programs and services with individuals at member companies most likely to use them.

Immediately prior to joining SEMA, Gabriel served as vice president, executive director of the Motor Trend Certified Vehicle Service Program, an Atlanta, Georgia-based division operating under license from Motor Trend.

Gabriel also served as the publisher of Hot Rod Magazine, responsible for managing the iconic media brand along with the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour and Hot Rod Television. Following Hot Rod Magazine, Gabriel joined Motor Trend as the publisher and later became the executive vice president, group publisher of the Motor Trend Automotive Group, which included Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine, Motor Trend Classic, Truck Trend and the Motor Trend Auto Shows.

Gabriel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in technical journalism from Oregon State University and MBA from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Mike Spagnola, Vice President of OEM & Product Development Programs

Mike Spagnola, vice president of OEM & Product Development ProgramsMike Spagnola is vice president of OEM & Product Development Programs and oversees the SEMA Product Development Center. In this role, he collaborates with the SEMA OEM and Vehicle Technology departments, and serves as a resource and liaison for members and automakers. His focus is on SEMA services that help members develop products quickly and efficiently.

Spagnola’s experience includes leadership positions in retail, distribution and manufacturing. Prior to joining SEMA he logged over 40 years in the specialty auto parts arena, including more than 20 years of product development and project vehicle work.

Most recently, he served as President for Street Scene Equipment, where he managed the company’s day-to-day business for 16 years. His experience working with OEMs building concept and project vehicles has led to more than a dozen design awards from OEMs and extensive media recognition. Spagnola has also completed six years of service on the SEMA Board of Directors.


John Kilroy, Vice President/General Manager, Performance Racing Industry (PRI)

  John Kilroy, Vice President/General Manager of Performance Racing Industry (PRI)

John Kilroy became Vice President/General Manager of Performance Racing Industry (PRI) when the racing business magazine and trade show company was purchased by SEMA in 2012. He works from the company’s Laguna Beach, California, offices, where he oversees a staff of professionals who produce PRI Magazine and annual PRI Trade Show.

Prior to the acquisition by SEMA, Kilroy logged over 20 years experience in management at PRI. During that time, he worked closely with founder Steve Lewis to grow the company from a bi-monthly publication and a 600-booth trade show in 1990 to the hub of the racing marketplace that PRI is today. During that time, Kilroy participated in setting up signature show features and exhibits that were responsible for bringing top-tier racing figures to the PRI Show, among other things.

PRI magazine is the only business-to-business magazine in racing and is closely read by over 25,000 motorsports entrepreneurs each month.

The annual PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis features exhibits of hardcore racing components and precision machining equipment from over 1,100 racing companies, and is attended by 38,000 buyers from across the US, and 72 countries. Attending buyers represent racing retail stores, race engine builders, motorsports WDs, motorsports engineers, professional race teams, race car builders and others.

The trade show serves to provide a marketing focal point for all forms of car racing, including stock cars, drag racing, open wheel, sports cars, off-road and other racing niches.

Kilroy holds a BA in Communications from California State University at Fullerton. He began his career as a newspaper reporter for the Daily News Tribune.

Jon Wyly, Chief Executive Officer, SEMA Data Co-op


Jon Wyly, SEMA Chief Executive Officer, SEMA Data Co-opJon
Wyly was named Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed SEMA Data Cooperative
in March of 2012. His career in the specialty parts marketplace spans 30 years
and has included key roles in sales, marketing, e-commerce, business technology
and data management. A lifelong automotive enthusiast, he is well known to the
specialty parts industry.

His background includes 25 years at Arrow Speed Warehouse, which he joined
immediately after earning a BS in Economics at Oklahoma State University in
1983. There he worked his way up through the ranks of sales, operations and
marketing, ending as Executive Vice President. More recently, he served as Vice
President of e-Commerce at Keystone Automotive.

Wyly’s broad experience in specialty parts and data management applications has
given him exceptional insight into how sales can be driven by accurate,
standardized data. Wyly co-founded the SEMA Business Technology Committee and
served in numerous SEMA task forces and work groups, including 6 years on the
SEMA Board of Directors. In addition, he was recognized for his contribution to
the aftermarket in 2005, when he was named SEMA Person of the Year.

His long-term goals are to establish the SEMA Data Coop as the predominant
central repository for clean, standardized product data for the specialty parts
aftermarket, and to develop intuitive applications to disseminate and display
product information to all users.


George Afremow, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

  George Afremow, Vice President, CFO

George Afremow assumed the position of VP/CFO at SEMA in January 2012.

George brings to SEMA a cross functional (Operational, Accounting/Finance & Technology) background to provide the experience, structure and methodology to manage complex business initiatives and support the association’s strategic business objectives. In his role as VP/CFO, Afremow is responsible for overseeing day-to-day accounting, HR and administrative activities for the association.

Prior to joining SEMA, George was the Southern California practice leader of Business Performance Improvement initiatives for Grant Thornton LLP, the 5th largest public accounting and consulting firm. George’s areas of expertise include finance function transformation, operational efficiency enhancement, streamlining and automating accounting, finance and operational processes.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Afremow held several industry leadership and consulting positions. He’s served as a part-time graduate school professor of Project Management with the University of Southern California, as a Site Leader with PerkinElmer Life Sciences, a global technology leader in the life and analytical sciences, and board member and President of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Beach Cities Chapter.

George received his BA in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from the University of Southern California, where he graduated as a member of the international honor society Beta Gamma Sigma.

Nathan Ridnouer, VP, Councils and Membership

  Nathan Ridnouer, SEMA VP, Councils and Membership

Nathan Ridnouer is a 21-year trade association professional and currently
the VP of Councils and Membership. In this role, he oversees the strategic
direction of the organization’s volunteer groups and services to the broad
membership base, including Education, Market Research and the association’s
member discount programs.

Ridnouer joined the SEMA staff in 2008 as the Senior Director of Member
Services after six years with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). In
that role, he was responsible for coordinating the organization’s educational
priorities, including the seminar program at the annual SEMA Show, webinar
schedule and programming created to help students prepare and transition into
the specialty equipment market.

Over his career, Ridnouer has significant experience working with volunteers
and groups to coordinate the successful completion and strategic direction of
association initiatives. Ridnouer thrives in working with the volunteer
leadership to help address industry challenges and member needs and recognize
the importance of keeping close ties to the core membership that guides our

Ridnouer holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from George
Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

John Waraniak, Vice President of Vehicle Technology

John Waraniak, Vice President of Vehicle TechnologyJohn Waraniak has been vice president of Vehicle Technology at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) since May 2006. In this role, Waraniak helps automotive aftermarket companies understand vehicle technology challenges, develop solutions and capitalize on new business opportunities presented by complex systems and new technologies - whether it's vehicle dynamics, green performance or autonomous driving.

With more than 25 years of hands-on experience working for automotive, motorsports, aerospace and consumer products companies, Waraniak is an expert in vehicle systems engineering, motorsports program management and lean product development. He serves as an advocate for SEMA members, often collaborating with automakers and suppliers for performance product development and systems integration opportunities. With today's vehicles being controlled and monitored by more than 60 microprocessors and 50 million lines of code, Waraniak utilizes his background in engineering and racing to aid automotive parts manufacturers with changing technologies. He developed and leads the SEMA Vehicle Dynamics Program, which focuses on vehicle dynamics performance and Electronic Stability Control compliance of aftermarket-modified vehicles to help SEMA members adapt to federal regulations and safety standards.

Prior to joining SEMA, Waraniak held executive management positions with global and entrepreneurial companies, including TATA Motors, Johnson Controls, General Motors, Hughes Aircraft, Northrop and No Fear, of which he was part owner. In addition to helping these companies in lean product-process development, innovative customer-centric growth and improved profitability, Waraniak led the transfer of technology from Hughes Aircraft to General Motors, engineered soapbox racers, winning motorsports programs and B-2 stealth bomber airframes.

Waraniak earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He has a master's degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in engineering management from West Coast University. He also graduated from the California Institute of Technology's Executive Engineering Management Program.

Born in the Motor City of Detroit, Michigan in 1955, Waraniak is an avid auto industry, action sports and motocross enthusiast. He has a 2015 Toyota TRD Pro Series 4Runner on the way and his daily driver is a 2008 Chevy Tahoe that has been customized with a lift kit, larger wheels and tires and an upgraded audio system. His dream car is an Acura NSX. He lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan with his wife Terri and has two sons, Scott and Jeff.

Alise Miner, Vice President of Internal Systems & Project Teams

Alise Miner joined SEMA in 2005 as the VP of Information Technology. In that role, Miner was responsible for the association’s internal IT infrastructure and worked with outside partners and members on key Business Technology initiatives.

She was instrumental in moving the association’s internal data management program forward, as well as in establishing industry-wide data standards. Her contributions to the association were so significant that within just two years, she was asked to spearhead SEMA’s internal systems and projects team. This newly established role is geared toward improving internal efficiencies and standardizing procedures including Lean Office and ISO certification.

With a strong background in project management, sales, marketing and more than 10 years dedicated specifically to the automotive aftermarket industry, Miner continues to be hands on with the association’s information technology needs. She also remains actively involved with the SEMA Business Technology Committee, putting her knowledge of and experience in the distribution supply chain to use.

Steve McDonald, Vice President of Government Affairs

As Vice President of Government Affairs for SEMA, Steve McDonald is the chief association advocate on legislative and regulatory issues at state and federal levels that impact $38 billion specialty automotive industry. Over the past 10 years, he has played a primary role in promoting and expanding SEMA’s government and regulatory affairs missions. His experience in advocacy programs and the development of model policies for state and federal applications have greatly contributed to the success of SEMA’s government relations program.

McDonald has over 20 years experience serving in various government affairs positions. Prior to joining SEMA in 1997, McDonald was a government affairs consultant for the Redding Firm, where he helped serve the advocacy needs for a divergent client list. While in this role, he consulted on matters relating to client interest on federal and state legislative and regulatory matters, influenced formulation and implementation of policy positions and coordinated public relations campaigns.

A former U.S. Department of State staffer, he served as a legislative assistant for a prominent Washington D.C.-based law firm, where he helped represent the Automotive Service Association, among other trade associations and business groups.

Growing up in Europe, McDonald became a Formula 1 racing fan at an early age and still counts meeting Scottish racing legend Jackie Stewart among his fondest memories.

McDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in government and politics and from the University of Maryland.


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