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Speakers NEW 2023


Trauger_SmallJoe Trauger is NCA’s president & CEO and an experienced government relations professional with numerous legislative and regulatory successes on Capitol Hill. Trauger brings extensive experience and respect as an association executive with tremendous knowledge of the issues facing clubs today. He has a unique perspective into the private club industry as former president and current board member of Mount Vernon Country Club (an NCA member club) in Alexandria, Va.

He previously was principal and founder of Northfield Strategies, an advocacy consulting firm. Prior to Northfield, Trauger was senior vice president of policy and government relations at the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, and vice president of government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers. His Capitol Hill experience includes positions as senior policy advisor for then-House Majority Whip Roy Blunt; policy advisor for then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey; senior legislative assistant for former Congressman Sam Johnson; and legislative assistant for former Senator Rod Grams.

Trauger is a competitive golfer, frequently playing in (and winning) charity and purse tournaments, and modestly boasts a single-digit handicap.

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Trauger_SmallHenry B. DeLozier is a partner at GGA Partners and one of the leading authorities on golf course asset development and financing. DeLozier joined GGA Partners after nine years as vice president, golf, with Pulte Homes—the largest developer of golf course communities in the U.S.—where he developed 27 golf courses in 10 states and was responsible for the operation of more than 20 golf courses. He is recognized by Golf Inc. magazine as one of the “Most Influential People in Golf.”

He is a past president of the board of directors of the National Golf Course Owners Association and serves on the Employers Advisory Council for the PGA of America. He is a frequent expert source to U.S. and international media on golf-related resort and residential investment and development and social and economic trends affecting the golf business. DeLozier holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Oklahoma State University.

Robert L. Smith, II is a political operative who originally hails from Oklahoma but now splits his time between Oxford, Miss., and Washington, D.C., Rob Smith represents a diverse client base, including the defense, healthcare, tribal issues, environmental, financial services and transportation sectors.

Rob began his career on Capitol Hill as military legislative aide to House Armed Services Committee Member, Congressman Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), where he worked on defense procurement and military construction issues. He later went on to serve as legislative director for Congressman Wes Watkins (R-Okla.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, where he focused on trade and tax issues.

Upon leaving the Hill, Rob joined Sun Microsystems, where he represented the company on numerous legislative and regulatory matters, including domestic and international tax, broadband, employee compensation and benefits and accounting and export controls.

Throughout his time in Washington, D.C., Rob has remained politically active. In 2004 and 2008, he served as a professional volunteer in the Official Proceedings Division of the Republican National Committee. In that role, he was responsible for the logistics and hospitality of more than 20 members of Congress and VIPs. Additionally, he serves on the steering and finance committees for many elected officials and on the Board of Directors of the National Club Association.

Rob earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.

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Joel White Joel White is president of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, a role he has held since 2008.

Founded in 2001, CAHC is a non-profit advocacy alliance of the nation’s largest employers, drug manufacturers, health insurers and patient organizations with a singular focus: bringing down the cost of health care so every American has access to affordable health coverage. CAHC has helped advocate for more than a dozen laws since Joel took the helm, lower costs and expanding health coverage options for all Americans.
Prior to CAHC, Joel spent 12 years on Capitol Hill as professional staff, most recently as staff director of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, where he helped enact nine laws, including the:

  • 2002 Trade Act, which created health care tax credits.
  • 2003 law that established the Medicare prescription drug benefit and HSAs.
  • 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.
  • 2006 Tax Reform and Health Care Act, which reformed Medicare payment policies.

He is co-author of Facts and Figures on Government Finance (1992), which brings together data on public finance at all levels of government, with comparisons of taxing and spending levels spanning a half century. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the American University and lives in Virginia with his wife and three sons.

Jim Butler Dr. James Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Club Benchmarking.

Jim Butler brings a unique perspective to his leadership role at Club Benchmarking. He earned a PhD in Hospitality from Iowa State University for his research on member loyalty and attachment. In addition, he holds an MBA in Real Estate Development & Finance, a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and a Turfgrass degree. Jim has a wealth of operational experience and a proven track record in real estate sales and capital improvement and renovation in gated communities. He is a recognized leader in data science and academic research and a highly sought educator and public speaker. A native of Michigan, Jim and his wife Ruby call Estero, Florida home.

Jeff Cheney
Jeff Cheney, Mayor, Frisco, Texas.

Native Texan Jeff Cheney was elected Mayor of Frisco, Texas, in May 2017, and reelected in November 2020. Previously, he served on Frisco City Council from 2007 to 2016. Since Mayor Cheney has taken office, Frisco has been recognized as: #1 Safest City in America (SmartAsset, 2022 and 2023); #1 Fastest Growing City in the U.S. over the last decade (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020); #1 Best Place to Live in America (Money Magazine, 2018); #1 Most Recession-Resistant City (SmartAsset, 2020); and #1 City for Highest Job Growth (WalletHub, 2019).

Mayor Cheney and the Frisco City Council are making progress on public-private partnerships including: Omni PGA Frisco Resort; Fields; University of North Texas – Frisco Campus; the Performing Arts Center at Hall Park. Mayor Cheney and the council are also committed to making progress on city projects including: downtown redevelopment, the ‘new’ Frisco Public Library and Grand Park.

Mayor Cheney attended the University of Texas-Austin where he was recognized with Highest Honors for his Bachelors and Masters in Accounting. Professionally, Mayor Cheney has earned the distinctions of Certified Public Accountant and Registered Financial Advisor.

Mayor Cheney and his wife, Dana, co-founded The Cheney Group, a top-rated residential realty firm in Frisco, under the umbrella of Monument Realty. The Cheney Group was recognized as the Frisco Small Business of the Year in 2015 and Frisco Employer of the Year in 2021. The Cheneys also own Ignyte Yoga Studio in Frisco.

Jeff and Dana Cheney were married in 2001 and have been blessed with three children: Zach, Mason and Kaytlin. Mayor Cheney enjoys living in Sports City USA, the home of several professional sports teams. He’s an avid golfer, weekend warrior and loves watching his kids play sports, too.

Jeff Bennett Bennett Global Group, LLC was founded by Jeff Bennett to enable him to share his experiences and network with like minded Entrepreneurs, Investors and Companies to enable business acceleration.

Jeff received the prestigious E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award, in recognition of his innovative leadership as Co-Founder and President of NameMedia. Jeff is also the recipient of the Boardroom Private Club President of the Year, for his strategic leadership as President of the Bald Peak Colony Club.

The areas of focus for Bennett Global engagements have been on:

  • Business strategy
  • Team and culture building
  • Domains that match business function
  • Alliances driving business acceleration
  • Executing on deals for liquidity

Jeff has built an amazing global network of Entrepreneurs, Executives, Investors, and Industry Experts in his career, and shares all of this with his clients in Bennett Global engagements.

Malcolm MacColl
Malcolm MacColl, Immediate Past President, National Club Association, and Board Member, The Windsor Club.

As part of the 2023 National Club Conference, the National Club Association (NCA) named Malcolm MacColl, resident member of the Windsor Club, Vero Beach Fla., to the position of NCA Chair. MacColl is a retired financial services executive and former board president at The Westmoor Club, Nantucket, Mass. He was a partner at Brown Investment Advisory; founder & CEO of Crosswind Investments LLC, and co-CEO of Essex Investment Management, all in the Boston area. He began his career at the First Boston Corporation, where he worked for 18 years.

MacColl is longtime club member and currently a member of The Country Club, Brookline, Mass.; The Bald Peak Colony Club, Moultonborough, N.H.; Redstick Golf Club, Vero Beach, Fla. and Windsor Club.

MacColl has served on the NCA board since 2016 and as treasurer from 2017-2022 During his time as treasurer, NCA developed its strongest financial standing in memory.

Cameron Dawson

Cameron Dawson, CFA, Chief Investment Officer, NewEdge Wealth.

As chief investment officer, Cameron Dawson helps lead the development of NewEdge Wealth’s investment themes, strategies and market views, while also working closely with the firm’s advisors and clients.Prior to joining NewEdge Wealth, Cameron was the chief market strategist at Fieldpoint Private Securities and a senior equity analyst at Bank of America. Throughout her career, she has developed extensive experience in macroeconomics and implementing forward-thinking investment themes and asset allocation strategies. She is widely known for her differentiated and thoughtful financial commentary and frequently appears on Bloomberg, CNBC, and Fox Business, among many others. Additionally, Cameron is a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) and a former board member of the CFA Society® of Orlando.A Florida native, Cameron earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA from Rollins College in Orlando.

Seth Waugh

Seth Waugh, former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, joined the PGA of America as chief executive officer in September 2018. He guides the business and overall strategy of one of the world’s largest sports organizations, serving the association’s nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals.

He spent 13 years at Deutsche Bank, including 10 years as CEO of the Americas, overseeing an unprecedented time of growth for the bank in the region. He also served as Chairman of the Deutsche Bank Americas Advisory Board, an external strategic advisory team conceived under his leadership. During this time, he worked with the PGA TOUR to create the former Deutsche Bank Championship (now the Dell Technologies Championship) in Boston. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, He was CEO of Quantitative Financial Strategies (QFS). He also spent 11 years in various leadership roles at Merrill Lynch.

Seth sits on the Board of Franklin Templeton Advisors and the Advisory Board of Workday, Inc. His philanthropic endeavors have included serving on the boards of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation; YMCA of Greater New York; Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater New York; Executive Committee of Partnership for New York City; St. Vincent’s Services of Brooklyn; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; and Harlem Village Academies, as well as serving as president of the board of the Lawrenceville School, and trustee at Wake Forest University. For several years, he championed the Women on Wall Street Conference.

Seth holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from Amherst College, and lives with his wife in North Palm Beach, Florida. Together, they have five children.

Kelly Merbler is an award-winning speaker, executive coach and the founding principal of The Kelly Merbler Company, a leadership consulting firm specializing in strengths-based employee engagement and retention programs, leadership development and culture building.

Kelly believes everyone has the ability to be an inspired and transformational leader who empowers others to rise to their greatest potential. She sparks organizations, leaders and teams to find their passion and purpose by operating in their strengths leading to more fulfilling personal and professional lives.

Twenty-one years as a regional executive with a global staffing organization taught Kelly that the secret to success is not just hiring the right talent but activating that talent by identifying what people do best and aligning them in the right role for maximum impact. Following the loss of her mother to dementia in 2014, Kelly discovered her passion for helping others discover their purpose when she attended a leadership conference where her now-mentor, Dr. John C. Maxwell, was the keynote speaker. Since then, she has become a Gallup-certified strengths coach and faculty member for Maxwell Leadership.

Kelly’s client list includes UKG, Memorial Healthcare System, Texas Payroll Association, Waste Management, The Ritz-Carlton, Converse, ChenMed and HR Florida among many others.

Kelly received her undergraduate degree in business and corporate communications from the University of Central Florida.

Jin-Ya Huang is the founder of Break Bread, Break Borders (B4), empowering immigrants and refugees through food and culture in Dallas. Descended from Chinese refugees who took refuge in Taiwan, Jin-Ya and her five sisters grew up in a family falling deeper into poverty in Taiwan, when relatives called: They were building a Chinese fast-food restaurant in Tulsa, Okla., and needed help. The family moved halfway around the world, and after the company franchised its sixteenth restaurant, bought one of their own in Dallas. Jin-Ya’s mother, a chef, transformed the lives of other immigrants, refugees and migrants by training them in her restaurant kitchen and graduating them to bigger opportunities.

When Jin-Ya’s mother passed away of cancer, Jin-Ya decided to turn her grief into action and founded B4. She is an accomplished artist making social practice art—art that makes a difference. B4 started out as a community art project and turned into a social enterprise, empowering refugee women economically through the storytelling of food and culture. As an immigrant female entrepreneur, Jin-Ya’s expertise in the sustainable global supply chain and more than a decade working in marketing for the Fossil Group, JCPenney and Neiman Marcus helped launched the business.

Scott Dunn

Scott Dunn is a security industry veteran of 28 years, has been on the Axis Management team since 2009 and recently moved to take over responsibilities for future business strategies and M&A activities for Axis Americas.

He continues leading Axis Americas Industry Relations and Government Policy efforts and has been elected chair of the SIA Board of Directors starting April 2024. He is also a board member for Zero Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving school safety and security practices and policies.

Scott is a longstanding member of the executive advisory board for the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). The center is part of the University of Southern Mississippi and works closely with the major sports leagues, NCAA, FIFA, PGA and Homeland Security.  In 2020, he was recognized as Sports Security Innovator of the Year by SIA and NCS4.

Previously, he managed multiple business development programs such as Global System Integrators, specifying consultants, technology partners, technical services, professional services and end-to-end security solutions.

Scott has written many security related articles for best practices and future technology trends outlook for various publications and is a sought-after speaker/expert panelist at many industry events such as GSX, ISC West and Securing New Ground. He will be a featured speaker at the National Spectator Sports Security Conference in July.

Michael Muser

Michael Scimo served a two-year term as President of Medinah Country Club in 2018 and was named The BoardRoom’s Distinguished Club President for 2018. At Medinah, Michael led the Medinah 2020 project, a 10-year, $47 million strategic transformation. Initiated in response to declining membership levels and the challenging market for private clubs, the project involved comprehensive changes to Medinah’s club governance, membership development and capital planning.

Outside of Medinah, Michael retired in October 2015 after more than 30 years with Accenture, a $40 billion global professional services company. His most recent position was global managing director, where he served on the company’s Global Leadership Council.

He is a board member of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a non-profit that annually provides employment opportunities to more than 1,200 Chicagoans who have struggled to re-enter the work force after long periods of unemployment. Michael is a Board of Trustees member of Bradley University, his undergraduate alma mater and was named Bradley’s Distinguished Alumni of the year in 2016. Michael holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and has served on the club’s Civic Committee. Michael has also served on the boards of Junior Achievement, the Civic Consulting Alliance and the Accenture Foundation.

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NicholasSchreiberNick Schreiber is the founder and owner of Old Barnwell, a golf club under construction near Aiken, S.C., with a mission to bring people together through golf.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Schreiber was introduced to golf by caddying at venerable clubs like Onwentsia, Old Elm and Shoreacres. Though never a great player, he developed a keen interest in golf course architecture in recent years, and his hope is to bring an exceptional golf experience to a wider array of members while simultaneously supporting aspiring female pros, students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the communities surrounding Old Barnwell.

He currently resides outside of Charleston, S.C. with his wife, Sarah, and two sons.

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Winners of the 2024 Excellence in Club Management® Awards Speaker Panel

Mark Snure ECM

Mark Snure began his career in 1982 with a 13-year run with Club Corporation of America. His experiences with ClubCorp taught him to be an efficient business manager and gave him a comprehensive understanding of private clubs. After Club Corp, he worked at Gulfstream Golf Club in Delray Beach, Fla.; International Country Club in Fairfax, Va.; and has been general manager of Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Fla., for the last 16 years. In those 16 years, Mark has managed $275 million in gross revenues and completed $70 million in capital projects. The club now has a $22 million project in the works to build a tennis center, parking garage and new golf learning and simulator facility. Since Mark’s hire in 2007, the club’s gross revenues have grown from $11 million to $36 million annually. Riviera continues to be the top country club in Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Mark’s hobbies over the years have been golf and sporting events. Along with his wife of 42 years, Leigh Anne, and son Brandon, they spend time at New Smyrna Beach and in the Florida Keys. Also, Mark has spent untold hours looking out for the personal well-being of his staff, friends and members over the years. Mark has an agreement to stay at Riviera for the next four years at which point he will be 70 years old.


Steven Freund has devoted his 48-year career to hotels, resorts, restaurants and now, private clubs. He spent 20 years as an executive with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, serving as general manager at several locations before opening The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Lake Oconee in 2001. He successfully opened and established The Lodge as one of the top golf destinations in the world. During his tenure with The Ritz-Carlton, he served in six AAA five-diamond properties and two Mobil (now Forbes) five-star hotels. He was also involved in opening numerous hotels in Asia and North America as well as a certified presenter for the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. In 2010, he was named executive director of The Landings Golf & Athletic Club in Savannah. There, he leads a club of more than 3,400 membership households and 550 staff, with six championship golf courses, 30 tennis courts, 15 pickleball courts, 10 dining venues, five pools, and a 52,000-square-foot wellness center. The Landings Golf & Athletic Club is recognized by BoardRoom Magazine as one of America’s Distinguished Clubs, reaching Emerald status, ranking among the top private clubs in the United States.

2024 Charles Johnson, CCM, ECM

Charles C. Johnson has served as executive manager of the Detroit Athletic Club since 2020; the title of chief executive officer was added in 2022. He served as the club’s assistant general manager from 2014 to 2020. His career includes positions across the country including John’s Island Club (Vero Beach, Fla.), Saucon Valley Country Club (Bethlehem, Pa.), and Montauk Yacht Club (Montauk, N.Y.).

Charles is an alumnus of Central Michigan University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and organizational administration. In 2022, he earned an MBA from the Executive MBA Program of Michigan State University, where he was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

An active member of the Club Managers Association of America, currently serving as president for its Greater Michigan chapter and as a director for the national chapter, Charles attained CMAA’s Certified Club Manager designation in 2016. That same year, he received the Rising Star Award for Excellence in Club Management.

He is a resident of Clarkston, Mich., where he lives with his wife and three children. His dedication to the well-being of the city of Detroit and the region is evidenced by his participation in various organizations, and his efforts to preserve and celebrate the 137-year old Detroit Athletic Club, its Albert Kahn-designed clubhouse, and its role as an anchor institution in the city’s history and its future.

Panel Featuring the Winners of the 2024 Excellence in Club Management Awards

Education Session Topics

Fireside Chat with The Professional Golfers’ Association of America
Seth Waugh, CEO, PGA of America
Seth Waugh will join NCA president & CEO Joe Trauger for a wide-ranging conversation. Attendees will hear from Seth on the PGA, golf and growing the game, business, moving the PGA of America headquarters to the new site in Frisco, Texas and much more.

National Club Association Annual Meeting of the Membership
Joe Trauger, President & CEO, National Club Association 

  • Jeff Bennett, President, Bald Peak Colony Club
  • Malcolm MacColl, Immediate Past President, National Club Association, and Board Member, The Windsor Club 

Employee Retention and Cultivation
Kelly Merbler, Principal, The Kelly Merbler Company
“Cracking the Culture Code” stresses the necessity of fostering a club culture anchored in core values. It underscores leaders’ critical role in shaping culture to attract and retain talent while boosting member satisfaction. The session provides insights and examples of building unity, enhancing communication between governance, senior leadership and the broader operations team. We will also address the importance of understanding and effectively connecting with the next generation of club leaders, working with purpose and aligning team efforts with the overarching mission of the club.

Building a Culture of Belonging: The Welcoming Club Experience
Jin-Ya Huang, Founder, Break Bread Break Borders

In this engaging and educational session, you will learn how to build a culture of belonging, whether you are looking to advance your team or to engage membership. We will cover optimizing your conversations, networking effectively, and creating authentic connections. By the end of the workshop, you will have a deeper understanding of how to create a welcoming environment to achieve your relationships, goals, and beyond. Jin-Ya Huang will also share her journey of building her own belonging culture, which has resulted in landing impactful speaking opportunities, being invited to worldrenowned leadership programs, and celebrated as an award-winning bridgebuilder in the community.

Health Care Costs: Why Are The Going Up and What Can be Done?
Joel C. White, President, Council for Affordable Health Coverage

After a brief respite, the cost of health coverage has continued its ascent to ever higher levels with little sign of slowing. There are many factors that contribute to rising costs so it’s hard to know what we should do. Joel White, health care expert and President of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, will provide conference attendees the background they need to understand what’s happening, what Congress and the Administration are doing, and the policies we need to reduce the cost of coverage. 

Economic Factors Affecting Clubs and Members
Cameron Dawson, CIO, NewEdge Wealth

Understanding the external forces that can affect clubs is an important aspect of club leadership for board members and managers. Anticipating the potential impacts of interest rates, inflation, access to capital and the labor economy can keep us ahead of the curve. NewEdge Wealth CIO Cameron Dawson will provide insights on what the macro-economic trends point to for the months ahead.  

The Economics of Private Clubs in the US
Dr. James Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Club Benchmarking

Jim Butler, CEO of Club Benchmarking, will present the findings of a new economic impact study jointly commissioned by Club Benchmarking, Club Management Association of America, and the National Club Association. Perhaps the most comprehensive study ever conducted on private clubs, it will provide a clearer picture of how many private clubs exist, how many people they employ, the impact they have on local, state and national economies, and much more.

Protection Technologies: Securing Clubs with Minimal Disruption
Scott Dunn, Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives/Business Development, Axis Communication

The presentation will cover security and safety considerations for various types of club environments, including how new technologies can assist club leadership and staff to provide a safer more secure space while minimizing the impact to the member and guest experience. Security and safety involve many facets, from parking lots to retail and dining spaces. How can we look to technology to help provide a safe yet unobtrusive experience for all? Attendees will learn new ways of accomplishing this sometimes challenging mission. 

NCA Government Relations Update
Moderator: Christopher Wyles CCE, CCM, ECM, General Manager/COO, Bald Peak Colony Club
Panelists:  Rob Smith II, Senior Vice President, Platinum Advisors 
Joe Trauger, President & CEO, National Club Association
What is going on in Washington? Senior Vice President of Platinum Advisors Rob Smith, will join NCA’s President & CEO Joe Trauger on stage to discuss policy and politics. They will provide an inside perspective on legislation and regulations affecting the private club community and beyond.