AKC Announces Promotion of Seven Staffers

New York, NY – American Kennel Club® President and CEO Dennis Sprung announced the...

New York, NY – American Kennel Club® President and CEO Dennis Sprung announced the promotions of seven key staff members at the June 13, 2006 Delegates meeting held in Raleigh, NC. Three individuals were promoted from Assistant Vice President (AVP) to Vice President, and four from Director to AVP, all in their respective areas. The promotions are effective immediately.

  • Darrell Hayes – Vice President, Dog Show Judges – Hayes grew up in the sport of purebred dogs as part of a family of Pekingese and Pomeranian breeders. He had a long career as a professional handler, exhibiting dogs in all seven groups.  Hayes joined the AKC in May of 1993 as an Executive Field Representative. Since then he has held the positions of Director of Judging Operations and AVP of Dog Show Judges. He oversees Judging Operations, Judges Education, Executive Field Representatives for Conformation Events and the Registered Handlers Program.

  • Bill Speck – Vice President, Performance Events – Speck first joined the AKC as a Performance Events Field Representative in 1993. In 1997, he became Assistant Director of Performance Events, and was soon promoted to AVP of Performance Events. A leading expert on Retrievers, Speck has been honored by the National Retriever Club (NRC) for his decades of service within the Retriever community.

  • Robin Stansell – Vice President, Event Operations – Stansell joined the AKC five years ago as a member of the Executive Field Staff and moved to Raleigh in 2003 to work in Event Operations. He started exhibiting Bulldogs in 1976 and his former military career allowed him to participate in shows and clubs throughout the U.S. and Europe.  Stansell held a variety of club officer positions in both specialty and all-breed clubs including President and Show Chair for all-breed and specialty shows.  He became an AKC-approved judge in 1990 and gained approval to judge the Non-Sporting Group, Toy Poodles, and Junior Showmanship prior to working at AKC. 

  • Curt Curtis – AVP, Companion Events -- Curtis joined the AKC in March 2005 with over 40 years' experience in AKC Companion Events as an exhibitor, Show/Trial Chairman and judge.  Curtis has also held various officer positions in numerous dog clubs. Prior to his career at the AKC, Curtis was a Sergeant with the Oregon State Police, where he managed the development of dispatch, clerical and administrative staff along with direct supervision of officers in the patrol, criminal and game divisions.

  • Steve Fielder – AVP, Coonhound Events -- A third generation purebred dog breeder and fancier, Fielder has been involved with Plotts for over 50 years.  He joined the AKC in 2004 and has since significantly enhanced the organization’s Coonhound event offerings and leadership among Coonhound enthusiasts.  Fielder has held numerous positions with United Kennel Club and the Professional Kennel Club and has edited two of the coonhound fancy’s top publications, Coonhound Bloodlines and Prohound. At the UKC he also held the positions of Vice President of Field Operations and Vice President of Public Relations.

  • Gina DiNardo Lash – AVP, Assistant Executive Secretary -- Lash has had life-long involvement with purebred dogs, growing up with Dobermans and Great Danes.  During her nine years with the AKC she has filled numerous roles including as Director of Club Communications.   She now assists the Executive Secretary with all communications and with the maintenance of all AKC policies and historical records.  She is also responsible for "AKC Meet the Breeds" at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and serves on the event’s Show Committee.

  • Daphna Straus – AVP, Business Development – Straus has been with the AKC for nearly four years. She initially worked as a project manager on DOGNY, the AKC’s public art initiative and fundraising tribute to search and rescue dogs. Straus comes from a career in market research and is now involved in all aspects of marketing, sponsorship and licensing for the AKC. She is active in Obedience with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Zabar.


“These dedicated individuals have nearly 250 years of combined experience in various aspects of our sport,” said Sprung.  "All are valued members of our organization and I am pleased to recognize their many contributions with these well-deserved promotions.”