GAWDA Connection

AWS Announces New Executive Director & CEO Gary Konarska

The American Welding Society’s (AWS) Board of Directors have announced that Gary Konarska II is named the organization’s new Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective April 6, 2020. Konarska succeeds Ray Shook, who held the position for 15 years and has agreed to remain as Executive Director Emeritus for an interim period to ensure a seamless and successful transition.

“We are very excited to welcome Gary to the American Welding Society taking on the role of Executive Director and CEO. Gary brings an exceptional combination of industry knowledge, energy, and proven leadership that make him the ideal leader for AWS. We’re confident that Gary will continue to advance the AWS mission and strive to connect welding communities around the world,” said AWS President, Robert W. Roth.

“I am truly honored and excited to serve as AWS’s Executive Director and CEO,” said Konarska. “I look forward to working closely with the AWS Board of Directors, staff, and Ray Shook to ensure a seamless transition in order to continue to serve our Society and industry at large.”

The selection of Konarska underscores the AWS Board of Directors’ commitment to invest in and support the needs of members as we experience rapid industry advancements. Konarska brings 20 years of experience in the welding and cutting equipment industry, where he worked with Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio. Most recently, Konarska served as Vice President, Global Automation, where he was responsible for 13 automation sites around the world and created business systems to drive metrics and continuous improvement. Throughout his tenure at Lincoln, he focused on international business and sales, strategic planning, and fostered collaboration and relationships among teams.

Konarska spent time living and working in Singapore with The Lincoln Electric Company (Asia Pacific) PTE Ltd., as Managing Director for Southeast Asia, South Korea, and Taiwan. He was responsible for all commercial activities in the region, as well as a welding consumable manufacturing plant in Indonesia. Prior to this role, he was based in Shanghai, China, as Director of Business Development, where he led core business functions including export and import sales, a robotic automation P&L, product management, marketing communications, service, and a welding technology center. He started his career as a Technical Sales Representative in Seattle, WA, and then Tampa, FL.

Konarska earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Florida. He is a graduate of the inaugural Lincoln Electric Global Leadership Program.

About AWS

The American Welding Society (AWS) was founded in 1919 as a multifaceted, nonprofit organization with a mission to advance the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes worldwide, including brazing, soldering, and thermal spraying. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, and led by a volunteer organization of officers and directors, AWS serves nearly 70,000 members worldwide and is composed of 22 Districts with 250 Sections and Student chapters. For more information, visit the Society’s website at



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