About The NNA


Our Management Team

Milton G. Valera, Chairman

Valera has led the Association since 1982 when he became President and CEO of what is today the largest and most respected organization serving U.S. Notaries. In his more than four decades at the NNA, Valera has overseen all of the Association’s major programs that now define the arena of Notary education and support services. Among his greatest achievements is the creation of two influential landmark sets of standards for Notaries: The Model Notary Act of 1984, 2002 and 2010, and their predecessor, The Uniform Notary Act of 1973, and The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility. Valera was also the founding Editor and Publisher of the Association’s two flagship member publications – The National Notary magazine and the Notary Bulletin newsletter. In his current role as Chairman, Valera focuses on long-term strategies and governance issues for the Association and all of its service entities. He also serves as President of the NNA’s philanthropic arm, the National Notary Foundation. Before his career with the NNA, Valera worked as a newspaper editor, as well as in marketing and public relations. He earned an Associate in Arts Degree, Journalism, from Los Angeles City College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Journalism, from California State University, Northridge.

Thomas A. Heymann, President And Chief Executive Officer
Heymann oversees the NNA with an acute focus on strengthening the Association’s educational, service and support programs for the nation’s Notaries, and employers of Notaries. Heymann brings to the Association more than 34 years of experience in executive management and corporate governance in operationally complex, service intensive environments spanning a variety of industries, including education, retail, technology and restaurant. In education he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Knowledge Learning Corporation, the nation’s largest private provider of early education. In retail, Heymann served as President of Disney Stores, Inc., which included their global presence in retail, online and catalog enterprises. In technology, he currently serves as the Presiding Member of EveryPenny, LLC., and has served on the boards of several public technology companies, including MP3.com, Loudeye Technologies, Atari and Tickets.com. Additionally, he was the managing director and co-founder of venture capital firm Digital Coast Ventures. In the restaurant industry, he was co-founder and President of Levy Restaurants and, most recently, CEO of Mastro’s Restaurants, LLC. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Northwestern University.

Deborah M. Thaw, Executive Vice President

Deborah M. Thaw, Executive Vice President
Thaw has been an integral part of the growth and development of the National Notary Association for over three decades. Her service as the NNA’s Executive Director spanned 23 years before she was elevated to Executive Vice President. She has also served as Executive Director of the National Notary Foundation since 1997. Thaw represented the NNA on several state task forces and contributed significantly to the landmark Model Notary Acts and The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility. Prior to joining the NNA, Thaw was a reporter and editor for newspapers in Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, and also did radio broadcast work. She earned bachelor of arts degrees in English and journalism from Syracuse University.

Rob Clarke, Chief Financial Officer
Rob Clarke handles all facets of financial reporting and analysis as well as cash management activities at the Association. He has several decades' experience in the world of finance and prior to joining the NNA served as Vice President of Finance, Financial Planning and Analysis for Andrews International, the nation’s largest private security firm with $400 million in annual sales. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and management information systems from California State University, Northridge, and is a CPA.

Ronald Johnson, Senior Vice President, Systems and Operation
Johnson is responsible for the NNA’s customer support functions, including the call center, order processing, order fulfillment, shipping and all IT systems and functions. A seasoned executive with a proven track record for implementing and streamlining technology solutions, Johnson previously served on the executive team at Apple Inc. in the unit that developed the Macintosh computer, and as Chief Operation/Technical Officer at Kabbalah Centre International. Most recently he served as Director of Operations for a Telemedicine project for the Henry Ford Hospital. Born in London, Johnson earned a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of London, an MBA in Economics from the London School of Economics, and is currently working on his PhD in Organization and Management of Nonprofit Organizations.

Ellen J. Nichols, Vice President of Human Resources

Ellen Nichols oversees the NNA’s Human Resources division and is dedicated to creating a productive and engaging work environment through implementing effective HR strategies and processes, and fostering collaborative teams. With a career-long reputation of leadership in organizational performance, she came to the NNA in 2012 with her extensive background in customer service, leadership training, internal communications, recruitment, team building and professional development. Before joining the NNA, Ellen served as Vice President of Human Resources at both Paramount Pictures and NBC Universal. She also served as Director of Human Resources at The Disney Store and has additional HR experience in the healthcare and retail industries. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, French and Sociology from Northern Illinois University.

William A. Anderson, Vice President of Best Practices and eNotarization

William A. Anderson, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
William A. Anderson is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Notary best practices, procedures and ethics in the mortgage industry and the real estate closing process. As the NNA’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs, he identifies, analyzes and follows the scores of bills affecting the notarial profession which are considered each year by the nation’s state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Anderson also oversees Notary bond and insurance programs and the organization's efforts to promote, professionalize, and elevate the Notary Public office. An expert in Notary law and technology, corporate Notary policies and legislative issues, he has created curriculum and presented Notary education courses in nearly 40 U.S. states.

Thomas K. Hayden

Thomas K. Hayden, Vice President of Marketing
Hayden oversees all of the marketing activities for the Association, including strategic initiatives to grow membership. He brings to the NNA over 18 years of marketing and information technology experience with a proven ability to develop and to deliver strategic marketing and technology programs. Prior to the NNA, he was the Director of Marketing Systems for SAGE Publications, a global publisher of Society journals, textbooks, and databases. He has also managed marketing and marketing communication programs for information services, technology, and professional service businesses. Hayden holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and marketing from California State University Long Beach.

Chris Sturdivant, Director of Business Development
Chris Sturdivant joined the National Notary Association in 2011, having previously spent 13 years in the mortgage banking and financial industries. He works with corporate clients nationwide, including banks, hospitals, insurance brokerages and retail business service providers. His professional background includes management in both mortgage originations and specialty servicing with major banking organizations including CitiMortgage and Morgan Stanley. He currently oversees the NNA’s Trusted Notary Program which helps mortgage servicers achieve compliance with the OCC Uniform Servicing Standards and increases the professionalism of Notaries in the banking industry. Sturdivant is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Economics.

Kelli M. Barabasz, Director of Call Center Operations
Kelli Barabasz has more than 18 years of call center management involving both business-to-business and business-to-customer operations, and is responsible for the oversight of all Call Center Operations. Her experience includes both inbound and outbound operations, and she has managed multi-site operations both on and off shore. She has worked as a Director of Workforce management where she successfully, scheduled monitored and forecasted call volumes and staffing for 3,500 seats and 40 different clients. She is adept at building and managing peak-performance teams. Most recently Barabasz has held positions with SXC Health Solutions and QVC. She is CCC Certified (Call Center Consulting) and a member of various call center organizations including ICMI and the Worldwide Contact Center Professionals organization.

Steven Bastian, Vice President of Strategic Planning

Steven Bastian, Director of Product Development
Steven Bastian is an expert in Notary law and practice with 35 years of professional experience who has contributed significantly to shaping the National Notary Association’s strategic, education and member service initiatives. He is responsible for defining Notary standards of practice and setting learning objectives for the NNA’s education programs with particular emphasis on serving businesses that employ Notaries. Since joining the NNA in 1993, he has worked to develop a strong curriculum in notarial procedures, legal requirements and best practices. He has been instrumental in developing programs to help financial institutions comply with federal mandates and will continue in this role by supporting the NNA’s new Trusted Notary Program.

Phillip W. Browne, Communications Group Manager

Phillip Browne, Director of Communications
Phillip Browne oversees the Association’s communications programs, member publications, and social media initiatives with an acute focus on serving, supporting and advocating for Notaries everywhere. He brings to the NNA nearly 20 years of public communications experience with a proven track record of delivering vital news and information to the audiences he serves. An experienced, award-winning former editor and reporter for several daily newspapers and magazines in Southern California, Browne came to the NNA after serving as an Assistant Metro Editor for the Daily News of Los Angeles, and Editorial Director for Zone Communications Inc. At the NNA he is charged with crafting communications programs that reflect the growing importance of notarial standards and practices in strengthening the fabric of consumer protection. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton.

David Aguirre, Director, Warehouse Operations
David Aguirre oversees all logistics and supply chain activities for the Association including yearly conference, off-site storage and trade shows. David has over 25 years of logistics and warehousing experience in the retail and private sectors working for companies like Memorex, Targus, Magellan and North Supply where he implemented TQM, JIT, Six Sigma and Best Practice programs just to name a few. He is also APICS (American Production & Inventory Control Society) certified and earned his accreditations for Material Management, Supply Chain, Manufacturing and Transportation at California State University, Fullerton.


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