Ralph Nappi

Industry Advocate

Ralph Nappi

Industry Advocate

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. --Henry Ford

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 1981 with a BA in Communications Arts, Nappi began his 35-year association career with one of the ten largest association management companies in the country, Bell PubliCom, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio. In 1984, Nappi’s primary association, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), moved to Washington, DC to focus on the growing legislative and regulatory issues impacting their industry. NACD contracted with a new DC-based association management company and requested that Nappi manage them out of the offices in downtown Washington, DC.

In 1986, Nappi moved to the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (AMTDA), opting to focus his attention on a single association and industry. His first job at AMTDA was Director of Education and Communication. In 1991, he was promoted to Vice President, the first VP in the association’s then 75-year history. Then in 1993, at age 34, he was named President. Nappi served AMTDA as president until 2005 when he was recruited by NPES – The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, to serve as their president until his retirement in July of 2016. In addition to his role at NPES, Nappi also served as president of the Graphic Arts Show Company and the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation, all headquartered at NPES in Reston, Va. In addition to leading the graphic communication industry’s largest show, Nappi managed the association’s thriving international presence through association offices in Shanghai, Delhi, Moscow, Sao Paulo and Jakarta.

Throughout his association career, Nappi has served in leadership roles for several industry and professional associations including the American Society of Association Executives, the Center for Association Leadership, the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the Small Business Legislative Council and the National Association of Manufacturers Council of Manufacturing Associations. Nappi was also a member of the US Chamber of Commerce “Committee of 100” from 1999 until his retirement in 2016.

Since his retirement, Nappi maintains a small “friends and family” consulting business from his home in Tysons, VA. He currently serves on several corporate and advisory boards including Cincinnati based Gardner Business Media. He has worked with dozens of associations and businesses in various leadership and management capacities including facilitation, CEO coaching and strategic planning.

Nappi and his wife Karen have four children and five grandchildren. He enjoys tennis, golf, softball, basketball, skiing, scuba diving and other active pursuits that make his knees hurt.

Career Inspiration

Bob Gale was president of American Machine Tool Distributors Association and hired me in 1986 to serve as his Director of Education and Communication. He was very supportive and opened many doors for me to grow and learn in the machine tool industry which eventually allowed me to follow him as AMTDA's third president. If not for him, my 20+ year career in the machine tool industry would not have happened.

I also credit Al and Pat Moore for their support and partnership between AMT and AMTDA. In Al's role leading AMT, he recognized the importance of a symbiotic relationship between distributors and builders and our respective associations. He lead by example and because of him our associations did great things together.


Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, 1981, University of Dayton

Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives, 1991


Carl Henry’s workshops and seminars


The Chesapeake Group


Lee Morris