Amid many changes for NAPA, Copeland becomes president, CEO

Updated Feb 4, 2019
Audrey Copeland says she’s humbled to serve as the third president in NAPA’s nearly 65-year history. Photo by Gary Fong/Genesis PhotosAudrey Copeland says she’s humbled to serve as the third president in NAPA’s nearly 65-year history. Photo by Gary Fong/Genesis Photos

Audrey Copeland is the new president and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association. She took the association’s helm January 22 during a ceremony at the NAPA’s 64th Annual Meeting.

“I’m honored and humbled to become only the third president and CEO in NAPA’s almost 65-year history,” Copeland, an engineer, told hundreds of NAPA members.

She succeeds Mike Acott, who had served NAPA’s president since 1992. Among her roles with NAPA, Copeland most recently served as chief operating officer, working closely with Acott to ensure an orderly transition.

In her address to NAPA members in Marco Island, Florida, Copeland pledged to continue their longstanding tradition of working to safeguard the asphalt industry, to strengthen alliances and collaborations, and to modernize the way the industry and the association do business.

“NAPA is in a position of strength and financially sound, having grown in membership and reputation over the past 30 years,” says Copeland. “We will continue to stay focused on delivering value to our members. Our willingness to take on challenges with integrity and a focus on collaboration will not change.”


Fostering NAPA’s engineering team, alliances

Copeland joined NAPA in 2012 as vice president for engineering, research and technology.

In that role, she has grown NAPA’s engineering team and forged strong relationships with the state asphalt pavement associations, Asphalt Pavement Alliance, National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University, the Asphalt Institute, Federal Highway Administration, and other industry professionals and partners.

Copeland also served as technical lead for more than $2 million in industry-funded research projects. She secured a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration that has invested more than $2 million in government funding to advance asphalt technologies.

She points out that NAPA is fortunate to have “a loyal membership base that dedicates their volunteer time, experience to a larger cause beyond their companies.”

And as outgoing President Mike Acott likes to say, according to Copeland: “You might be in competition with each other on a local basis, but you realize the importance of our industry and you come together.”

Thanks to Acott’s efforts over the years, “NAPA’s known for its credibility, and it has a dedicated staff known for expertise, especially in the technical and legislative areas,” she says.

“We have a very good grassroots network along with our state asphalt pavement associations. Whenever threats or issues arise, we’re able to mobilize very quickly. So we’ve never held back. Napa tackles the tough issues, and we’re able to harness the power of an aligned industry that seeks the truth.”

In addition to leadership changes and working toward a culture of excellence, NAPA has sold its building and is consolidating as it moves into a new, more technologically advanced office space that will enable the staff to better serve members. These changes will save the organization about $2.7 million over the 10-year lease period, Copeland estimates.

“What we want to do, ultimately, is we want to ensure that you thrive in a more performance-based world and a more automated world,” she told members.

The association is now ramping up efforts to tell the story and benefits of the asphalt industry, with a priority placed on the work of its communications team, Copeland says.


An FHWA engineering background

Before joining NAPA seven years ago, Copeland served as a highway and materials research engineer with the Federal Highway Administration.

She had become familiar with NAPA through various events, and making the switch to leave the federal government for a new position with the association was one of the best decision’s she’s ever made, says Copeland, adding that she’s “very happy” to be with NAPA.

She earned her doctorate in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University and holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Tennessee Technological University.

Copeland is a licensed professional engineer in Maryland and Virginia.