Professional Staff

Mark Compton, Executive Director

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Mark rejoined AEMA after serving six years as the Utah Mining Association’s (UMA) President. Having worked for AEMA, then known as the Northwest Mining Association, from 2008-2012 as the Government Affairs Manager, he already possesses an organic familiarity with the Association, its membership, and the issues.

Additionally, Mark possesses over a quarter century of government affairs experience. Prior to his tenure at UMA, he served as AEMA’s Government Affairs Manager and worked as a member of Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s gubernatorial and congressional staff, where he handled issues focusing on natural resources and economic development in northern Idaho.

He has a profound appreciation for the importance of responsible resource development to our economy and our way of life. He believes that by working together, AEMA and its members can ensure the U.S. mining industry remains strong and is able to produce the raw materials on which our modern society depends.

A graduate of the University of Montana, Mark lives with his wife Kelley on the outskirts of Coeur d'Alene, ID.


Sidney Smith, Governmental Affairs

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Sidney Smith joins AEMA after almost 17 years working in the United States Senate.  He began his career working for U.S. Senator Larry Craig in Washington, D.C., and spent more than a decade on the staff of U.S. Senator Jim Risch.  Sidney’s time with two Idaho members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee allowed him to build extensive experience in a variety of public lands and natural resource issues throughout Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.

A proud member of a rare species, Sidney is a born-and-bred Coeur d’Alene, Idaho native, with a deep appreciation for North Idaho’s foundational industries: logging and mining.  He graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1996, and Princeton University in 2000, with a bachelor’s degree in Politics.  He and his wife, Stacy, reside in Coeur d’Alene with their three sons.

Pat Heywood, Operations & Finance Director

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Pat joined the Association as its Financial Director on a full-time basis in February of 1997 after working on a contract basis since late 1995. Her responsibilities include accounting, financial reports and coordinating and executing all aspects of the Annual Meeting and Event planning. She also is responsible for the layout, design and printing of conference and advertising materials.

She has over 27 years of convention planning experience including running her own business, Convention Connections for 6 years. She worked regularly with groups such as the Institute of Shaft Drilling, Washington Builders Association, the USDA Forest Service, and the United Electrical Contractors Union.

In addition, she has more than forty-five years of accounting experience, including 11 with Seidman & Seidman (now BDO), in both Grand Rapids, Michigan and Spokane, Washington. She obtained her B.A. in Accounting from Davenport College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (now Davenport University).

Mike Heywood, Membership & Exhibitor Coordinator

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Mike works with AEMA Members and Annual Meeting Exhibitors.  He started in the mining industry in September, 1979 with Homestake Mining Company. He also has worked for Energy Reserves Group, Goldsil Mining and Milling, and USMX in roles from cartographer to claim staking to investor relations, until 1988.  He provided cartographic services for over a dozen exploration and mining companies and the USGS for several years before becoming an advertising sales representative for the Mining Record.  The Northern Miner retained Mike for seven years as its US advertising sales representative starting in 1995.

Mike was a member of the Board of Trustees of AEMA for three years before joining the staff in 2004.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography (magna cum laude) from Kent State University in 1978, followed by a year of graduate studies. In 2019, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Theology and Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Deanna Stroh, Executive & Convention Services Assistant

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Deanna has been with AEMA since August of 2007 as the Executive Assistant to Mark Compton. She also serves as the Convention Services Assistant. She previously was employed by Roy F. Weston Inc. (now Weston Solutions), an environmental consulting firm and Lockheed Martin, Aerospace Division.

Deanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from California State University, Northridge and lives with her husband Jim in Liberty Lake.

Kenna O'Neill, Communications & Outreach Manager

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Kenna O’Neill joined AEMA in 2019 as the Communications and Outreach Manager. Previously, she served as the Communications Manager for Pend Oreille Public Utility District and as an Associate with Gallatin Public Affairs. In addition to her years of experience in strategic communication, she brings a journalistic skill set having been a writer for her alma mater's (Eastern Washington University) paper and intern for the local NBC affiliate, KHQ. Kenna lives in Cheney with her husband Bryson and Golden Retriever Finn, and you can undoubtedly find them cheering on the sidelines at any home EWU football game.