Leadership Committee

Dr. Henning O. Bruns (Chapter Director)
Dr. Bruns serves as the North Carolina Chapter Director since January 2017. He currently holds the position of Senior Partner & Managing Director Americas and shareholder with the ConMoto Consulting Group. During his career, he worked in several executive positions such as Vice-President of Operations for leading international automotive manufacturers in Europe, South America and for more than 10 years in the United States. He has a total of 28 years of experience in Manufacturing, Product Strategy and Product Line Management.


Al Guarnieri
Al Guarnieri has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2003. He is a partner at the law firm of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP and a leader of their International Practice Group. With over 25 years of experience in international business, he has been particularly involved in the areas of economic development and mergers & acquisitions for manufacturing and distribution companies. Mr. Guarnieri is also the acting director of the Charlotte Chapter of the American Council on Germany. He is a native of Ohio and has lived in Charlotte since 1986.

Hans Hilgenstock 
Hans Hilgenstock has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2017. He is the Director of Route Development TransAtlantic for Kuehne + Nagel. Mr. Hilgenstock has 27 years of experience in logistics, supply chain, customs brokerage and warehousing. Hans was born in Berlin and has resided in Charlotte, NC since 2004.

Steven L. Cooper
Steve Cooper has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2012. He is a CPA and Managing Partner of the Carolinas Practice of Rödl & Partner International. Mr. Cooper has over 20 years of experience with auditing and taxation of subsidiaries and expatriates of international companies in the U.S. He is a native of South Carolina and has lived in Lake Wylie, SC since 2012.


Mike Birkle
Mike Birkle has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2013. He is the current President at Pfaff Molds LP, a manufacturer of rubber and TPE injection molds for automotive sealing systems. Mr. Birkle is also a board member of Apprenticeship2000, a Charlotte area partnership that offers vocational training based on the German dual education model. He is a native of Germany and lived in Chicago for 10 years before moving to Charlotte in 2005.

Stephanie S. Hinrichs
Stephanie Hinrichs has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2013. She is the Director of Client Service for Womble Bond Dickinson and works to serve firm clients together with atttorneys specifically in the manufacturing and transport, logistics & infrastructure industries. Mrs. Hinrichs has more than a decade of experience in marketing and sales, specifically in the legal, economic development, airline, and transportation industries. Raised bilingually, she holds dual American-German citizenships. Raised in Charlotte and Aachen, Germany, she currently resides in Charlotte.

Sven Gerzer
Sven Gerzer has served on the North Carolina Leadership Committee since 2013. He is the Vice President of Economic Development for Europe & India at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce with a focus on German speaking companies. Previous to this role, Mr. Gerzer worked in economic development as the Director of the State of West Virginia’s European Office in Munich. Although an alumni of the University of South Carolina, he is a native of Munich, Germany and has lived in Charlotte since 2012.

Frank Wenz
Frank Wenz began his professional career in 1991 with American Trützschler in Charlotte, North Carolina. Working in management roles over a ten year period, Mr. Wenz served as director of global procurement and project manager for China, coordinating the establishment of Trützschler's industrial manufacturing site in Shanghai. In 2001, Frank joined SCR-Tech, a German start-up company working with pollution control systems for coal-fired power plants. Wenz was part of the senior management team creating that company's first catalytic regeneration facility. Accepting a new challenge in the energy field in September, 2012, Frank co-founded QUINtec Energy, Inc., sharing ownership with QUINtec GmbH, Pleidelsheim, Germany. Based in Charlotte, the corporation seeks to implement German energy efficiency technologies and strategies for the US market.

Reinhard von Hennigs
Reinhard von Hennigs is the Managing Partner of the Charlotte office (BridgehouseLaw Charlotte). Mr. von Hennigs is a licensed attorney in both Germany and the United States (North Carolina) and admitted as Foreign Law Consultant (Georgia). Reinhard consults clients on U.S., German and European law, as well as on international business transactions, corporate and start-up consultation and international litigation. He assists in business visas (E1/E2, L, H, O), company sponsored "green cards" as well as with dual citizenship applications (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung). He is the Secretary of the North Carolina Bar Association International Section Council. Mr. von Hennigs is fluent in German, English and French.