The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is pleased to welcome two new members to our Executive Management Team, Barb Hammontree Bennett, Director of Education Initiatives, and Jeff Dafler, Director of Public Policy.

Barb Bennett is responsible for connecting businesses with education systems as part of the team addressing the Chamber’s goal to expand the region’s talent development. 

Barb graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in Civil Engineering. She spent the next 28 years in the private engineering and surveying consulting field with her family’s business, Hammontree & Associates, Limited where she was on the Board of Managers and manager of the civil/site land development department as she is both a registered engineer and surveyor.

In 2014, accepted a position as Director of Administrative Services with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District where she was also assigned manager of special projects.

She is a graduate of the third class of what was known as Leadership Canton and has served in leadership capacities as Chairman of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, General Chairman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, and Chairman of the Aultman Health Foundation.

She currently serves on include the Aultman Health Foundation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum, Stark Development Board, Stark Education Partnership, Walsh Advisory Board, the Stream + Wetlands Foundation and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

Barb was recognized as a one of the 30 Leaders of 30 Years of Leadership Stark County, a 2018 Woman of Impact, and inducted in class of 2012 YWCA Woman’s Hall of Fame. Barb and her husband, Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett, live in North Canton with their 2 children.

With more than 25 years of leadership experience in the public and private sectors, Jeff Dafler is responsible for helping the Chamber maintain strong, positive relationships with elected officials at the federal, state and local levels. Under Jeff’s leadership, the Chamber serves as an effective advocate of business interests by arriving at consensus positions on issues that clearly affect business growth and well-being. These issues may take the form of proposed legislation or regulation.  

Jeff began his career working in international political and economic affairs as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State (1991-2000), including assignments at diplomatic posts in Australia, Poland and Italy.  He is a recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, Meritorious Honor Award and Franklin Award. 

Beginning in 2000, Jeff began working in the private sector, holding leadership roles in communication and public policy at NCR Corporation (2000-2005) and The Timken Company (2005-2018), where he held the position of Vice President-Government Affairs. In 2018, Jeff launched The Dafler Company, a public policy and strategic communications consulting firm helping clients and communities navigate an increasingly complex public landscape.

Jeff holds bachelor’s degrees in international studies and French from Miami University and a master’s degree in communication from the University of Dayton.  He serves as adjunct faculty in Communication at Walsh University and has published academic research in the areas of communication, identity and organizational behavior.  He has taken on numerous non-profit leadership roles, including serving as a board member at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, The Wilderness Center, the Timken Charitable and Educational Fund and the College of Business Administration’s Global Management Center at Kent State University.