Ralph “Benny” E. Suggs ’69, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (ret.) and general manager of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) and Rider Services at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., has been named executive director of the NC State Alumni Association, Vice Chancellor Nevin Kessler announced today.
Suggs was the College of Humanities and Social Sciences 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He has also served on the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative Board of Advisors at the university for the past eight years.
“We’re thrilled that Benny Suggs is returning to the university he has loved and supported over the years,” Alumni Association President Dennis Howard ’67 said. “He epitomizes the leadership and public service commitment graduates of NC State are known for throughout the nation.”
As general manager of the Harley Owners Group, Suggs is responsible for managing an organization with 1.2 million members worldwide. He manages all rider-training programs sponsored by Harley-Davidson as well as authorized rentals worldwide. He has a full-time staff of 60 and thousands of volunteers around the world.
“Benny has been responsible for the growth and success of the Harley Owners Group through some very challenging times,” Kessler said. “His efforts to enhance the experience and engagement of Harley-Davidson riders with the company will translate directly to his leadership of the Alumni Association. He will be able to help us engage a larger number of alumni with the university and build those lifelong bonds that are so important to NC State.”
Suggs served for 30 years in the U.S. Navy and was deputy commander in chief, U.S. Special Operations Command, upon his retirement in 2000. He also served as commander of Carrier Group Six/John C. Stennis Battle Group and was director for Operations, Plans and Policy, U.S. Atlantic Fleet where he was responsible for the training and deployment preparations of more than 175,000 personnel.
A Navy aviator, Suggs earned his Naval Aviation Wings in 1971. He has received the Defense Meritorious and Distinguished Service medals, five Legion of Merit medals and two Navy Commendation medals.
“My wife, Kellie, and I are thrilled to be returning to North Carolina and to my alma mater. It truly is ‘Red & White for Life’ in this family,” he said.
The Alumni Association engages more than 175,000 university alumni through programs and services that foster pride and enhance a lifelong connection to NC State.