We’re excited to announce this year’s speaker line-up for the upcoming Women in Automotive Conference!
Click on the ‘View More Info‘ button to learn more about the speaker!
Country Chevrolet-Cadillac / Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram of Plymouth, IN
Bob Ross Buick GMC & Mercedes Benz of Dayton, OH
Dr. Suzanne Mendoza Feeney
Hyundai Motor America
Wells Fargo Dealer Services
Melissa Hansen Kann
McGrath Acura of Westmont & McGrath Acura of Downtown Chicago
Treasure Coast Lexus and Treasure Coast Toyota
e-Dealer Solutions and NADA Academy
Freedom Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Toyota of Harrisburg PA
Dealertrack DMS, under the leadership of Sharon Kitzman, is helping to transform the way dealers sell cars, engage customers, and run their business. Kitzman – a 25 year automotive industry veteran – is responsible for leading Dealertrack’s DMS division from single to double-digit market share, and for executing triple digit growth. Prior to joining the Dealertrack team, Kitzman spent 15 years with Ohio-based Reynolds & Reynolds.
Most recently, Kitzman led Dealertrack DMS through their acquisition by Cox Enterprises, Inc., the 17th largest privately held company in the nation. Kitzman’s vision, direction, and overall leadership were decisive in the success of the acquisition and will be instrumental in the continued growth of the business. Dealertrack’s acquisition by Cox will amplify Kitzman and her team’s ability to deliver innovative, market-leading solutions to dealers nationwide.
In 2015, Kitzman’s extraordinary leadership was recognized by Automotive News and resulted in her inclusion as one of 100 Leading Women in Automotive. She was also recently recognized within the Cox organization as one of 10 Courageous Leaders for 2016.
Sharon’s passion for automotive and fresh perspective on automotive technology enables her to adeptly guide Dealertrack DMS through the rapidly changing industry landscape and to deliver on evolving dealer needs in a way that’s unique to the industry.
Lori Wittman is Senior Vice President, Sales and F&I Solutions for the Cox Automotive Retail Solutions Group. In her role Wittman has responsibility for the strategic direction and overall financial success of both the VinSolutions and the Dealertrack F&I businesses.
Wittman joined VinSolutions in 2013 as Vice President of Operations, bringing cross-industry operations experience along with more than 15 years of practice leading large project implementations and driving multimillion-dollar benefits to the business owner. Prior to joining VinSolutions, Lori served as Vice President and General Manager of Rockwell Transportation Services. She previously held the positions of Vice President of Customer Operations for Freightquote, Field Technology Director at H&R Block and Associate Partner with Accenture.
Wittman holds a B.S. in Accounting and Business Administration from the University of Kansas. In 2015 Wittman was recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry, a prestigious list compiled every five years to recognize top female executives at automakers, suppliers and dealerships nationwide.
Subi Ghosh spent her first 6 years in Automotive working her way up from Internet Sales Assistant to Sales and E-Commerce Director of Dealer Groups. Her passion for the industry and drive to be an advocate for dealers serves as a perfect match as Executive Vice President of Dealer Authority and Founding Board Member of Women In Automotive. Subi has become a respected speaker at the major Automotive Events including NADA, Driving Sales, Digital Dealer, and more.
Subi keeps actively involved in the automotive community as a conference speaker and blogger on many automotive forums to be an advocate for dealers, share her knowledge, grow within her profession, and improve the way the industry sells and markets cars.
You can find out more about her on DealerAuthority.com, AskSubi.com, and follow her on twitter @subi101 @asksubi
Tracy Shields Jones
Tracy Shields Jones, president of Century Automotive Group, Inc., has 28 years experience in the automobile business and has led the organization to many prestigious awards including the most coveted in the automobile industry, the 2007 TIME Magazine Quality Dealer of the Year Award.
Jones graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from The University of Alabama in 1984 with accounting honors and business school honors. Upon graduation, she accepted a position with Price Waterhouse in Houston, TX and then proceeded to Peat, Marwick, Main and Company. She became a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in the states of Alabama and Texas in 1988, the same year she began working as comptroller for her father, John Shields, at Century. She became president upon his retirement.
Jones has been married to George Jones, Century’s General Manager, for 29 years. The couple resides in Huntsville, Al. and has four children ranging in age from 18 to 26. Aside from running a successful business with her husband, she cites raising her children as her greatest achievement.
After going to work for her father at Century Automotive Group, Jones and her father put together their innovative approach to the automobile business. To ensure the future of the company, they put their emphasis on employee enthusiasm, customer satisfaction and generously giving back to their community. Her dealership now has the most franchises under one roof in North Alabama, which includes BMW, Volvo, Porsche, Jaguar and Land Rover.
In addition to being chosen from more than 19,500 dealers nationwide for the 2007 TIME Magazine award, which stands for excellence and community involvement, Jones has also led her organization to many other top honors. In 1999, Century was named Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. The Alabama Retail Association awarded the Alabama Retailer of the Year to Century in both 2002 and 2014. The list of honors continues for many of the franchises under Jones’ ownership.
Jones, a distinguished leader in her industry, is also an active member in her community. She presently serves as the Chairman for the Board of Directors for the Alabama Automobile Dealers Association (AADA). She is the only female director for the Board of Directors for Regions Bank, one of the country’s top ten banks and the largest in Alabama. Other board seats for Jones have included but not been limited to: Huntsville Chamber of Commerce, the Von Braun Center, National Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation. Jones is also the community facilitator for many local charities and is proud to be a United Way Alexis de Toqueville Member.
Agustina Rodriguez-Gunn is the general manager of Chrysler Jeep Dodge City of McKinney, a consistent leader in the DFW Metroplex. She is responsible for managing 108 employees and oversees both fixed and variable operations. Agustina moved with her family from Argentina in 1981 and was raised in Miami, Florida. Her passion for the automotive industry started at a very young age, when she would go to work with her father after school. She lived in and out of all the offices, parts departments and her favorite, the body shops. After moving to Dallas in 1999, she started working with her father, who at the time was the general manager of a very successful Pontiac, Buick, GMC store in Carrollton, Texas. This started her career in the Automotive Industry, where she worked her way through many departments in the dealership. In 2005 Gus Rodriguez, her father, was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to buy into a single-point Dodge dealership in McKinney, Texas. In 2010, they expanded the dealership to add the Chrysler and Jeep franchises. Agustina is a huge advocate for community involvement and has partnered with a local charity The Love Life Foundation to give back to local families in the community. Not only is her commitment to the community a driving force behind the many decisions that take place at the dealership, so is family. Chrysler Jeep Dodge City of McKinney is a locally owned-and-operated dealership that has many families working in the daily operations. Agustina’s husband, BJ Gunn, and her brother Lee Rodriguez work side-by-side with her on a daily basis; they truly embrace “family owned-and-operated”.
With over 20 years of diverse corporate experience, including 13 years of revving up the automotive industry with innovative business and marketing ideas, Kimberly Cowan calls AutoAlert home. Serving as VP of Business Operations, she offers a combination of superior leadership and staff development skills, creativity, and marketing expertise.
Kimberly has a wide range of executive-level experience that led her to AutoAlert. From brand re-launches to strategic marketing initiatives, she has held positions at AutoTrader, VinSolutions, and other well-recognized companies within the industry, successfully meeting a broad range of internal and external client needs. Her effective management skills and ability to enhance team collaboration make her a sought-after professional throughout the industry.
A firm believer in the “life’s a journey, not a destination” philosophy, Kimberly is notably driven and encourages those around her to find and focus on their motivators as well. An admitted workaholic, Kimberly thrives under pressure and never backs down from a challenge or a deadline. She willingly goes out of her way to mentor and develop professionals in their career paths and can often be found helping industry pros forge their professional paths, as she continues to advance AutoAlert’s industry presence.
Kimberly studied Political Science at the University of Oregon. She enjoys the opportunity to travel, spend time with her family, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear her cheering for the Mets and the Jets in her downtime.
Clayton Morris joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2008 and is the co-host of FOX & Friends Weekend. He also serves as a co-host for “FOX & Friends First.” Presented weekdays at 5 AM/ET, the program is an hour-long expansion of “FOX & Friends” and is anchored by a pair of rotating hosts.
Prior to joining FNC, Morris worked for FOX 29 in Philadelphia where he was the host of “Good Day Philadelphia.” Before that, he worked in Orlando on the launch of the WB Network’s nationally syndicated morning show “The Daily Buzz.” He was also an anchor at WVVA-TV (NBC) in Bluefield, West Virginia and a political reporter at Montana’s CBS affiliate.
Morris got his start in television as a producer for “Good Day LA” at KTTV in Los Angeles. He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he received degrees in US History and Broadcast Journalism.
I am a broadcaster, writer, and speaker. I am the anchor of Code Forward on MSNBC and a contributor for CNBC. I am also the writer of this very blog that you are visiting and for that I thank you.
My specialties include business, technology, and personal finance. I am a personal finance enthusiast and autodidact. On this site, I share with you what has taken me years to learn in the hopes that I can inspire you to always be in control of your wealth building goals.
Prior to NBC, I was an anchor and contributor for CBS Interactive and CBS News. I have also contributed to CNN, ABC News, G4TV, BBC, The CW, Fox News, Fox Business News, and Univision (Spanish-language reporting).
I have written for Consumer Reports, WIRED, Variety Magazine, MarketWatch, TechCrunch, The San Francisco Examiner, PC Magazine, ELLEgirl, The Oakland Tribune, and more. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Hayward and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Southern California.
Prior to 2010, you may have seen my work under my maiden name, Natali Del Conte.
I am from the San Francisco Bay Area but live just outside of New York City in a charming New Jersey train-stop town full of very inspired thinkers. I really love it here.
I live with my husband Clayton and our two lovely children. My sole focus is to not screw them up.
Anne C. Williams
As President of Holman Parts Distribution, Anne Williams oversees all aspects of the company’s unique powertrain sourcing business model. A universally respected leader with meticulous attention to detail, Williams has played a vital role in establishing Holman Parts Distribution’s reputation across the automotive industry as an industry – leading supplier of powertrain products. During her tenure as President, Williams helped to spearhead Holman Parts’ shift in strategic focus while simultaneously expanding both the company’s distribution footprint and product lineup, fortifying relationships with key business partners. Today, Holman Parts Distribution, a division of the prestigious Holman Automotive Group, remains at the forefront of its industry due in large part to Williams’ unwavering guidance and commitment to the company’s long – standing core values.
Williams began her career with the Holman Automotive Group in 1989 when she entered into the organization’s management training program. Upon completion of the comprehensive training program, Williams spent six years in various management roles in Holman Automotive’s finance and insurance department. Williams quickly rose through the ranks, serving in various sales management roles at several Holman dealerships. In 2004, Williams was named General Sales Manager of Holman Infiniti Maple Shade, a role in which her dedication to customer satisfaction became evident and her unique style of leadership allowed her to flourish. In 2008, Williams was named General Manager of Holman Toyota – Scion – one of Holman Automotive’s flagship dealerships . During her five – plus years as General Manager, Holman Toyota – Scion experienced unprecedented sales growth as Williams helped to improve sales efficiency by more than 30 percent. Additionally, while under Williams’ management, the dealership was awarded the prestigious Toyota President’s Award for outstanding achievement by Toyota Motor Sales and was also named to Automotive News’ inaugural list of the Best Dealerships to Work For in 2012. Williams received her bachelor’s degree from Franklin & Marshall College in 1988 while also being recognized as a two – time tennis All – American, an honor which helped her earn induction in to the college’s athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. Williams currently resides in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey with her husband and two sons .
Tammie LeBleu overcame huge hurdles on her way to becoming one of the most successful salespeople in the U.S. Raised in a small parish of Louisiana, LeBleu pursued a degree in nursing and served in the profession for many years before making a career change into the automotive industry. She took to automotive sales almost instantly—first at Lexus, then at Orr Nissan—and was a high performer, averaging 18 cars sold per month.
Despite her professional success, LeBleu had to overcome tremendous personal challenges. After “hitting bottom”, she made the decision to turn her life around and began working hard to rebuild her life and career.
Today, LeBleu has made over $1,000,000 as the Internet Director and Sales Manager at Orr Nissan Bossier. The secret to her success? Hard work and CAR-Research XRM, which allows her to network efficiently with potential buyers, as well as hold her sales staff accountable for driving conversions. LeBleu sums it up best: “You have to believe in yourself, have to take the tools that the dealership gives you and use them, and come in every day and work. But most of all, I would say: don’t quit before the miracle happens.”
Dennis Galbraith is the Head of OEM and Reseller Programs for Dealer E-Process. He is the author of two marketing books, Sales Integration and Online Automotive Merchandising, and produces a weekly video series for dealers, Automotive Marketing Facts. His ability to help dealers quickly turn marketing metrics into profitable action items makes him a popular speaker at conferences and 20 groups across North America. Dennis owned two successful companies serving dealers and vendors, Dennis Galbraith Marketing Services and Revenue Guru.
Through the 1990’s he taught marketing at the graduate and undergraduate level for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He ran the automotive internet division of J.D. Power and Associates until 2006, then managed over $300,000,000 in advertising products as Cars.com’s Vice President of Advertising Products and Training. He taught marketing for NADA Academy and is widely known for his dynamic speeches and videos as well as his informative writing.
Rebecca Lindland serves as the senior director of commercial insights for Kelley Blue Book. In this role, she oversees the creation and delivery of consultative, actionable and differentiated insights for automakers and advertising agency clients. Working with many departments within the Cox Automotive Media Group, Kelley Blue Book’s parent company, Lindland cohesively synthesizes available data and reports, highlighting interesting and relevant data with the automotive industry. By utilizing data and analysis related to customer behaviors and perceptions of automotive brands, she provides recommendations to optimize and improve advertising campaigns, messaging and media strategies. Lindland also applies knowledge of new vehicle launches to help automakers and advertising agencies craft storylines. Additionally, using these insights, she frequently speaks with media on current and upcoming trends and timely automotive news topics.
Prior to Kelley Blue Book in 2015, she spent over two years as a senior research fellow for the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. KAPSARC is a non-profit research institution focused on energy policy, technology and more. Lindland created and developed the center’s transportation studies initiative, and spearheaded a research project aimed at analyzing the Saudi Arabian light-vehicle market to evaluate potential methodologies for applying fuel economy standards, while minimizing market disruption. She also led a project market sizing and estimating adoption rates of alternative fuel vehicles in the U.S. market, advising regulators, academics and manufacturers on the topic.
Previously, Lindland also spent more than 10 years at IHS Automotive as director of research and formerly, as a director of industry research and senior analyst.
As a veteran industry analyst, Lindland is highly respected in the automotive industry and frequently interviewed by national media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, WIRED, and CBS News, among others. She also recently served on two National Academies of Sciences committees, “Overcoming Barriers to Electric Vehicle Deployment” and “Cost, Effectiveness and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles.”
Lindland holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.
David & Diana Villa
David and his wife of 22 years Diana started Imperial Press Direct from their bedroom in Tampa, Florida. They went from dialing local dealers from their house, to now working with more than 600 dealerships annually. IPD is now one of the leading direct marketing firms in the U.S. servicing the automotive industry. Based out of the greater Tampa Bay area, IPD has been in business, and expanding, for 20 years.
Jack Simmons is a renowned trainer in the automotive industry, and currently works as a dealer consultant in addition to working with Women in Automotive. His past endeavors include manager of sales and dealer training for Cars.com, a destination for buyers and sellers of automotive sales and service. Previous to that he worked for AutoTrader.com where he managed and developed training programs for dealers, manufacturers and state automotive associations in a similar capacity. Simmons has trained more than 100,000 automotive professionals over the course of his 30+ years in the industry, including franchise dealers, independent dealers and professionals from automotive manufacturers.
A former dealer himself, Simmons has been at the forefront of digital marketing, helping stores improve in the areas of online reputation management, vehicle merchandising and mobile marketing, among others. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, including NADA, NIADA, Digital Dealer, DrivingSales Executive Summit, J.D. Power Automotive Internet Roundtable and national BHPH conferences.
Previously, Simmons served as a national dealer trainer for Autotrader, where he managed and developed training programs for dealers, manufacturers and state automotive associations. He joined Cars.com in 2010.
Loren entered the automobile business right out of college in 1977. In his first year selling cars, he was salesman of the month nine times. He advanced into F&I, then a year later was promoted to Used Car Manager and Assistant GM. Loren first became a Dealer in 1988 as 25% owner of Borton Volvo of Delray Beach, FL. In 1991, they added a VW franchise. In 2001, 10 days after the horror of 9/11, Loren bought out his partner and became sole owner the dealership. In 2004, Loren sold the stores in Delray Beach and three years later opened Volvo of Fort Myers. He sold that store in 2015 and retired from the retail car business. He then became a Principal in M.D. Johnson, Inc., the leading Broker for Luxury automobile dealerships in the U.S. He is a five-time Volvo Dealer of Excellence and Presidents Club award winner. In 2003, he was A.I.A.D.A.’s and Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine’s “Import Dealer of the Year”. He is past President of the South Florida Auto and Truck Dealers Association, past Chairman of the the Auto Show in Miami and past President of the Delray Beach Auto Dealers Association (for 11 years). In both 2014 and 2015, Loren’s Volvo store in Fort Myers was the top overall performing Volvo store in the Florida market and one of the top three performing Volvo stores in the entire Southeast.
Amanda Ledezma began her automotive career in 2005, working her way through receptionist, sales, finance and management positions – each one allowing her to learn different aspects of a dealership. Amanda is a natural counselor, which allows her to use teamwork to get the desired results from the sales departments. She is an innovative quick thinker who can confidently tell her team what needs to be accomplished. As a mother of three, she understands the importance of family and relationships which, enabling her to connect with guests on a consistent basis. Amanda believes in people and strives to make her employer, Cable Dahmer of Kansas City, a fun place to work. When this is accomplished, it becomes a great place for guests to visit for all their automotive needs.
Mark D. Johnson
Mark is the President of MD Johnson Inc., an automotive mergers, acquisitions and financial advisory services firm. The 16-year-old company’s practice is strictly in the retail automobile industry. Mark and his 10-person firm have advised on more than 200 engagements nearing $5 billion related to automobile dealerships, dealership real estate, assets and inventory, as well as closely held finance companies, insurance and reinsurance all related to the automobile business. Mark is recognized and admitted as an expert in Federal/State/Family Court in valuation; and as a damages expert regarding the retail automobile business. He has represented decedent estates, and personal and co-personal representatives in the sale of business assets and real estate in the automobile dealership business. Mark has been a speaker/presenter and moderator at over two dozen automotive seminars and webinars with Automotive News, the CPA Dealers Association, NADA, National Association of Dealer Lawyers and the Chrysler Minority Dealer Association. Mark is a former Ford dealer who came up through the Ford Minority Dealer Development Program as a Non-Minority, putting himself through EWU as a licensed used truck dealer.
Jennifer is a transplanted Southerner who married into the Martin Automotive family of Marshall County, Indiana in 1993. She previously spent nine years working for AT&T in their manufacturing facilities in a number of locations, and credits that time as the foundation she applied in learning the automotive world. Her husband, Joe (the Dealer Principal at the time) brought her in to use her knowledge from the corporate world to streamline and establish processes in all aspects of the dealership. She has worked in many different positions, including Customer Relations, Service Desk Consultant, Parts Department clerk, Office Management support, and finally, Fixed Operations Manager. In 2013, General Motors and FIAT-Chrysler (FCA) initiated a change of ownership of the franchises upon learning of Jennifer’s heritage. She is a Native American, belonging to the Adai Caddo Indian Nation of Louisiana, part of the great Caddo tribes of Oklahoma. As a Native American, she now represents her franchises with FIAT-Chrysler and General Motors as a minority dealer. Jennifer is a recent graduate of the FIAT-Chrysler Dealer Development Program, where an emphasis is placed on operational best practices in all dealership departments.
Jenell is the only second-generation African-American woman automobile dealer in the country. She accepted the leadership role in 1997 after the untimely death of her father, Robert P. Ross Sr., who in 1974 started the family-owned business in Richmond, Indiana. Jenell became president after the passing of her mother, Mrs. Norma J. Ross, in 2010. Today, the Bob Ross Auto Group, located in Centerville, Ohio, includes five franchises. One, Mercedes-Benz of Centerville, was the first African-American owned Mercedes-Benz Dealership in the world. Currently, the Bob Ross Auto Group also has the distinction of having the only Mercedes-Benz, Buick-GMC, Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealerships owned by an African American woman. This year the the group celebrated 42 years as a Buick Dealer, 37 years as a Mercedes-Benz Dealer, 34 years as a GMC Dealer and five years as a Fiat Dealer. Jenell is an active member of the Dayton community, serving on numerous boards of several foundations and community service organizations; and has recently been appointed by the Governor of Ohio, John R. Kasich, to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Board. Jenell has completed the General Motors Dealer Management Development Program and also graduated from the NADA Dealer Candidate Academy.
Lisa W. Wardell
Lisa is chief operating officer of The RLJ Companies, a diversified holding company with portfolio companies in the financial services, asset management, real estate, hospitality, media and entertainment, automotive and gaming industries. She is responsible for managing the portfolio, including strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy, operations and finance. Lisa was a key member of the team that formed RML Automotive, the 19th-largest automotive dealership in the U.S.; and also played a key role in the creation of RLJ Equity Partners, LLC, a private equity fund formed in association with The Carlyle Group. Lisa also directed the successful development and management of RLJ Kendeja Resort and Villas, a luxury hotel in Liberia, West Africa. Lisa served as CFO of RLJ Acquisition, a $140 million Special Purpose Acquisition Company that acquired Acorn Media and Image Entertainment and formed RLJ Entertainment, Inc. Prior to joining The RLJ Companies, she was a Principal at Katalyst Venture Partners, a private equity firm that invested in start-up technology companies in the media and communications industries. Lisa previously worked as a senior consultant for Accenture, a global management consulting company.
Yolanda Rocio is Vice President Human Resources for CDK Global, Inc (formerly ADP) in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. She is the HR Executive for the North America Sales and Operations organization for 3,800 associates located in multiple locations in the US and Canada. Her team of 12 includes nine HR Directors. During her 16 ½-year tenure, she has also been the HR Executive for Finance, IT, Supply Chain, and Marketing. While at ADP, Yolanda was the Executive Sponsor for the Midwest Region and division-wide diversity initiatives and was a member of the Steering Committee for Women In Leadership – Midwest Region. She is the Executive Sponsor of the Summer Minority Intern Program and has been the HR Lead for various acquisitions and divestitures. Prior to CDK (formerly known as ADP – Dealer Services), Yolanda worked as the Program Leader for high potentials, which included leading a Minority Mentoring Program, Minority Supply Chain Program, and a partnership with the Lead for the Women Mentoring Program at Accenture. She also worked at State Farm Insurance, where she held roles in the Claims Operations and Human Resources departments. She was most recently honored as one of The Chicago Defender newspaper’s “50 Women of Excellence”.
Ted L. Smith
Ted has been President of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) since 2001. He holds the following certifications: CAE (Certified Association Executive Fellow) from the American Society of Association Executives; and DPL (Designated Professional Lobbyist) as a member of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists. Ted manages the lobbying team at FADA and teaches at FADA Dealer Roadshows on legislative and regulatory developments. He also represents and advocates for dealers with consumer groups, the media, regulatory agencies, the Florida Legislature and Congress. His background also includes executive association management in the construction and insurance industries.
Eliana Raggio, known as the “Webinar Goddess”, is host and moderator of DealerOn’s free weekly webinars (DealerOn.com/webinar), where she presents invaluable information from industry-leading experts on timely and relevant topics dealers need to compete and succeed in the automotive industry today. The highly interactive installments of the popular continuing education series are held every Thursday at 9am PST/noon EST. She is also an award-winning voice-over artist, professional emcee and former Philadelphia morning show radio personality. Additionally, Eliana is a US Navy Veteran, having honorably served during the Gulf War. She is also a gifted communicator and eloquent writer who has long been a strong advocate for all issues facing women in male-dominated industries. You can connect with her on Twitter @ElianaRaggio or e-mail her directly at Eliana@DealerOn.com.
Candice has 15 years of sales and operations experience in a variety of markets. As the Organizational Development Director of a large automotive group in the Midwest, Candice designed and led a transformational change that improved the customer experience and reduced employee turnover by replacing the F&I silo with cross-functionally trained recent college graduates. Candice created a Management Training Program and defined a career path for future leaders and high volume sales people. Candice has extensive experience in Talent Management and is considered a SME in recruiting and retention strategies for high-turnover environments.
Dena is a Senior Field Consultant at L2TMedia. She is responsible introducing L2T Media’s digital advertising solutions to dealerships throughout the Midwest. In addition, she manages relationships with existing clients within the Midwest region. She has more than five years of automotive digital marketing experience beginning with an internship at L2TMedia.
She has a thorough understanding of the digital industry and how it specifically relates to the automotive industry. She has owned many vehicles including a Chevy Truck, BMW 3 Series and Honda CR-V. Her favorite digital solution right now is either YouTube Video Advertising or Facebook Advertising. Both products offer a low cost and highly targeted solution to dealers.
Dena was born and raised in Chicagoland. She attended the University of Illinois-Chicago where she fell in love with the city and all that it has to offer. She is very passionate about helping dealerships understand and utilize digital marketing. You can connect with her on Twitter @DigitalAdDena or e-mail her directly at DDenman@L2Tmedia.com
Dr. Suzanne Mendoza Feeney
Suzanne drives change and leads organizations to increase productivity, revenue and satisfaction. As Senior Manager of Customer Communications Strategy at Hyundai Motor America, she designs lifecycle communication strategies, governs customer data, and champions “big data” analytics in order to make customer experiences better.
Suzanne serves as a member of the Hyundai Diversity Council, the council sponsor of the Drive:Equality LGBTQ Employee Resource Group (ERG), and the chair of the Women@Hyundai ERG. Her experience spans the automotive, insurance, travel and academic sectors.
Let’s connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzannefeeney
Carey has CallSource in her DNA. She founded the company with her father 25 years ago and has been on a lifelong learning quest to work smarter (not harder) ever since. Most recently as Marketing Director, Carey launched the company’s new Website, created its social media strategy and aligned the sales and marketing teams to focus on the customers’ needs. She was recently certified in the Google “Search Inside Yourself” curriculum currently taught by the Search Engine giant, that explores science-supported mindfulness and emotional intelligence.
Erich K. Gail
Erich K. Gail is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cardinale Automotive Group, which has 19 dealerships in California, Arizona and Nevada (currently the #2 highest sales volume eDealer in North America).
Mr. Gail is a 26-year veteran of the global automotive industry, having served in a variety of executive and senior leadership roles in an array of management and investment groups throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Kim Gershon is the West Regional Leader for Wells Fargo Dealer Services, the nation’s second-largest auto finance lender. She is responsible for the growth and profitability of 21 regional business centers. Kim joined the organization in 1999 and soon became one of the first Division Sales Managers in the organization. In 2002 she was promoted to National Sales Manager, then Regional Business Center Manager two years later. In 2007, she became the first female Division Manager and has been in her current role since October 2014. Kim previously held a number of positions with auto finance companies, including Household Automotive Finance, Key Auto Finance and Chrysler Financial Corporation. In 2011, she received the prestigious Extraordinary Leader Award. Kim was the 2013 chair of the Wells Fargo Dealer Services Diversity and Inclusion Council and still serves as an active member. She was part of the Consumer Lending Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, receiving the 2013 and 2014 Diversity Champion awards. She served on the Latin Connection Network Leadership Team from 2010-2012 and co-chaired the 2013 Dealer Services Dallas Fort Worth Community Support campaign. In 2015, she co-chaired the multi-business Wells Fargo Dallas Fort Worth Community Support campaign.
Kathy is the Director of Sales and Business Development for CDK Global, Inc. (formerly ADP Dealer Services). She has management responsibility for the CDK Minority and Women Dealer Business(es), which includes 1,500 clients across the United States, with roughly $60 million in revenue. Kathy has more than 20 years at CDK Global, where she has held positions in Product Marketing, Field Sales – Northeast, Sales Operations & Support and Competitive Intelligence. Kathy is an advocate for all clients, especially our minority and women dealers. She continues to partner with internal and external stakeholders to deliver unique, personalized experiences for our clients; and to showcase CDK Global’s products and services.
Melissa Hansen Kann
Melissa began her career in the automotive industry in 1995 as a salesperson for McGrath Acura of Countryside. The following year she was named salesperson of the year. In early 2004, she became the Client Relations Manager for McGrath Acura of Westmont. During her tenure she has been awarded Manager of the Year three times; and led her store to achieve Dealership of Distinction status (Acura’s most prestigious award) in each of the last 11 years. For the past 2 1/2 years Melissa has also managed Client Relations at McGrath’s Chicago location. Over the years Melissa has employed many young women, taking them under her wing and mentoring them not only at work, but also through life – so they not only complete their job tasks but also become strong professionals.
As Chief Human Resources Officer, Cynthia is responsible for the strategic direction of all human resources functions. She leads all Human Resources teams, including Employee Relations, Total Rewards and Benefits, Recruiting, Organizational Development, Talent Management and HR Systems. Working cross-functionally to support all areas of the business, Cynthia’s focus is on perpetuating a company brand and culture that attracts and retains world-class talent.
Jessie is on the Sales Strategy and Enablement team at Google. In this role, she trains sales reps, managers and analysts on digital advertising solutions, sales processes, vertical-specific trends and insights, and the power of analytics.
Before Google, Jessie held roles ranging from Digital Specialist to Digital Advertising Operations Manager to Multimedia Advertising Director at Scripps and Gatehouse newspapers. She has an MBA from California Lutheran University, with an emphasis in Small Business Entrepreneurship; a BA in Philosophy from UC Berkeley; and a BS in Business from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Jessie is very passionate about helping businesses thrive in an ever-changing advertising landscape–particularly within the automotive space, having worked with dealers on their multimedia advertising strategies at every stage in her career.
Ms. Julie Kimes brings to the table 25 plus years at O’Daniel’s and an entire family history tied to the car industry. With a background of growth and Avant guard development in the way cars are sold, Kimes has spent her career dedicated to delivering extraordinary service and value. Her hard work has clearly paid off in every position she has held in the dealership. In 2009 after successfully managing a satellite store, she was asked to be the GSM for O’Daniel Automart and Mazda. When Kimes took over the operations the total dealership sales were only 556 units a year. She has not only gained market share but has nearly doubled sales volume closing 2015 with 1069 retail units. She attributes the success to thinking outside of the box.
Deb Krueger is Client Care Center Manager at Treasure Coast Lexus and Treasure Coast Toyota. Deb started in a Lincoln-Mercury dealership as a service department assistant and was quickly promoted to Title Clerk and Assistant Office Manager. Deb’s volunteer work with the local Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse led her to take on the tough love job of therapeutic foster parent after the closing of the Lincoln-Mercury dealership. She devoted 14 years to caring for abused and neglected children, then returned to the automotive field once her children were older; joining Braman Motorcars and quickly becoming one of the top Sales Advisors. She remained there for almost two years until an off-duty car accident sidelined her test-driving abilities. She was offered a position in the somewhat-chaotic Braman Motorcars Sales BDC while she recuperated. Deb was subsequently promoted to BDC Manager of the nearby sister store (Jupiter BMW) before accepting a position closer to home with Treasure Coast Lexus. There, it was decided to institute a Client Care Center (CCC) with Lexus Principles as a guideline (instead of a traditional BDC). The CCC tripled appointments, all the while raising client satisfaction.
Craig Lockerd is a 43-year ” Green Pea” in the auto industry who has literally held every position in a dealership from Porter to President. In the late 1980s he became known as a “Turn-Around Specialist”. Nearly two decades ago, he founded AutoMax Recruiting and Training, where he still serves as President of the company. Craig, his staff and the company’s trainer network are the premier experts in the world of automotive recruitment. AutoMax has conducted over 14,000 recruiting campaigns and placed more than 140,000 women and men into the car business in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Stefania Mereu is the Vice-President of Vast, and holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology. She is a User Experience (UX) Researcher, Strategist, Evangelist, SXSW speaker, and statistics junkie. Stefania has been measuring user behavior for over 10 years. Her unfair advantage as a UX researcher features a deep understanding of how people distribute their attention in time and space while performing complex tasks, such as trying to decide which car to buy. An outspoken and needed voice in automotive where data should overrule gut instinct, she has developed products and insights for Vast that increased product conversions by 700%.
Emily Miller is most comfortable driving the dunes of the Sahara and refuses to commute on the 5 Freeway. President of Public Relations and Sports Marketing firm Soulside Network, she is also the founder of the first women’s navigation rally raid in the U.S., the Rebelle Rally, which spans seven days of competition based on skill – not speed. No GPS, cell phones or outside assistance.
For longer than she cares to reveal, Emily has been in the sports marketing and PR business, with automotive being her true passion. Her background is in brand building, and her experience is deeply rooted in the action sports world.
As an athlete, she learned quickly that a vehicle is the great equalizer for body size and gender – a blessing, given her 5-foot, 100-lb. frame. What started as an opportunity to race stock trucks for legendary off-road racer Rod Hall became a chance to see many amazing places across the planet and gain invaluable life and work lessons from the driver’s seat. Despite numerous podium finishes and wins including the Baja 1000 … and being the first woman to solo the longest off-road race in the US (and win her class), her takeaway has been transferring the lessons to her business; and most important, encouraging women who share her passion for cars and adventure.
To date, she has coached over 4,000 people to drive off-road, organized and produced over 100 experiential automotive events, spent countless hours “secret shopping”, and helped women tackle their fears and challenges in a vehicle – including spearheading the US women’s effort at the punishing Gazelle Rally in Morocco. Emily is a recipient of the Women’s Automotive Alliance International “Spirit of Leadership Award” who still mutters the age-old adage of “to finish first, you must first finish”.
With nearly 30 years of industry experience, Joni is recognized as one of the most trusted and relied-upon experts in the automotive business. As the President and Founder of Owner Connect, her team has revolutionized the role and impact Business Development Centers now play among dealerships throughout North America and Europe. In addition to her years as the face of Owner Connect, Joni has gained a wonderful reputation for her corporate speaking experience and workshop series. Focusing on delivering results and improving efficiency, Joni has built an organization and strategy to ensure every client realizes its full potential.
Jennifer is the Founder and President of e-Dealer Solutions, Inc., an award-winning Education and Activity-Based Training Company focused on improving dealership showed appointments, sales and management processes. Her 21 years of experience includes stints as President, e-Dealer Solutions; In-Dealership Sales Trainer; Guest Instructor at NADA Academy; NADA Multi-Year Convention Speaker; OEM, State Association; and Twenty-Group Speaker. She has a tremendous reputation for delivering significant success to dealerships looking for up-to-date phone skills and profitable actions that convert non-present buyers to showroom customers. She can be reached at Jennifer@edealersolution.com, or via text 954.873.8029.
Joe Webb is the President of DealerKnows, an Internet sales and digital marketing consulting firm specializing in the automotive industry. He maximizes companies’ online investments through on-site training, virtual consulting, and the industry’s first lead management coaching software. Joe has been called “the funniest guy in the car business” and passionately speaks and consults bleeding edge strategies internationally. He films comedic videos about car sales that are almost entertaining, writes for countless publications and online resource sites, and is viewed as one of the top process improvement experts in retail. With a history of retail success, Joe is best known for blending the lines between entertainment and education.
Jennifer White is a training manager at Cars.com. She has more than a decade of experience in automotive advertising and retail, including her role as e-commerce director at a 25-store group. White joined Cars.com in 2010 and works with both direct and affiliate channels. She leverages her extensive experience buying and selling traditional and digital media, teaching hundreds of media consultants and dealers around the country each year on how to optimize marketing strategies for success with today’s car shoppers.
Camron Wilson is the Senior Consultant, Education Solutions for the National Automobile Dealers Association. In this position, Camron coordinates customized financial management, parts, service, variable operations and leadership training from the Dealer Academy for dealership groups, allied industry groups and manufacturer personnel at all levels. Camron’s goal is to educate and prepare the next generation of Automotive Dealers in the US and abroad. Her collective 15 years of experience in the industry with Ford Motor Company, Dealer Product Services and NADA has taught her the importance of Dealership Operations training for dealership employees and those individuals who interact with dealerships on a daily basis. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Kerri Wise is Vice President, Dealer Marketing at TrueCar. In her role, she leads dealer marketing and relations, ensuring dealers are aware of and engage with the TrueCar platform, tools and best practices.
Kerri’s automotive career spans nearly 18 years consulting, training, and communicating with dealers and OEMs on digital marketing, consumer insights, and sales process. Prior to joining TrueCar, Kerri spent 4 years as an Executive Director of Dealer Training at Edmunds.com leading product and sales training for Edmunds dealers and the internal sales team. Kerri also spent 12 years at J.D. Power and Associates where she consulted both OEMs and dealers on automotive consumer insights.
Kerri earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University-Northridge.
Erin Wold is the Chief People Officer at RedCap Automotive Technology. She’s also a passionate performance coach and a startup founder. When she’s not working at RedCap, you’ll find her in San Francisco building her fashion company or putting together personal development seminars. Erin also speaks at Victim Impact Panels (due to her volunteerism with Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and shares stories that are bound to touch, move and inspire you. Erin is regarded by her communities as bold and charismatic.
Nancy is Principal of eMentorConnect. An avidly recognized and requested expert in the field of coaching and leadership development, Nancy draws on her diverse experience to design effective mentoring programs to enhance an organization’s success. Her passion for linking the fundamentals of leadership to people development is a critical component of eMC’s success. In addition to eMC, Nancy is an active board member of charities that positively impact our children and our future. Prior to launching eMentorConnect, she was a senior sales leader, director of operations and marketing product manager at Pfizer, Inc.
As Director of The Academy @ Service Group, Tony is responsible for the content and direction of all Sales, Sales Management, F&I, Hybrid, Phone/BDC and Internet training. Tony personally conducts nationwide F&I and Advanced F&I workshops throughout the year. Tony has been a top professional in the training and consulting fields for more than 15 years. Before entering the training and consulting industry in 2000, Tony held the positions of Salesperson, Business Manager, Fleet Sales Manager, Sales Manager, and General Manager. During his retail sales career, Tony was consistently a top producer and a multi-year recipient of numerous manufacturer awards. In 1995, Tony earned the prestigious title of Nissan National Walk-Around Champion. Considered the industry’s most forward-thinking F&I and sales developer, Tony is a featured columnist in many top automotive publications including Automotive News; and you may have seen his video segments distributed to thousands of subscribers via the same publication’s Websites and e-mails. Tony has presented to 20 Groups and manufacturer, state, national and international dealer associations; and has been a featured workshop presenter at several NADA conventions.
Judy L. Farcus Serra
Judy has worked as an innovative and resourceful manager in the automotive industry spanning thirty years. She began her career part time as a receptionist and cashier while attending high school and college. She went on to work in all of the different dealership accounting positions, moving from one to another with a thirst for knowledge.
After twelve years with two Chevrolet dealers, Judy found her true calling with Headquarter Toyota. She started as the Office Manager in 1997 and was promoted to Controller in 2001. Judy was promoted again in 2005 to Assistant General Manager due to her involvement in both the financial and operational sides of the Headquarter Group, as well as being an integral part of the long-term planning team. As the Group’s CFO, her position has expanded; the overall health and growth of the organization is now her key focus.
In 2010, Judy played a critical role in the opening of Headquarter Honda, a new point in Clermont, FL awarded to the Group. She helped with not only the application process, but also oversaw the construction of the building as well. In May 2013 Judy took the lead on the acquisition of our Hyundai dealership. Immediately following the Hyundai acquisition, the quest for a Mazda franchise in Clermont, FL began. Along with the Group’s executive team, Judy planned and jointly developed the interest of Mazda and the group was awarded the Mazda franchise in Mid-2014. Judy is currently taking lead on the land acquisition, and liaison for the group on the planning, construction, and legal sides of the project.
Judy is responsible for the group’s overall profitability, including her direct involvement with the CEO, executives, general managers, department managers, and most importantly their development and retention of leadership for the group. Her days stay fairly full with project planning and implementation, manufacturer relations, vendor relations and negotiations, finance negotiation and relations with lending sources, while she oversees the financial side of the group.
Judy is celebrating her 19th year with the Headquarter Group. She is married to Gregory Serra and they have a 17 year old son, Justin. Outside of the dealerships, she enjoys spending time with her family, being involved with dog rescues, cooking, deep sea fishing, and volunteering and advising at a local middle school as a Miami-Dade business partner.
For more than a decade, Kate Frost has specialized in automotive digital marketing, with an emphasis on social media. For the past six years, she has been President of Kate Frost Inc., an award-winning Digital Marketing service provider. She has conducted hundreds of social media campaigns to brand businesses, drive traffic and generate sales and service leads. Prior to Kate Frost Inc., spent two-and-a-half years at Toyota of Orlando as Director of Strategic Marketing and Business Development; and three years at Who’s Calling as an Account Executive calling on more than 150 dealerships. Kate is a frequent attender of of conferences such as Digital Dealer, Driving Sales Executive Summit, NADA, PubCon and AutoCon; and during trips to Google and Facebook headquarters she’s continued to learn about emerging trends and best practices. Kate was recently recognized as Dealer Marketing Magazine’s 2014 Technology Leader in Social Media. She has presented at the Innovative Dealer Summit in Denver, CO; been a three-time host for DealerOn Webinar series; contributed to Auto Dealer Monthly‘s Training for Success magazine; and lectured at numerous 20 Group Associations and Digital Dealer conferences held across the country.
Claire Garstka is the National Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Colors on Parade, and an Advisor to the Women in Automotive Association International. She has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience across a wide range of industries. For nearly three years, Claire has enjoyed serving as a leader in the Colors on Parade team. Colors on Parade is a national mobile paint and dent franchise system boasting 28 years’ experience servicing dealership and retail customers.
Bill is an expert in Talent Management and Talent Acquisition. He is passionate about creating forward-thinking talent strategies that drive organizational culture change that better support people doing their best work. Always the driver and never the passenger, Bill has achieved results in a variety of high-profile global companies that are in rapid transition.
Bill joined General Motors in November 2012 and is the head of Global Talent Acquisition. Based in Detroit, Michigan, Bill ensures that GM has a robust talent pipeline to meet the current and future business demands for talent at all levels in the Company. Previously, Bill was with Google in Mountain View, California, where he led the global career development team. Bill was also a Director, Professional Career Development, at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington and was the Head of Talent Planning at Visa in San Francisco.
Susan is the Manager of Corporate Reputation & Community Outreach for the Hoffman Auto Group. Her focus is on developing brand awareness while also fostering and nurturing relationships with customers and community partners. She creates the vision and business plan for all social media and online reputation for 10 brands and two body shops, as well as the company blog. Susan received the Service Award in Psychology for her dedication to serving others through student teaching and volunteering in the local community. She is an active member of the Connecticut Women’s Council, United Way Women’s Leadership Council, Leadership Greater Hartford and MetroHartford Alliance. During her previous employment of 11 years at Aetna, Susan held administrative positions before promotions to research and technical assistant in the marketing department. Susan currently represents Hoffman in radio and TV commercials, YouTube videos, press conferences and other public forums. A 13-year survivor of breast cancer, Susan is a spokesperson for Komen Connecticut and seeks opportunities to speak to groups on a range of topics from customer satisfaction, leadership, self-improvement, self-worth, and cancer survival.
Scott began his career in automotive at a Ford store in Southern California in the 1990s, then joined Autobytel in May 2000. Today, Scott serves as Vice President of Sales for Autobytel, where he manages sales and account management, along with Autobytel’s broad range of industry-leading products. Additionally, Scott serves as an automotive industry spokesperson, a company news media spokesperson and lead trainer of the Autobytel Dealer Insight Series. Scott is an NADA Convention and NADA 20-group speaker, in addition to Driving Sales, Digital Dealer, IS-20 Groups, Internet Battle Plan, CBT News, and Auto Con. You can contact Scott at Scottp@autobytel.com.
As Automotive Industry Marketing Lead for Twitter, Rebecca works closely with Twitter’s in-house research team to uncover insights and user behaviors that help Twitter’s partners better connect with their customers and fans – both current and future. She brings the voice of the auto consumer to Twitter, and is responsible for aligning Twitter and its advertising products to best support the automotive industry. Prior to joining Twitter in 2014, Rebecca spent five years at Toyota Motor Sales, USA. There, as the Brand Manager for RAV4, Highlander and Venza, she influenced product pricing and promotion, training and research, and oversaw all elements of sales, marketing and advertising for those models. Prior to business school, she worked as a Business Process & Technology Consultant with Accenture in their Health Payer practice.
Dr. Pat Schuch
Dr. Pat Schuch is a Professional Engineer with degrees in physics, education, business, and leadership. She worked for a major auto company for three decades in a variety of areas, including mechanical and electrical components, vehicle assembly, metal fabrication, engineering, quality, strategic planning and global technology management. Pat enjoys sharing her insights about spiritual growth, family, travel, lifelong learning, work-life balance and community service. Her book, Driving in the Middle Lane, is the collection of adventures of a young wife and mother of two, who embarked on a 30-year career in the auto industry in 1977. Pat’s anecdotes describe her struggles and successes adapting to the predominantly male working environments of the factory floor and management offices, as well as her family challenges in a dual-career household. These stories provide encouragement for both women and men who are striving to advance in their occupations while nurturing the important relationships in their lives. At the end of each chapter, the author’s “Pearls from Pat” reinforce the effective strategies she’s discovered along the way.
Jaclyn is an award-winning journalist and automotive reporter, deciphering the world of sheet metal for the masses. She divides her time among Los Angeles, Detroit and New York. A former automotive reporter for The New York Times and The Detroit News, Jaclyn has also covered cars and women for The New Yorker, Fortune, Glamour, Newsweek, Fast Company, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, Rolling Stone and Refinery 29, among others. Jaclyn has reported on cars from five continents, where she seeks out other women in the automotive industry. She has been interviewed on The Takeaway and profiled by Israel’s second-largest newspaper, which called her “the female automotive journalist with the largest readership in the world.” She writes an automotive blog for Forbes and serves as a U.S. juror to the World Car Awards. A regular attendee at high-profile events including Forbes Women’s Summit and Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards and Summit Series, Jaclyn bridges the worlds of automotive and consumer lifestyle with a passion for distilling complex information in an engaging way for a mass audience. In 2013, she gave a Tedx talk to a 1,000-person audience exploring how we consume news.
Donna is currently Department chair and professor of the Aftermarket management program at Northwood University. In this role, she teaches aftermarket courses and works with those in the industry. Donna’s background includes: President of Car Care Council prior to it becoming a part of the Auto Care Association; Marketing communications agency Account Executive representing Dana Corporation; Category and Marketing Manager for Wells Manufacturing; and Marketing Services Manager for Tenneco. Donna has taught marketing at Bowling Green State University, as well as online marketing and aftermarket courses for Northwood. She has been active in industry groups over the course of her career, including the Auto Care Association, Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium and Automotive Communications Council. She currently serves on the Higher Education Council of the Category Management Association. Donna has a passion for the industry and in helping individuals and companies perform at a higher level.
Brent Wees is a Partner and Ambassador of Buzz at Powered by Dashboard, a digital automotive product incubator in Toronto, Canada. A fixture in the Canadian automotive digital landscape for 15 years, Brent is regularly a featured speaker at automotive events across North America and overseas. Brent’s energetic, comedic and uniquely engaging presentation style keeps him in demand at events such as the Digital Dealer Conference, Innovative Dealer Summit and the Canadian AutoDealer Innovation Series.
Started in the car business in 1988 as a sales person with no car experience. After a few short weeks I knew this was my passion. Moved thru the ranks over the next 10 years in sales, finance, management and was presented with a opportunity to purchase my own store. In 1998 purchased a family owned Nissan store, relocated it and built a new store from the ground up. Realized then getting involved with our state association and having a voice for this great industry was a must. Joined the association after opening my store and few years later joined the board. Community was very important to me and giving back was forefront. I had a great store doing well and even though had been told not to buy a Nissan store I was going to prove these people wrong. It’s a people business and I had the best people. In 2009 I became the first woman president of WSADA (Washington State Auto Dealers Association) in 90 years of there existence. This was one of my greatest accomplishments to represent my fellow dealers during a time I never believed I would see in our industry. I spent the next year fighting for tougher franchise laws. I sold my Nissan store took a little time off and now am a manager of Auburn Volkswagen doing what I love, Helping others! I am married for 30 years and have 2 wonderful sons. My father always taught me if you believe in it you can accomplish it and I have been blessed to say I have accomplished it.. Never stop believing.
Doug Austin is the founder and President of StrategicSource, Inc., the leading provider of Spend Management Services (strategy, spend mapping, purchasing, sourcing, process improvement and audit) for the automotive and truck dealerships, and various other vertical markets. StrategicSource, Inc. currently supports hundreds of single point, group and mega-group dealerships all over the United States and Canada with the spend management services. Doug is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas, and a speaker at various conferences and 20 Groups. Doug has been married to the former Peggy Englund for 37 years and have three adult children, six grandchildren and three more on the way. Doug has acquired over 30 years of line, staff and executive experience in Spend Management and Supply Chain Management in various vertical markets. Doug is also a trainer, speaker and consultant on the Spend Management, Supply Chain and Procurement disciplines.
Celeste D. Briggs
As one of the founding members of the GM Women’s Retail Network (WRN) 15 years ago, Celeste is at the forefront of increasing the female presence in the automotive industry by attracting women into the GM retail organization and making the dealership environment attractive to female customers and employees. She was named Director of the WRN, the first and only network of its kind, in January 2011. She is responsible for the profitability, growth and retention of the network and leveraging its resources to increase GM’s market share among women consumers. During her 30-year distinguished career in the automotive industry, she has served in sales, service, network planning and distribution positions throughout the country. She is the architect of a variety of innovative, cost-saving retail initiatives and is well-acquainted with the daily workings of a dealership – and the customers and communities they serve. Looking ahead, Celeste is executing several programs to more closely align and leverage women dealers in the GM product design process and attract more women into automotive retail through initiative, such as Women’s Retail Network “Drive to Succeed” scholarship.
Evelyn, co-owner of Freedom Auto Group and General Manager of their Harrisburg, Pennsylvania location, is celebrating her 34th year in the automotive industry. She and her family relocated to Pennsylvania in 2006. Evelyn’s challenging youth likely set the stage for her success, as her humble beginnings provided the desire and encouragement needed for her pursuance of The American Dream. Evelyn was previously the General Manager of World Ford in Kendall, FL and AutoNation Dodge of Pembroke Pines, FL. Her career has included responsibilities such as leading all departments and directing all sales, promotions, marketing and public relations activities; purchasing of new and used vehicle inventories; and participating in the design and piloting of new sales management systems. But the most rewarding aspect of her co-ownership of Freedom Auto Group, has been the dealership’s relentless pursuit of perfecting the Life Improvement business. The Freedom culture is based on putting people first and continuing to find new ways to bring value to not only the customer, but also the employee and the community at large.
A nationally acclaimed speaker and lecturer, Linda utilized the Fifth Gear Sales Approach and increased sales revenue of AutoBuilders General Contracting Services by finding, meeting and understanding many of the America’s Top 125 Automotive Groups and Dealer Principals. Linda was personally responsible for “reaching the unreachable in the industry”, meeting with leaders from Sonic, Asbury, DCH, Chrysler Realty, Atlantic Automotive Group, Celebrity Motorcars, Berkshire Hathaway, Group 1, Sewell Automotive, Lehman, Garber Management, AutoNation, Lithia and many more. Her record sales earned her top performer status, with $54 million in sales in a 12-month period. “Meeting with the CEOs and Dealer Principals and directly communicating with decision makers is key to generating new business and understanding the unique culture of each store,” she says. AutoBuilders General Contracting Services completed more than 260 stores in the past 26 years.
Amy Bannor is a seven-year employee of the Corwin Automotive Group, with experience in management, sales, and training. Her current role as Internet Manager has offered her the perfect scenario to grow her brand “Just A Girl Selling Cars” into something her customers respond to and enjoy. Her strong passion for encouraging women in professional fields and sharing her experiences has led her to be featured in the Automotive News “40 under 40” for 2015; a full page in her local Fargo InForum Business pages; the Auto Dealer Live “Women Who Rock Automotive”; and an “Industry Champion” nomination from CDK global. Her most recent recognition was “Salesperson of the Year 2015” within her Corwin CDJR dealership. Amy loves to be the loudest voice in the room to say, “GO, LADIES …WE CAN DO THIS!”
Melanie Batenchuk is the founder and editor of Be Car Chic, which contains industry news and advice through the lens of her experience and passion for cars and writing. Melanie has worked at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels, gaining a deep understanding of the complexities of the auto industry. She most recently served as Vice President at Beekeeper Group, a public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C., where she provided strategic communications, PR, writing, blogger relations and social media to help clients achieve their goals. Melanie recently completed a second term as president of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA), which connects automotive journalists in the Washington, D.C. area to auto industry executives, federal regulators and Administration representatives. Her distracted driving campaign (Distraction Free Fridays), launched during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in 2011, gained her recognition as a top voice in the areas of consumer advice and distracted driving. Her work has been published by Autoweek, Carfax.com, eBayMotors.com, Mashable.com, MSN Autos, Jalopnik and other Websites.
Marc S. Bland
As the Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for IHS Automotive, Marc develops and enhances his company’s business opportunities within the growing and diverse automotive market. He also ensures that their broad suite of products and custom solutions addresses the unique marketing needs of those seeking to reach the African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Women, Military and LGBT automotive communities. Marc is a highly sought-after speaker whose thought leadership has been published in the following books: The 85% Niche: The Power of Women of All Colors – Latina, Black, and Asian by Miriam Muley; Black Is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans by Leonard E. Burnett & Andrea Hoffman; and Black Still Matters in Marketing by Pepper Miller. His work has also been featured in Advertising Age, Automotive News, Black Enterprise, Hispanic Business, The Michigan Chronicle and TargetMarketNews.com. Marc has received numerous national and global accolades for his efforts in the growing diverse market, most recently garnering the prestigious 2015 National Diversity Advocate Award from the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD).
Jennifer Briggs is a certified Business Intelligence Designer and an “accidental car guy” who fell in love with the automotive business. Her passion for excellence and commitment to precision have earned her repeated awards and acknowledgements, including most recently being named to the Automotive News “40 under 40” class of 2015. With more than 13 years of professional leadership experience in retail sales, marketing, operations and finance, Jennifer is known across the industry for using process, data, and managing metrics to help dealerships reach the next level of success in their operations.
One of the most important faces in the automotive industry, Lisa is a dedicated pioneer in the field of automotive sales and brand strategy who has more than 25 years of proven success. Named among the Top 100 Women in the Automotive Industry in 2015 by Automotive News, Lisa has dedicated her career to revolutionizing the automotive industry. She served four years on the FCA National Dealer Council and was named one of the Five Most Powerful Women in Austin by The Austin Business Journal in 2012. She and her team were the first FIAT retailer to break NAFTA sales record by selling more than 100 new FIAT 500s in one month. That impressive record earned them a personal visit by FCA Chairman Sergio Marchionne.
In 2016, Lisa sold her award-winning dealership to pursue her passion for leading a team committed to transforming businesses and promote corporate civility and winning cultures. She joined the leadership team at The Culture Works as the Head of Automotive Retail Strategies.
She has keynoted at many events, including Texas Women’s Conference, Automotive Leadership Round Table, Digital Dealer, NADA and her personal favorite – the inaugural Women in Automotive Conference in 2015. With extensive knowledge of hiring, training and retaining diverse candidates, Lisa/FIAT of Austin earned recognition as the #6 Best workplace in North America by Automotive News in both 2013 and 2015; and Northwood University named Copeland an “Outstanding Business Leader 2014”.
In 2015, Copeland and FIAT of Austin earned FCA’s highest honor, the “Walter P. Chrysler” award for sales and service excellence. With passion and expertise in sales and marketing, her success story has been featured in prominent publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Marie Claire and Automotive News.
Copeland is also the co-founder of Women Impacting the Nation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing leadership roles for women. In 2012, the Girl Scouts CTX named her among their “Women of Distinction”; and as the creator of BuyingCarsHerWay.com, she is dedicated to empowering women consumers. Lisa and Rene Banglesdorf, Co-Founder of Crushing It Academy, have a book due out late summer entitled Crushing Mediocrity.
Twitter: @LisaCCopeland https://twitter.com/lisaccopeland
Linked In: LisaCopeland https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaccopeland
Facebook: LisaCopeland https://www.facebook.com/Lisa-Copeland-175687282480593/
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