2017 Keynote Speakers

We’re currently accepting applications for the upcoming Women in Automotive Conference! Check back here or subscribe for updates when we announce the Keynote Speaker Selections for the July 2017 Conference!

Shari Fitzpatrick

Shari Fitzpatrick

Founder
Shari's Berries

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Ralph Gilles

Ralph Gilles

Head of Design
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

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Sharon Lechter

Sharon Lechter

Founder & CEO
Pay Your Family First

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Alex Vetter

Alex Vetter

Chief Executive Officer and President
Cars.com

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Jeffery Tobias Halter

Jeffery Tobias Halter

President
YWomen

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Lisa Copeland

Lisa Copeland

Head of Automotive Retail Strategies
The Culture Works

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Brent Wees

Brent Wees

Director of First Impressions
NextUp

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Elaine Richards

Elaine Richards

Executive Vice President Business Operations
Cars.com

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Emily Miller

Emily Miller

President
Soulside Network

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Nicole Ashe

Nicole Ashe

Senior Vice President Talent, Diversity and Culture
Cox Automotive

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Bill Wittenmyer

Bill Wittenmyer

Partner
ELEAD1ONE

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Shari Fitzpatrick

Shari Fitzpatrick


Shari Fitzpatrick is the creator of the world’s famous line of gourmet-dipped strawberries, the renowned Shari’s Berries. Shari’s love affair with strawberries began as a little girl with a strawberry patch that her Father planted for her each summer. They quickly became her favorite fruit. Later while working as a mortgage broker in Los Angeles she began making potential clients handmade chocolate dipped strawberries. The incredible popularity of these memorable edible gifts soon outpaced the success of her original career. Her entrepreneurial path also led her to become a successful stockbroker and auto dealership finance manager.

In 1989, with a $1,500 cash advance, having just moved to a new town, Shari took her passion and hobby of chocolate dipping strawberries and turned it into a business.

An acclaimed inspirational speaker, and now author, Shari entertains audiences of all ages and backgrounds while sharing her down-to-earth, heartfelt business story. Appealing to anyone who has a dream, she’ll take your group on an emotional journey as she intertwines the successes in her life along with her mistakes. Shari’s new book, “Berried in Chocolate,” points out the importance of family, faith and fearlessness while revealing how God became her best business partner and that faith and street smarts can be just as useful as a college degree.

Today Shari’s new boutique brand of gourmet chocolate dipped gifts can be exclusively found at BerriedinChocolate.com and are shipped nationwide all year round.

For 25 years, Shari’s story and her creations have attracted international attention through appearances in O Magazine, on the Today Show, on Food Network, The Apprentice, In Style Magazine, People Magazine, The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, QVC, HSN and Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul.


Ralph Gilles

Ralph Gilles


Ralph V. Gilles was appointed Head of Design, FCA – Global in April 2015.

Gilles has also served as the Senior Vice President – Product Design and President and CEO – Motorsports, FCA – North America; President and CEO – SRT Brand and President and CEO – Dodge brand for FCA US LLC. He was named Vice President – Design in September 2008.

Since first joining the Company in 1992 as a designer, Gilles has put his extensive academic background in industrial design and business administration to use, holding various positions within the Company, including:

• 2015 – current, Head of Design, FCA – Global
• 2011, President and CEO – Motorsports, FCA US LLC
• 2011, President and CEO – SRT Brand
• 2009, President and CEO – Dodge Brand
• 2009, Senior Vice President – Product Design, FCA – North America
• 2008, Vice President – Design, Chrysler LLC
• 2006, Vice President – Jeep®/Truck, Color and Trim Studios, and Specialty Vehicles, Chrysler LLC, DaimlerChrysler
• 2005, Director – Truck Exterior/Interior Design Studio
• 2001, Director – Design Office, Large Car Studio, Family Vehicles
• 1999, Senior Manager – Design Office, Studio 3
• 1998, Manager – Design Office, Jeep Interiors, Chrysler Corporation
• 1992, Designer – Design Office

Gilles is extremely active inside and outside the Company. He serves as the executive sponsor of the Chrysler African American Network (CAAN) in addition to playing a supporting role with The Chrysler Global Diversity Council. He also serves on the board of the Michigan Design Council. At his alma mater, The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Gilles is a member of the CCS Board of Trustees and the CCS Capital Committee.
An avid car enthusiast who enjoys spending time at the track, go-karting and watching Formula One auto racing, Gilles has participated in the Mille Miglia, Targa Newfoundland Rally, the Car and Driver One Lap of America and the SRT Viper Cup Series. In addition, he has frequently served as a judge at various Concours d’Elegance events across the country including Pebble Beach, the Inn at St. John and Cranbrook, as well as the EyesOn Design car show.

Gilles has earned numerous academic and industry awards, including: The Michigan State University Eli Broad Graduate School of Management Young Alumni Achievement Award, The Automotive Hall of Fame Young Leadership & Excellence Award, NV Magazine Innovation Award, Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and N’Digo Foundation N’Design Award.

Gilles holds a Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University (2002) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (1992).

Gilles was born in New York City.


Sharon Lechter

Sharon Lechter


Sharon Lechter is a financial literacy expert, an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, international speaker, licensed CPA, Chartered Global Management Accountant and, most importantly a mother and grandmother. A life-long education advocate, she is the founder and CEO of Pay Your Family First, a financial education organization dedicated to providing the tools and mentorship to support families, women, and entrepreneurs in reaching their greatest success around the globe. Regarded as a global expert on financial literacy, Sharon has served as a national spokeswoman and Presidential Advisor on the topic.

Sharon has been a pioneer in developing new technologies, programs and products to bring education into children’s lives in ways that are innovative, challenging and fun, and remains committed to education – particularly financial literacy. In 1989 she joined forces with the inventor of the first electronic ‘talking book’ and helped him expand the electronic book industry to a multi-million dollar international market.

In 1997 Sharon co-authored the international bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad, along with 14 other books in the Rich Dad series. Over 10 years as co-Founder and CEO she led the Rich Dad Company and brand into an international powerhouse. In 2008 she was asked by the Napoleon Hill Foundation to help re-energize the powerful teachings of Napoleon Hill just as the international economy was faltering. She has released three bestselling books in cooperation with the Foundation, including Think and Grow Rich-Three Feet from Gold, Outwitting the Devil and Think and Grow Rich for Women. Sharon has also released Save Wisely, Spend Happily, in cooperation with the American Institute of CPAs.

Her financial literacy board game ThriveTime for Teens, an innovative experiential and fun life and money reality game, has gained recognition with coveted awards including a Mom’s Choice GOLD Award, Creative Child Magazine’s 2010 Game of The Year, Dr. Toy’s Best Vacation Product and a five-star rating from WTS Toy Reviews. Sharon is recognized globally as an expert on the topics of financial education and entrepreneurship. She is the author of Your Financial Mastery, a financial education college curriculum and recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Financial Literacy Education “#1 Book of the Year” award presented by the Financial Literacy Institute.

In 2008 Sharon was appointed to the first President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The Council served both President Bush and President Obama advising them on the need for financial literacy education. In 2009 Sharon was appointed to the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission as a national spokesperson on the topic of financial literacy and was reappointed in 2014.

A committed philanthropist, Sharon also gives back to world communities as both a volunteer and benefactor. Sharon serves on the national board of the Women Presidents’ Organization, and the national board of Childhelp, a national organization founded to prevent and treat child abuse. Sharon has also been an Instructor for Thunderbird School of Global Management for both its Artemis Program and its partnership with the U.S. Department of State and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program. Sharon was the driving force behind the passage of Arizona SB1449 in June of 2013, a bill that requires financial literacy concepts to permanently be incorporated into economics standards and created a separate statue for those concepts.

Sharon’s contributions have been recognized globally. Childhelp has honored Sharon and her husband, Michael, as recipients of the Spirit of the Children Award. Sharon was recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of 2013’s 25 Dynamic Women in Business, and by National Bank of Arizona with the 2013 Woman of the Year award and Arizona Business Magazine as one of the 50 most Influential Women in Arizona Business. In 2015 Sharon was honored by Florida State University’s Women for FSU with a Gift of Wisdom Award, Women Presidents’ Organization with the Mary Lehman MacLachlan Economic Empowerment award and by the National Financial Educators Council as the Financial Educator of the Year for 2015. Sharon was also honored with the prestigious 2015 International Profilo Donna Award by Profile Woman.

In 2016, Sharon was inducted into the Personal Growth Hall of Fame, as the first woman to join the industry greats of Bob Proctor, Les Brown and Denis Waitley. In addition, Sharon was honored by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Habitude Warriors Conference. Sharon won the Gold Medal in the 2016 Money Games sponsored by GoBankingRates.com. For more information, please visit www.sharonlechter.com.


Alex Vetter

Alex Vetter



Jeffery Tobias Halter

Jeffery Tobias Halter


Jeffery Tobias Halter is a gender strategist and the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women’s leadership issues. YWomen focuses on driving actionable business plans and strategies to help organizations create Integrated Women’s Leadership Strategies along with strategies to disrupt unconscious gender bias. Jeffery is the former Director of Diversity Strategy for The Coca-Cola Company.
A featured keynote speaker, Jeffery is author of two books, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men and Selling to Men, Selling to Women. He is a contributing writer to HuffPost, New York Daily News, Working Mother magazine and is a two-time TEDx speaker. His work has been profiled in Forbes, US News & World Report and The Atlantic. He is a regular contributor to Fox Business Radio and Good Morning Charlotte.
Recently Jeffery introduced two initiatives designed to drive male engagement and gender dialogue in the workforce. His Father of Daughter Initiative, 10 Simple Things Men Can Do Support Women’s Leadership Advancement outlines daily actions men can make to advocate for women at work. His bi-weekly newsletter, Gender Conversation Quickstarters is designed to help organizations have more effective discussions about gender and diversity in the workplace.
His clients and best practice work includes two Catalyst award winning companies, The Coca-Cola Company and Kimberly-Clark as well as Mercedes-Benz USA, McDonald’s, Deloitte, Novartis, GE, Walmart, and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies. He has taught Business Communications at Georgia State University and has been a guest lecturer at The Goizueta Business School at Emory University and the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. He was a Panelist at the World Diversity Leadership Summit at Harvard University and led workshops at the Global Summit of Women in Athens Greece.


Lisa Copeland

Lisa Copeland


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/

Instagram:       LisaCCopeland           https://www.instagram.com/lisaccopeland/

 

 


Brent Wees

Brent Wees


Brent Wees is the “Director of First Impressions” for Nextup and has been a fixture in the North American automotive digital landscape for almost 20 years. Brent’s energetic, comedic and uniquely engaging presentation style keeps him in demand around the globe at events such as the Digital Dealer Conference, World-Shopper, Auto-Retail Network Summit, Women in Automotive and the Canadian Auto Dealer Innovation Series. Brent also has the good fortune of being a featured columnist/guest for automotive publications and podcasts in the US, Canada, and England.

Entrepreneur. 12 Stepper. Punk. Brent challenges all those he interacts with to “Do 1 Thing Different Today”.


Elaine Richards

Elaine Richards



Emily Miller

Emily Miller


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”.


Nicole Ashe

Nicole Ashe


Award-winning Talent Management Executive and Senior Level Change Leader with expertise directing global organizations to success through consultative partnerships and strategic business engagement.

Nicole Ashe leads the Talent Organization for Cox Automotive, which includes the Global Learning, Organizational Development, Performance Management, Diversity & Inclusion and Culture teams. Her organization supports over 35,000 team members across the globe.

Today, Nicole’s teams are focused on attracting, developing, progressing and retaining talent across Cox Automotive.

Most recently, Nicole served as Vice President of Talent Management and prior to that was Sr. Director of Cox Automotive Global Learning, and led learning for all team members across the organization.

Before joining the Cox family of companies in 2014, Nicole held various executive leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies including Delta Dental Insurance Company, Cbeyond, Wachovia Bank & Bank of America.

Nicole is an award-winning Talent Management leader with more than 23 years of professional experience. Under her direction, teams have won the coveted Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) BEST Award and Training Magazine’s Top 125 award—both sought after, industry specific distinctions.


Bill Wittenmyer

Bill Wittenmyer


Bill serves as a partner of ELEAD1ONE, the leading dealership software provider in today’s automotive market. He has over 20 years experience in the automotive space and currently oversees multiple divisions within the organization, including sales, marketing, OEM relationships and large-client accounts.

Highly regarded as a dynamic and motivational speaker, as well as an industry leader with non-traditional views, Wittenmyer speaks at several prominent automotive forums each year and contributes to top news publications and television business shows that reach industry business leaders across the U.S.

Prior to joining ELEAD1ONE, Bill spent several years in the automotive retail space holding various retail positions in operations management. He earned his degree from Ashland University and took post-graduate courses at Georgia Southern University.