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!
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 33,000 team members.
Most recently, Nicole served as Sr. Director of Cox Automotive Global Learning, and led learning for Inventory Solutions, Retail Solutions, Client Success and People Strategies. In 2016 Nicole and her team successfully implemented the Client Experience program, Heads Up, which prepared our auction team members to provide stellar service to our clients. This program resulted in our client engagement scores up by 3 points, which positively impacted revenue.
Before joining the Cox family of companies, 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.
With over 25 years of proven success, Lisa is a dedicated pioneer in the field of automotive sales and brand strategy. She has been a trailblazer to revolutionize the automotive industry and has received many awards and recognitions along the way.
Copeland sold her award-winning dealership in 2016 to share her knowledge and expertise as a leading female consumer advocate, brand strategist and Keynote Speaker.
Lisa founded Cars Her Way in 2014. Lisa and her team through technology help dealers and OEMs authentically market to in-market female shoppers as well as help their clients create female-centric strategies and platforms.
She is also the co-author of Crushing Mediocrity: 10 Ways to Rise Above the Status Quo. Her new book “The Art of The Big Sell is set to release in December 2018
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 V. 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.
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.
A sport that takes strength, adrenaline, speed and risk-taking also demands respect and knowledge. After 10 years of accomplishments, Shea Holbrook has become a nationally recognized racecar driver, 6-Time Pirelli World Challenge Winner and team owner. Featured in espnW and Autoweek, Holbrook is recognized as a leading Woman in Motorsport and representative of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
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.
Ashley Lepczyk is the Retail Development Manager on Google’s Auto Retail team. She collaborates with dealers, dealer groups, OEMs and agency partner to consult to develop effective and scalable programs using Google solutions that drive results for her clients. She co-leads Women@Google in Detroit, & has a particular soft spot for connecting with and empowering other women.
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”.
Jennifer Newman is the Editor-in-Chief at Cars.com where she leads editorial content ranging from car reviews and video production, to news content and original reporting. Newman has been with Cars.com since 2008 serving in various roles from copy editor, senior editor and managing editor. Newman is a certified car-seat technician and installs child-safety seats into test cars for Cars.com’s Car Seat Checks. Prior to Cars.com, Newman worked at the Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Herald, and The Times of Northwest Indiana. Newman received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons.
Elaine Richards serves as the Executive Vice President of Business Operations for Cars.com and oversees the integration and onboarding strategies for new company acquisitions. She also leads the DealerRater strategy to ensure alignment of Cars.com’s extensive operational touchpoints. Richards is responsible for operationalizing the long-term vision for the company, supporting future growth.
David Villa is the founder and CEO of iPD, a marketing, media and training firm based in Tampa, Florida. Since it’s inception in 1995, David has been responsible for growing IPD into one of the nation’s leading marketing companies within the automotive industry, and beyond. He is dedicated to his family, his employees, and his faith as a Christian. David has said that his passion lies in seeing others unlock their god-given potential, and utilize their talent to the fullest.
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.