Women’s Automotive Association International Names Spirit of Leadership Honorees
Six accomplished industry women have been chosen to receive the esteemed 2015 Spirit of Leadership Award. Established in 1999, the WAAI's "Spirit of Leadership" award is presented annually to professional women in the automotive industry in recognition of their significant accomplishments in their profession, community, and family.
These women have dedicated their life to their profession and to giving back to others; and they serve as mentors and are role models to us all. Sustained superior performance, community involvement, influence and support of other women within the automotive industry are just some of the qualities these women possess. A Spirit of Leadership award is given for three automotive business sectors: 1) manufacturer, 2) dealership, and 3) supplier.
This year’s honorees represent diverse segments of the auto industry:
As one of the founding members of the GM Women’s Retail Network (WRN) ten years ago, Celeste has been 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. Celeste 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.
Luanne is company founder and President of eToolDevelopers, a Web-based content management platform that includes online cataloging and eCommerce capability. In focusing eTools efforts on the automotive aftermarket, Luanne is very involved in the industry and currently serves on the board of directors of SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), is chair of its SEMA Cares charitable committee and a member of the SEMA Business Technology Committee. She has become one of the industry’s leading experts, conducting numerous seminars on internet marketing and advertising at the SEMA Show, the Aftermarket eForum, the Off Road Impact Show, Hot Rod and Restoration Trade Show, PRI (Performance Racing Industry) trade show, and various AAIA (now the Auto Care Association) events.
Ruth is founder and CEO of the Fruehauf Trailer Historical Society. She authored “Singing Wheels,” a biographical essay commemorating the centennial founding of the Freuhauf Trailer Company. She is a graduate of Cranbrook Preparatory schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the American University in Paris.
Deb is a Luxury Automotive Marketing senior strategist, specializing in brand building and luxury lifestyle programs. Deb provides executive-level global communications and partnership marketing expertise within the luxury and automotive arenas, where she has been a brand builder at the international agency, corporate and consulting levels, while growing worldwide and domestic presence for national and international companies. A leading priority during her career has been her contribution to charitable activities including serving as a Board member for the Danville d’Elegance Foundation, an annual weekend of automotive charity-related events that benefit Parkinson’s research and patient care.
Susan is the former vice chairman of DCH Auto Group and the 2008 recipient of WAAI’s Professional Achievement Award; she now serves as president of the DCH Charitable Foundation, which funds an array of nationally recognized teen safe driving programs in partnerships between DCH Auto Group employees and local high schools in all of the communities in which DCH conducts its business. She served as a Member of the Board of both the New York State Auto Dealers Association and the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. She is the recipient of the 2008 Women’s Automotive Association International Professional Achievement Award, the 2010 Women Certified Vision Award and was selected by Automotive News as one of the top 100 women in the North American auto industry in 2010. Scarola was included in New Jersey’s 2012 Best 50 Women in Business and is the 2014 recipient of the Barbara Cox Anthony Automotive Women of the Year award.
The women will be honored at the 16th Annual Spirit of Leadership Awards Reception on Saturday, January 24, 2015, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at a.Muse Gallery in San Francisco, where attendees will be treated to a guest appearance and exhibit by Nicola Woods, master of classic automobile paintings. The reception is being held in conjunction with the 2015 NADA Convention. A portion of the event proceeds will be contributed to the WAAI International Scholarship Program, which provides tuition assistance to qualified students pursuing careers in the automotive industry.
“The women we’ve chosen to honor this year are noted not just for their extraordinary careers, but also as role models and mentors in the automotive industry and their community,” said Lorraine Schultz, WAAI founder and CEO. “They truly embody the spirit of leadership, and we are proud to recognize their achievements. We also extend deep appreciation to our Diamond Sponsor, Auto Trader.com, Kelley Blue Book and Manheim, for their outstanding support of our Spirit of Leadership Awards Reception.”
Founded in 1995, WAAI focuses on recognizing the achievements of women in the automotive industry, providing networking and relationship-building opportunities, and encouraging growth through mentoring, educational endeavors and scholarships.
For additional information on the awards reception, including sponsorship and advertising opportunities, and to purchase tickets, visit the WAAI website,www.waai.com. Or email to Lynn Wilhelm, WAAI president, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 248.646.5250.