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February 04, 2016

Women’s Automotive Association International Names 2016 Spirit of Leadership Honorees

Women_in_Automotive-Spirit_of_leadership_award-2016Five accomplished industry women have been chosen to receive the esteemed 2016 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:

Mandi_Fang-headshotMandi Fang
vAuto, VP, Product Management

Mandi Fang is vice president of product management for vAuto. She oversees the ongoing development, growth and innovation of the company’s new and used vehicle inventory management solutions for dealers and OEMs. In this role, Mandi works closely with key internal and external stakeholders to prioritize and pursue product initiatives that advance the goals of vAuto and Cox Automotive business units to better serve dealer customers. Prior to vAuto, Mandi successfully held product development, management, customer relationship and sales roles with automotive industry leaders Reynolds & Reynolds and Digital Motorworks, earning multiple awards for her service. Mandi received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Morehead State University.

Shellie_Medici-headshotShellie Medici
FCA, Commodity Manager

Shellie Medici has a long history with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, having started with Chrysler more than 25 years ago. As a Commodity Manager, Shellie is responsible for the direct management of Corporate Outsourcing Initiatives, consulting services, and purchase services. In 2008, Shellie was honored with the “Champion of Supplier Diversity” Award acknowledging her significant contributions to supplier diversity by The Chrysler Foundation. Shellie is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration.

Christy_Roman-headshotChristy Roman
Founder of Women in Automotive Conference

A founding partner also of Women in Automotive, Christy Roman also works with other female industry leaders to create events aimed at empowering and developing women in auto. An entrepreneur with a background in advertising sales, management and a few online start-ups, Christy Roman has a unique perspective on advertising as it pertains to automotive and the Internet. Her claim to fame was developing and monetizing the Partnership Program (now the Premium Program) dealer initiative at which turned them into a classified advertising powerhouse and now generates hundreds of millions of dollars. Christy is a member of the Ask Patty Female Speaker's Bureau, and has been a past speaker at multiple dealer conferences including Digital Dealer, PCG Digital Boot Camp, AutoCon, Dealer 20 Groups, Dealer Think Tank, and Joni Stuker Training. Christy holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Kathy_gilbert-headshot2Kathy Gilbert
Director of Sales and Business Development for CDK Global, Inc

Kathy Gilbert 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 $60M in revenue. Kathy has over 20 years with CDK, 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. Kathy continues to partner with internal and external stakeholders to deliver unique, personalized experiences for our clients and to showcase our products and services.

Michelle_Primm-headshotMichelle Primm
Cascade Auto Group

Michelle Primm began her automotive career as a high school student doing filing for the service department at Cascade Auto Group 40 years ago. During high school summer breaks, she worked in Parts then moved to the office during college. After completing her Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in Finance and Economics at Kent State University she became Business Manager, then General Manager. Currently Managing Partner, Michelle is a graduate of the NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. She has represented Women Dealers on the NADA Board of Directors for more than eight years; in 2015 she was honored by Crain's Cleveland Business as "A Woman of Note," and received the Barbara Cox Anthony Automotive Woman of the Year Award from Cox Automotive. She has also volunteered for the "Youth for Understanding USA" organization for more than 15 years.

The_D-Hotel-Las_VegasThese five women will be honored at the 17th Annual Spirit of Leadership Awards Reception on Saturday, April 2, 2016, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the D Hotel in Las Vegas, during which attendees will also enjoy an exciting Automotive Art Experience with renowned artist Daniel Cascardo.  The reception is being held in conjunction with the 2016 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. A special presentation will also be made to a local nonprofit organization to help women.

"We are honored to be able to award these outstanding women who have shown exemplary leadership in both their personal and professional lives", says Lynn Wilhelm, President and CEO of the Women's Automotive Association International. "We salute their efforts and accomplishments and hope they will continue to inspire more to excel in the industry. We also extend deep appreciation to Cox Automotive as our presenting sponsor and Northwood University for their outstanding support of our Spirit of Leadership Awards Reception.”

Women_in_automotive_conference_logoFounded 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, Or email to Lynn Wilhelm, WAAI president,, or call 248.646.5250.

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