Newsletter - 2017 Print

    Women with Drive

     As they say, time flies when you’re having fun – or when you’re busy! And AWAF has been both! This year has been incredibly busy for AWAF; and we hope you’ve been able to participate in some (if not all) of the great activities and events that have occurred over this past year.

    Back to top

    Giving Tuesday

    #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. At AWAF we are passionate about fueling women in the automotive industry! Thanks to generous sponsors, we have given over $344,000 in scholarships to women with automotive career aspirations. We are also committed to working collectively to support and empower our members and future members to achieve their dreams in such an exciting and fast-paced industry.

    Today, you can help us accomplish this mission! By donating to AWAF on #GivingTuesday you will accelerate our mission and vision in advancing the status of women in the Automotive Industry. So as you kick off your Holiday season, don’t forget to give back, reach out and make an impact by supporting the Automotive Women's Alliance Foundation scholarship program! Donate today here. (Note click quantity one and then type in the amount you wish to donate.)


    Back to top

    We hope to see you Tuesday, Dec 12th for our Annual Holiday event with Beverly Gaskin

    Beverly was appointed GM Executive Director for GPSC Global Purchasing-Propulsion Systems in March 2014. Gaskin joined GM from Rolls Royce where she was Executive Vice President, supply chain management, in North and South America. She has also held purchasing director positions at Delphi Steering and Delphi Product Solutions and Systems.

    Gaskin currently serves on the Institute for Supply Managements® Board of Directors and previously served two terms on the CAPS Board of Directors. 

    When: Tuesday December 12, 2017 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

    Cost: $60 AWAF members $70 Non-Members

    To register, more details, and read more about our guest speaker, visit our website.


    Back to top

    Save The Date For These Upcoming Events

    The events committee is working hard planning events for 2018 including traditional favorites like Pumps & Power and Fireside Chats as well as new venues and themes for networking, socializing, and professional development. Look for details about our Auto Show Mixer in January soon! 


    Back to top

    Past Event Highlights

    Below are recaps of this past year's events with several photos. To see all the photos for each event visit our photo gallery here.

    Spring Forward Event on March 30, 2017 at the Big Rock Chophouse, Biringham - nearly 80 attendees enjoyed an evening where Kelley LaFontaine of LaFontaine Automotive Group asked questions of interest to our AWAF president Linda Taliaferro of Meritor about her career and industry insights.  Special thank you to LaFontaine Automotive Group for sponsoring this event.



    Wine Tasting - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at The Whitney, Detroit  -  nearly 100 attendees enjoyed mingling with fellow automotive colleagues while tasting different wines and enjoying delicious hors d'oeuvres. Although the event moved from a garden party outside to the inside due to rain, all had a wonderful time. Special thank you to K-Tec Systems for sponsoring the valet for this event.



    Leadership in Motion - Thursday, September 28, 2017 at Faurecia's North American Headquarters, Auburn Hills - over 100 people came to hear industry experts Glenn Stevens of Detroit Regional Chamber, Chris Rau of Faurecia North America,Lisa Lunsford of GS3 Global and Judy Curran of Ford Motor Company speak about the challenges facing the automotive industry. Mary Beth Vander Schaaf of Automotive News was the moderator of this event. Special thank you to Faurecia for sponsoring this evening.

    Pumps and Power with Linda Theisen - Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at Sundance Shoes West Bloomfield - As has become the tradition, Pumps & Power was a fabulous evening!  This always popular event offered 75 women and one man the opportunity to mingle with fellow automotive professionals (both seasoned veterans and young up-and-comers), enjoy delicious nibbles, hear from an outstanding successful female executive, cheer well-deserving scholarship recipients – and shop for shoes!  Our featured speaker for the evening was no stranger to AWAF. Linda Theisen, now VP of Global Supply Chain & Strategic Sourcing at Mattel, Inc., grew up in the auto industry – having spent 20 years at Ford before transitioning into the supply base where she rose to the top in purchasing for Metaldyne.


    When an opportunity to join Fisker Automotive presented itself, Linda relocated to the west coast and not long after was recruited by Mattel – confirming once again that automotive skills and experience are highly sought after by non-automotive industries. Though she’s now a California girl, Linda’s heart remains with the automotive industry – and the feeling is apparently mutual as evidenced by the number of former Ford colleagues in attendance that evening. Linda shared her journey from the automotive industry to consumer products – specifically, the toy industry – and both the opportunities and the challenges that were inherent in that move. One of Linda’s key points was how important professional networks and associations – like AWAF – are in supporting women in the auto industry. Those types of networks are nonexistent in the toy industry – and she misses that support! And though joining Mattel has been an exciting move for her – especially with the competitive challenges facing the company at present in the toy industry, Linda would never rule out an opportunity to return to the auto industry. It was her first love – and first loves always hold a special place in our hearts!


    The program portion of the evening concluded with the awarding of two scholarships to two very deserving young women. Alexandra Nowicki, a sophomore studying transportation design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI, is a two-time recipient and received a scholarship sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Brianna Jodzis, a junior studying mechanical engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, was the recipient of a scholarship sponsored by Meritor – and also became our first “sister” scholarship recipient as her sister, Alexandra, was a previous AWAF scholarship awardee. Then it was back to mingling and shoe shopping to round out a very enjoyable 6th annual Pumps & Power event!

    Fireside Chat with Karen Leggio - Wednesday, November 15 at home of Kim Ziomek  - Forty (40) AWA Foundation members met in an intimate home setting to hear a delightful backstory and words of wisdom from Karen Leggio, VP and Chief Supply Chain Officer for TE Connectivity.  Karen shared that some of the best jobs in her life were ones that great leaders pushed her to take, her favorite part of work is talent development and the most important thing to ensure balance is to have a network.  She encouraged all of us to have roots someplace – pick a role, be a business partner and really understand your business.  Karen told us that everyone once in a while, “you have to show your teeth.” Just as important, “weigh in with all of your breadth of experience” when you are in a meeting – don’t sit silent.


     All enjoyed a delicious meal and comradery.  AWAF events committee thanks Kim Ziomek and Linda Taliaferro for sponsoring the evening.  Fireside Chats are for members only; just one more great reason to join AWAF!


    Back to top

    Golf Outing

    Swinging “Fore” Scholarships Golf Outing - Monday, August 21, 2017 at Forest Lake Country Club, Bloomfield Hills - An 18 hole scramble to raise funds to support the AWAF Scholarship program. 2017 marked another very successful golf outing for AWAF, raising nearly $60,000. In partnership with ourvery generous sponsors, we awarded $17,500 in scholarships to 7 very deserving young women. Of course we could not forget the Solar Eclipse, as teams took time out of their golf game to catch a glimpse. We also had our renowned executive luncheon auction and fishbowl auction, too, which provided more opportunities to donate to our scholarship fund! So a big round of applause goes to our Golf Chairs, the golf committee, our generous sponsors and donors, RoseAnn Nicolai and her team at Nicolai Events & Communication – and, of course, Forest Lake Country Club – for bringing us such a wonderful event in support of our scholarship program! For all the photos from the event visit our photo gallery here.

    Our golf outing is historically our #1 fundraiser for our scholarship program; and proceeds from this event will support the scholarship fund. 2018 Golf outing is set  set for Tuesday, August 14 at Indianwood Country Club.


    Special Thank You to Our 2017 Golf Sponsors

    Eagle Sponsors

    Breakfast Sponsor

    Lunch Sponsor
    Leggett & Platt Automotive

     Cart Sponsor

    Birdie Sponsors


    Scholarship only Sponsors


    Par Sponsors
    Leggett & Platt Automotive Group

    Photography Sponsor

    Putting Contest Sponsors
    The Hunter Group LLC
    Elder Automotive Group


    Back to top

    Membership Corner


    Carlo Bailo was appointed by The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Board of Directors as CAR’s incoming President and Chief Executive Officer. Carla was the AVP - Mobility Research and Business Development at The Ohio State University and also sits on AWAF's Executive Advisory Council. Read more here

    Jeena Patel was honored once again as one of Crain's Detroit Business 40 Under 40 2017. Jeena is a member of law firm, Warner Norcross & Judd's Automotive and Litigation practice groups and is Vice President, General Counsel on the AWAF Board of Directors. Read more here about this award


    This Newsletter Featured Members

    Cathy Koch, President at K-Tec Systems Inc and AWAF Board of Directors Member Vice President, Supplier Relationships.

    How did you end up in the auto industry?
    I think the automotive industry has always been an important part of my life. My dad was a salesperson and co-owner of a car dealership and I actually grew up with cars. My first car was a sports car, an Austin-Healey Sprite. Thanks to my dad, I learned early how to change brakes and repair cars. That's probably why cars have always been very important to me, and also where my inclination for entrepreneurship came from. I studied business and marketing at the University of Cincinnati where I grew up. After my studies, my first job was in the retail industry for a shoe corporation in Cincinnati. Then I married a GM engineer. Soon I moved to Southeast Michigan where I began working in the temperature instrumentation field, in customer service, as it was my only way at that time to value my retail experience in a male-dominated industry. I was in charge of automotive accounts but also other industries. A few years later, I moved to a different company, still in the same industry, to fullfill my career dream: selling! I will always remember my first customer: General Motors. I guess my route in the automotive industry had begun. After working in all facets of the industry, I started my own business, K-Temp Control Systems, now K-Tec Systems, in 1989. K-Tec Systems is a global distributor and integrator of advanced control systems and has been a reliable source to the automotive industry for over 28 years.

    What is the most common challenge you face being a woman in the auto industry?
    When you sell a technical product in a male-dominated industry, it is tough to be taken seriously. It took me a long time to be confident and trust in the direction I was taking. I guess focusing on what I knew and what I was doing best helped me.

    Give us a fun fact about yourself?
    I have just completed a 250 squatt challenge and I am on my way to a plank challenge. You've probably noticed by now that I am very competitive and love to be challenged.


    Ann Kong, Uconnect Systems and Services Global Marketing at FCA.

    How did you end up in the auto industry?
    The real question is how I ended up in Michigan!  That story is best told over a few beers (or a few glasses of wine) since it begins with, “Once upon a time, I was working at Apple, in California, and met Mr. Wrong, who was born and raised in Michigan …”

     What is the most common challenge you face being a woman in the auto industry?
    Being a woman in business is tough.  Being a woman of color in business is even tougher.  Being a woman of color in the auto industry is the toughest of all.  However, every challenge in life is an opportunity to learn and grow.  (See first question …) 

    Give us a fun fact about yourself. 
    I am currently taking some online and on-site coding classes and am absolutely loving it!  


    Special Thanks to our GOLD STAR MEMBERS (as of Nov. 7, 2017)

    Fadi Aoude Digitisma Business Solutions   Christine Longroy SME Society of Manufacturing Engineers
    Thomas Apostolos Magna International    Lisa Lunsford Global Strategic Supply Solutions
    Kristen Balasia Wabco   Vanessa L. Miller Foley & Lardner LLP
    Angie Bournias Bournias & Bournias  Inc.   Sandra Nelson Johnson Controls Inc.
    Ann Bruttell Meeting Coordinators  Inc.   Patricia  Price AQUENT LLC
    Anya Cason Dakkota Integrated Systems   Susan Proctor Michigan Economic Development Corporation
    Alison  Daoust Centric Solutions Group   Susan Marie Rokosz Ford Motor Company
    Jan  Griffiths Inteva Products   Elizabeth Schmidt Atlas Tool
    Steve  Hellem Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP)   Katie Schultz Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC
    Sherry Muir Irwin  The Hunter Group LLC    Sunny Shinn Kotra
    Catherine Koch K-Tec Systems Inc.   Kathryn Smith Olin Brass
    Kelley LaFontaine LaFontaine Automotive Group   Laurie  Stefanka Linamar Corporation
    Maureen LaFontaine LaFontaine Automotive Group   Linda Taliaferro Meritor
    Jennifer Libin Automotive Profit Builders   Kellie  Treppa ON Semiconductor
          Kim Ziomek  WOCO Tech USA, Inc.


    Back to top

    Welcome New Members

    Welcome our 2017 New Members 

    Sherianne Adelsberg Raybridge LLC   Chloe Loftis Ford Motor Company
    Kristin Alafita GKN Driveline   Adeline Longstreth student
    Colleen Ameel Ford Motor Company   Erica Lonn Kennametal, Inc.
    Jazmin Anguiano ZF   Michelle Lytle Deloitte
    Linda Aubuchon Magna Exteriors   Julie Martin HELLA CorporateCenter USA
    Virginia Badour Magna Exteriors   Nancy McHugh Brookdale Community College
    Chantinique Baker Meritor   Sonya Moore Meritor Inc.
    Delaney Barr student   Lauryn Morrison Leggett & Platt Automotive Group
    Oshana Brooks-Moore Meritor   Karen Naida Strattec Security Corporation
    Kathleen Burgess KMB Advisors   Lauren Pershouse student
    Anne Marie Burns Faurecia   Karine Petit K-Tec Systems Inc.
    Ina Buzgar General Motors   Elaine Phillips student
    Anya Cason Dakkota Integrated Systems   Meghan Pierce Meritor Inc.
    Antonia Chin student   Shantha Kumari Rajendran Panasonic Automotive
    Natalie Chipot Faurecia   Vani Rao Meritor Inc.
    Jeannette Contreraz Plante Moran   Kathleen Rizk J.D. Power
    Kirsten Cook Meritor Inc.   Katie Roco Faurecia
    Laura Correa Continental Structural Plastics   Crystal Rodriguez HELLA Corporate Center USA
    Alison Daoust Centric Solutions Group   Anthony Rolli K-Tec Systems
    Phil DiLernia Barton Group Inc. Search / Recruiting   Libby Roop Deloitte
    Allison Elder student   Julie Rubidge Deloitte
    Nicole Ernst Friendly Ford Lincoln   Carolyn Sauer Hella
    Kimberly Fike student   Noelle Schiffer Campfire Interactive
    Maria Victoria Fought MassMutual Financial Group  Detroit Metro   Enisa Selimagic student
    Margi Fox HELLA Corporate Center USA   Lee Senderov YourMechanic
    Claire Fraeyman student   Taunya Shastal Delphi
    Elizabeth Fritts student   Sunny Shin KOTRA
    Adair Gutierrez Continental Automotive Systems   Lori Simoes student
    Beatriz Hickson Meritor Inc.   Olivia Snyder student
    Sue Jarvis-Zobel Aristocat Chauffeured Transportation   Krista Sohm Meritor Inc.
    Brianna Jodzis student   Stephanie Speck Roechling Automotive
    Ashley Kamlay Leggett & Platt Automotive Group   Stephanie Stachura Deloitte
    Kristin Kolodge JD Power   Laurie Stefanka Linamar Corporation
    Ann Kong Fiat Chrysler Automobiles   Sarah Thomas Meritor Inc.
    Alexandra Larson student   Shelley Vallier SFC Koenig
    Jennifer Libin Automotive Profit Builders   Lorri Warpup GGB Bearing Technology
    Jessica Liepe Faurecia Interior Systems   Heidi Wojciechowski ZF Group




    Back to top

    AWAF Sponsors


    Gold Sponsors
       Faurecia       Magna   

    Atlas Copco                Meritor              

    Michigan Economic Development  Corporation

                  Autobeat Group                    

    Silver Sponsors
    Friendly Ford Lincoln
    Leggett & Platt Automotive Group
    Plante Moran
    Yazaki North America, Inc.

    Bronze Sponsor
    The Henry Ford


    Special Scholarship Sponsor
    Elder Automotive Group

    Become a sponsor go here


    Back to top

    Housekeeping Items & Friendly Reminders

    If your membership is up for renewal, pleasec visit our website, log-in and renew today! We guarantee you will not want to miss any of these upcoming events!

    • Please don’t forget to “Join”, “Like” and “Share” on AWAF’s social media pages

    • Please remember to keep your member profile up to date on the AWAF website - adding your profile picture and ensuring your company name is up to date! 

    • Please visit our website to keep an eye on the news section for more opportunities and events.

    We’d like to thank all of our Committee Members who ensure our programs are successful.
    If you‘d like to join a committee, please email us at If you have
    suggestions for the newsletter, please reach out to your AWAF Board Marketing Co-Chairs
    Michelle Blakeley or Patricia Price

    Mission Statement: The mission of the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation is to advanceand empower women in the automotive industry.
    Vision Statement: The vision of the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation is to help create and sustain a diverse industry optimized by empowered women.

    Back to top