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Newsletter - Summer 2020 Print

Women with Drive

Greetings AWAF Members,

I hope this letter finds you well.  Given the pandemic, AWAF has pivoted to holding virtual events.  We have had several virtual professional development events, from “Turning Career Tragedy into Career Triumph” presented by AWAF EAC member Linda Taliaferro to “Power Presenting for the Virtual Presenter” by Christina McKenna of Bluestone Executive Communications.  AWAF also collaborated with Inforum, Women in Manufacturing, Denso, and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to host a virtual women’s meet-up on Aug.3, featuring Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Denise Gray of LG Chem.  In 2019, the women’s meet-up was held in Traverse City, right before the start of the CAR Management Briefing Seminar, but we were delighted that we were able to transform it into a virtual event and reach even more women.

Coming up on August 13, we have a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Workshop presented by the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement, a non-profit organization dedicated to doubling the number of diverse leaders in the automotive industry by 2030. Join us to gain an understanding of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) Fundamentals required to value differences and be more inclusive in order to enhance personal and organizational contribution.

We had hoped to hold our 25th annual “Swinging FORE Scholarships” golf outing on Friday, August 21 at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, but instead will be moving it to next year.  But it will still be our 25th anniversary event and we will celebrate in grand style!  

The AWAF Nominating Committee is looking for members who are interested in serving on the Board or being a member of a committee.  Our committees include Programs, Professional Development, Mentoring, and Coaching, among several others.  Whatever your interest or talent, there is an AWAF committee that is just right for you and can use your insights and passion!   

We are always looking for new ideas to fuel women’s progress in the automotive and mobility industries, so please let us know what’s on your mind.  Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming AWAF event, virtually if not in person!


Sue Rokosz
President, AWAF


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Save The Date For These Upcoming Events

Thursday, August 13, 2020 - Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Workshop  - Cheryl Thompson CEO and Founder of Center for Automotive Diversity (CADIA) and Margaret Baxter executive director at CADIA will help attendees gain an understanding of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) Fundamentals required to value differences and be more inclusive in order to enhance personal and organizational contribution. Register at

 August 18-20, 2020, THE ENGINE OF AUTO TECH INNOVATION, 100 percent virtual, AWAF is excited to be part of this event put on by TU-Automotive. 

SAVE THE DATE, Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 5:30 pm, Annual Virtual Holiday Party. Be inspired by Lisa Drake, Ford Motor Company, COO of Ford North America and Vice President, Global Purchasing and help us celebrate our 2nd annual AWAF awards. Registration will open in the fall.

Programs and Professional Development committees are finalizing additional programming for the fall. Stay tuned.

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Past Event Highlights

These past months, AWAF increased its programming to members and moved it all virtually to help you stay connected and navigate the new environment. 

On May 14, 2020, Priscilla Archangel of Archangel & Associates LLC, presented "Clarity in the Midst of a Crisis: How to Find Your New Normal." Listen to her complete presentation on YouTube:

On June 4, 2020, leadership coaches Diane Morrison and Marian Morlock presented "Having Difficult Conversations with an Open Hear and Open Mind." Listen to their complete presentation on YouTube:

On June 25, 2020, our own past president Linda Taliaferro a career expert and founder of The TEE – The Extra Effort presented on "Turning Career Trauma into Career Triumph."  Read more about the wisdom presented by Linda along with her 6 ways to turn career trauma into career triumph. Or listen to her complete presentation on YouTube.  Please feel free to get in touch with Linda at [email protected] or

On July 23, 2020, Christina McKenna – Founder & President, Bluestone Executive Communications presented on “Power Presenting for the Virtual Presenter” Christina brought her knowledge, wisdom and wit to our members, emphasizing that communication is more important now than ever. Read more about her “Seven Secrets to a Commanding Virtual Presence.”

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Scholarship Recipients

The pandemic has not stopped us from still presenting scholarships. The following scholarships have been awarded since the last newsletter:

Danielle Didia

Kathryn Cesie

Twanda Dixon

Jacqueline "Jacqui" van Zyl

For bios click on their name or visit our past scholarship recipient page for all bios and all of our scholarship recipients. Danielle and Kathryn were awarded their scholarships at MBS Virtual Women's Meet-up event on August 3rd and theirs scholarships were sponsored by Warner Norcross + Judd LLP and Magna International. Twanda's scholarship was presented in honor of the Automotive Heritage Foundation at their Automotive Heritage Awards on July 26th. Jacqui's was awarded in May. 

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STEM Presence

AWAF to Roll Out Virtual STEM Activities

With it almost impossible to hold in-person STEM events at middle schools or high schools this year, we got creative and came up with a few ideas that will allow AWAF to continue to advance and empower women in STEM.  

Soon, we will be rolling out the AWAF STEM KIT CHALLENGE.  The challenge will invite high school and college students to submit ideas for a STEM KIT that will be rolled out to middle school young women to engage them in STEM initiatives later this fall.   The entire challenge will be held virtually.

Learn more!.

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Membership Corner

The 2020 AWAF Mentorship Program has gotten off to a great start!  We've increased the number of mentorship relationships from 7 last year to 12 this year.  Our wonderful AWAF mentors are working hard to provide support, advice, and guidance that will help our mentees (past AWAF scholarship recipients) meet their professional and personal development goals.  We're looking forward to soon providing the book Make the Most of Mentoring to each of the mentors and mentees. Thank you to our AWAF mentors for your selfless commitment to helping to enhance the lives of these outstanding young women.  

AWAF member and past scholarship recipient Abby Hemp has registered to participate in the $2000 2020 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge. The premise of the race is to race any production passenger vehicle, with any modifications so long as everything is under $2,000. She is currently raising money to be able to participate and has a team in place. Read for more details and how you can support this college student.

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Industry News

AWAF is accepting nominations for the Automotive Women's Alliance Foundation Awards.  This recognition is designed to celebrate and honor the achievements of the women and change champions who live the AWAF mission of advancing and empowering women in the automotive industry! All awards will be presented at the Holiday Event. Awardee attendance is required for all awards. Application and award details.

AWAF Sponsor Spotlight:
Leggett & Platt Automotive has been a proud sponsor of AWAF for nearly ten years! Founded in 1883, Leggett & Platt is a diversified and leading global automotive supplier dedicated to providing innovative and mobility solutions to achieve your ideal seat comfort with our product portfolio of lumbars, suspension mats, actuators, motors, and cables used throughout vehicles. As an organization, we understand the importance of investing in our industry, communities, and people’s future. Our partnership with AWAF allows us to do this and the women of our organization gain so much by being a part of this amazing network of strong and powerful female leaders. LPA is proud to continue AWAF’s mission within our own team by increasing our female leadership presence and providing support to the women throughout our organization. Cheers to another ten years working with AWAF and supporting the women of automotive!

The Automotive Heritage Awards (AHA) went virtual this year on July 26th at 2 PM EDST. These awards normally are given out at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s but like so many events this year it cannot happen.

These awards honor the best in automotive history, culture, and aesthetics. Awards given include AHA Lifetime Achievement Award, Future Collectible Vehicle of the Year, AHA Concept Vehicle of the Year and the AHA Automotive Journalism Competition awards. AWAF kicked-off the awards presentation with a scholarship in honor of Automotive Heritage Foundation to Twanda Dixon. 

To see the full awards visit AHA's YouTube Channel.


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Support AWAF through Amazon Smile

With more shopping happening online, please remember that AWAF is a listed charitable organization through AmazonSmile. By designating Automotive Women's Alliance Foundation as your favorite charity, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to AWAF. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know - same products, same prices, same service. 

Click here to designate the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation as the organization of your choice to support and make sure when you shop through Amazon you are shopping on the AmazonSmile website.

“AmazonSmile and the AmazonSmile logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates."


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