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Women in Automotive Holds Inaugural Meeting

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More than 300 professionals from across the country attended the inaugural Women in Automotive Conference, an event focused on assisting the automotive community in recruiting, retaining and developing female employees and leaders.

According to National Automobile Dealers Association statistics, women make up less than one-fifth of employees at auto dealerships.

The conference was held in August in downtown Orlando, and included speakers, breakout sessions, workshops and booth displays.

"There is a place for women in automotive," says Women in Automotive founder Christy Roman. “Having the opportunity to listen to – and learn from – some of the most influential people in our industry has given us an increased knowledge base and a renewed sense of confidence and purpose as we look forward.”

Lisa Copeland, an expert in the field of automotive marketing and management for more than 25 years, spoke on her career as a pioneer in the automotive business and why the conference was critical. “We made history. We showed the automotive industry it's time for women to take a seat at the table!” Copeland is managing partner of Fiat of Austin, the top Fiat retailer in North America.

Tammy Darvish, known for her 30-year management career at DARCARS Automotive Group in Silver Spring, Md., discussed how the role of women in automotive has changed over time. Darvish called on all women to “become engaged and get involved in being a part of something rather than subject to it.” Darvish currently is executive vice president of Pentagon Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, Va.

The crowd heard from more than 50 speakers, including professional race car driver and entrepreneur Shea Holbrook and Celeste D. Briggs, director of women’s retail network for General Motors..

Briggs says, “I look forward to participating in future conferences and getting the best-kept secret into the mainstream – there is a place for women in automotive!”

A host of top companies in the automobile industry aligned as sponsors for this first-ever conference. They included, Hendrick Automotive Group, AutoNation, Asbury Automotive Group Inc., BASF Corp., Florida Automobile Dealers Association, TrueCar Inc., Autobytel Inc. and Ally Auto, a part of Ally Financial Inc.

The Women in Automotive Conference was founded by board members Roman, President of NOW Digital; Joni Stuker, President of Owner Connect; Jody DeVere, CEO of; Kathy Gilbert, Director of Sales & Business Development of CDK Global; and Subi Ghosh, Executive Vice President of Dealer Authority, in partnership with JKR Automotive Advertising out of Orlando. Its mission is to assist the automotive community on recruiting, retaining, and developing female employees and leaders.

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