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Contact: Mark Bilek

Senior Director of Communications and Technology
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Office: (630) 424-6082
Cell: (847) 652-0632
Email: [email protected]

Contact: Jennifer Morand
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Office: (630) 424-6084
Cell: (630) 391-1986
Email: [email protected]



CHICAGO (Feb. 10, 2020) – Chicago Auto Show organizers, in partnership with A Girls Guide to Cars and Women in Automotive, held the fourth annual What Drives Her Luncheon and networking event during the show's Media Preview on Friday, Feb. 7 at McCormick Place. Influential women were invited to come together for a robust lineup of presentations and panel discussions surrounding the pertinent impact that females have on the automotive industry. This year's theme focused on how women are shifting the public conversation, how they are building careers in automotive and how they are impacting sales and economic trends.

"As the largest auto show in North America, this show sets the stage for industry trends; not just for Chicago, but for the nation," said Chicago Automobile Trade Association [producer of the Chicago Auto Show] Board Member Kelly Webb Roberts. "What Drives Her has become a cornerstone event of the Chicago Auto Show's Media Preview and brings to light the important role that women play to drive this industry forward."

The 2020 What Drives Her event featured a robust lineup of female speakers who discussed the integral role women play within the auto industry as contributors, consumers and drivers of purchasing decisions.

Roz Varon of ABC 7 Chicago, emceed the luncheon. Her opening remark set the tone for the event: "Women buy or influence the purchase of 85 percent of all cars; that's more than $500 billion a year in car sales. Reaching this consumer presents one of the biggest challenges in automotive: marketing to a consumer who isn't in tune with your product." 

When asked to comment on how to break the barrier to reach women who aren't interested in a career in automotive, Amy Marentic, director of regional product line management, Ford Icons, replied, "I'd say give it a shot. It's an industry that's evolving, it's going through a huge shift, and who knows where we're going to end up in the next 10 to 15 years. I can tell you it's going to look very different and I'm excited to be a part of it. I hope all of you will be excited to help make a change, and make a change for the better."

Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer for Hyundai, Keitha Blackburn, director, experiential marketing, Porsche North America, and Jessica Egerton, director of brand development, Cooper Tire, all sat on the panel discussing the need for more women in the automotive industry to be represented.

"We're making progress," commented Egerton. "Since I joined [the industry] five years ago, there's a couple of things I'm extraordinarily proud that we've done: we've started diversity employee resource groups, we have women's networking, we just scored 100 on the corporate equality index - which was a huge accomplishment - and we were recognized for having thirty percent of women on our board of directors. We have strides that we still need to make but I'm really proud of the progress that we have been making and the fact that we're even here talking about this today is a step in the right direction for us."
Patti Chapman, senior analyst, Kelley Blue Book, talked automotive trends, what we will see in the future - in terms of women's opportunities - and reimagining the automotive consumer experience.

A common theme among the women speaking at the event is that they enjoy the automotive industry, they see the potential for women's growth in the industry and they understand how far it's come. Additional key factors of success shared were diversity in the workplace, taking advantage of opportunities presented and being a leader.

Kathy Gilbert, director of customer success, minority dealer and women in retail, CDK Global, kicked off the second portion of the panel discussion. She spoke on the importance of customer experience and the types of roles in the industry, stating, "We know that these [roles for women] are good for business. Good for business means if I have a great experience, I'm going to tell everybody I know, buy more from you, and talk about the experience. The better we are at doing that, the better we are in terms of growing this role for women."

Panel discussions continued with Gilbert, in addition to Michelle Collins, director of marketing and communications, BorgWarner, and Lisa Farrar, head of product and B2B Marketing, Insights on being successful in business continued with a discussion of the importance of finding mentorships, getting out of your comfort zone, investing in yourself, being positive and willing to learn.

More than 200 members of the media, industry and social media influencers attended the fourth annual What Drives Her Luncheon. Event sponsors included CDK Global, Cooper Tire, Hyundai, Kelley Blue Book and Turtle Wax.

Manufacturers, exhibitors and show organizers will build on the momentum of the What Drives Her event during its annual Women's Day to be held Tuesday, Feb. 11. Special programming including networking opportunities and panel discussions will take place throughout the day.

For more information on the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, visit For high resolution photos and b-roll, visit


About the Chicago Auto Show
The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America, spanning more than 1 million square feet of production, concept and exotic vehicle exhibit space. In addition to hosting multiple world and North American vehicle debuts, the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity raises more than $2.5 million annually for 18 vital Chicago organizations in a single night. The 2020 public show is Feb. 8-17. For more information, visit or

About the Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Founded in 1904, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association is one of the nation’s largest metropolitan dealer organizations. It is comprised of more than 420 franchised new-car dealers and an additional 150 allied members. The group’s dealer members employ about 19,000 people in the metropolitan area. The association has produced the world-famous Chicago Auto Show since 1935. For more information please visit

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