10th Annual SAWF Conference Speakers Announced.

Nashville, TN May 29, 2019 – Southern Automotive Women’s Forum is pleased to announce its lineup of speakers for the 10th Annual SAWF Conference, Driving Forward Together, which will take place at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs in Franklin, TN from July 25 to July 26th. SAWF’s Annual Conference brings together OEM’s, suppliers and service providers for an evening and full day of education and networking opportunities.

The conference opens Thursday evening with the President’s reception sponsored by Frost Todd Brown LLC.  Speakers on Thursday during the president’s reception includes:

Linda Miller, former Director of Manufacturing for Ford Motor Company. This automotive pioneer achieved a number of Ford Firsts culminating her career in being the first female Director of Manufacturing.

Mila Grigg, CEO of Moda Image Brand Consulting will give insight on how to and why you should build a personal brand.

Friday’s conference continues with the following speakers:

Opening the morning session is Doneen McDowell, Manufacturing Executive Director, GMNA Engine and GMCH Sites, General Motors. She will speak about making manufacturing a competitive advantage.

Our panel discussion will be about navigating the OEM and Supplier relationship. Moderator is Janette Hostettler, Vice President of Mazda Toyota with a panel of women-owned automotive suppliers including Ginger Bailey, Founder and CEO of Racemark International, Joan Benore, Vice President Administration of Benore Logistics, Linda Macht, president of Tottser-Iroquois Industries and Rosa Santana, Chief Executive Officer of Santana Group.

Our lunch keynote speaker will be Dr. Laura Lile of Lile Wellness Partners. She will address ways to healthily optimize your performance in the workplace.

The conference ends with the annual awarding of scholarships to women enrolled or who plan to enroll in a STEM related field such as science, technology, engineering or math and have an interest in the automotive/mobility industry.

For complete agenda, details on hotel and to register visit http://www.southernautomotivewomen.org/10th-annual-sawf-conference/

The Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the personal and professional advancement of women in the automotive industry.  SAWF achieves this mission by collaborating with industry partners to create educational, mentorship, and networking opportunities for its members.  Our members serve as strong role models for one another and for young women of all ages who are interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with the hope that they will apply these skills to the automotive industry of the future.  Since its inception in 2010, SAWF has awarded over $285,000 in scholarship funds to young women beginning their careers in STEM and to women seeking to enhance their opportunities.

Scholarship Deadline June 1, 2019 for 2019/2020 School Year

The SAWF scholarship program provides financial assistance to women enrolled or who plan to enroll in a STEM related field such as science, technology, engineering or math and have an interest in the automotive/mobility industry. Scholarships will be awarded in increments ranging from $1,250 to $5,000.

Qualifications for scholarship applications are for women to be enrolled or enrolling in a STEM field at an accredited two-year technical program, four-year  undergraduate program or graduate program that can be used for a career in the automotive and mobility industry. Other qualifications can be for the scholarship can be found here.

2019/2020 Scholarship Program deadline to apply is June 1, 2019. Scholarships are awarded at our Annual Conference on July 25-26, 2019 in Franklin, Tennessee.

For more information and to apply go here.

Since the introduction of the Scholarship Program in August 2011, SAWF has provided over $285,000 in scholarship awards. We were honored to award $43,500 in scholarships in August 2018 at our last annual conference in Huntsville, Alabama. SAWF raises funds for scholarship through industry fundraising, society soirees and professional development events.

All Girls Auto Know® Outreach Program Connects Middle School Girls with Automotive and STEM Careers

13th South Carolina event spotlights career opportunities for young women

BMW Manufacturing Co., the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum, and the South Carolina Automotive Council, hosted the 13th South Carolina All Girls Auto Know® event at BMW Manufacturing Co in Greenville, SC.

Founded in 2011, All Girls Auto Know® aims to increase the number of women pursuing STEM degrees/careers in the Southern Region.  By ensuring young women are aware of the many opportunities which exist and emphasizing their ability to do whatever they put their minds to, All Girls Auto Know® seeks to increase the number of women in the automotive industry.  “This program helps young women realize their full potential, and for some students this is their first exposure to automotive manufacturing,” said Cherie McCain, co-founder of the All Girls Auto Know® initiative, Southern Automotive Women’s Forum.

The event included a tour of BMW Manufacturing Co. and remarks by company executives. “We are pleased to support and encourage careers in automotive manufacturing and STEM fields, said Knudt Flor, President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co. “All Girls Auto to Know® is key program that helps SAWF fulfill one of is components of its mission to ensure that girls are aware of the many opportunities for a fulfilling career in the automotive industry,” said Jeneen Horton, president of Southern Automotive Women’s Forum.

 In addition to the tour, student attendees participated in a hands-on activity and expo fair which included representatives from automotive OEMs and suppliers, STEM educators, and other STEM organizations.  Students also engaged in an interactive panel discussion focused on the automotive industry, STEM opportunities, and the career paths of panelists. The discussion was captured by an interactive graphic recording.  Panelists included:

  • Suzanne Dickerson, Director of Logistics Initiatives, South Carolina Council on Competitiveness; All Girls Auto Know® co-founder
  • Ericka Davis-Hackl, Director of Materials, Yanfeng Automotive Interior Systems
  • Cherie McCain, Section Manager – Quality Management, BMW Manufacturing Co.; All Girls Auto Know® co-founder

Today marked the 13th All Girls Auto Know® event held in South Carolina.  The initiative has also grown to include events in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

“Since 2011, the original vision of Suzanne Dickerson and Cherie McCain has grown to impact young women throughout the Southeast and impacted thousands of students right here in South Carolina, said Amy Tinsley, Executive Director of the South Carolina Automotive Council.  “As our state’s automotive industry continues to grow, this program helps to ensure that young women are aware of the career options available to them.”

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BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC

BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC is a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany and is the global producer of the BMW X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupe.  In addition to the South Carolina manufacturing facility, BMW Group North American subsidiaries include sales, marketing and financial services operations in the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America; and a design firm and technology office in California. For more information on BMW Manufacturing, visit www.bmwusfactory.com.

Southern Automotive Women’s Forum

The Southern Automotive Women’s Forum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the personal and professional advancement of women in the automotive industry. SAWF achieves this mission by collaborating with industry partners to create educational, mentorship, and networking opportunities for its members. Our members serve as strong role models for one another and for young women of all ages who are interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with the hope that they will apply these skills to the automotive industry of the future. Since its inception in 2010, SAWF has also awarded over $200,000 in scholarship funds to young women beginning their careers in STEM and to women seeking to enhance their opportunities.

South Carolina Automotive Council

The South Carolina Automotive Council (SCAC) is a Council of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA)

connecting South Carolina’s automotive industry. Driven by SCMA’s automotive members – from Original Equipment

Makers to all levels of the supply chain – the SCAC engages on industry relevant topics including trade,

government policy, supply chain, quality, workforce and economic development. Our established annual events

provide a forum for insightful discussion on trends and issues impacting the industry on a local and global basis.

In addition to facilitating the state’s network of automotive companies, the SCAC also promotes the continued

growth and strengthening of the automotive industry by partnering with state and local organizations in workforce

and economic development efforts.

SAWF Launches New Lunch & Learn Webinar

The Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF) will host its first Lunch and Learn webinar on February 22, 2019 from 12 pm to 1 pm CST. This first webinar is on building your confidence.  This new program is free to SAWF members and costs $25.00 for nonmembers. But you must register here.

Confidence matters more than competence in the rise to the top.  Confidence is action. With confidence you will have the courage to try things out and have a chance to learn from mistakes and eventually succeed instead of not trying at all.  This webinar will give practical insight on how to build your confidence.

Leslie Russ, consultant at Foundations Human Resources Consulting is the presenter. Russ’ experience as a business leader, management consultant and HR professional translates into a unique talent for facilitating strategy, developing leaders, and managing change.

She spent the first 20 years of her career helping improve processes, skills, and organizational effectiveness at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), RWD Technologies, and Lexmark International. As a consultant, she has crafted solutions to the most difficult organizational issues for global technology, healthcare, workforce solutions and manufacturing organizations.

SAWF Hosts All Girls Auto To Know™ for the first time in Kentucky

The Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF) welcomed over 150 middle school girls from Jefferson County, Kentucky and Clark County, Indiana to its All Girls Auto Know™ program on November 13, 2018 at the Kentucky Science Center, Louisville KY. The girls participated in the ALL GIRLS presentation, worked on a hands-on STEM activity and had an opportunity to speak to representatives from automotive manufacturers, automotive suppliers and college training programs. The keynote speaker was Dr. Sue Ellspermann who served as the 50th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana and currently is President of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.

All Girls Auto Know™ is a one-day event where SAWF invites middle school girls, along with educator chaperones, to explore the many opportunities that are available to each of them through STEM education and in the automotive industry. Nearly 2,000 girls from South Carolina and Alabama have participated in this program since its inception in 2011.

“We are delighted that we were able to bring this program to Kentucky,” said Tami Hatfield, Labor Relations Supervisor for Ford Motor Company at the Louisville Assembly Plant. “There are many opportunities for careers in automotive and it is important that we introduce girls to them.”

Ford Motor Company was the principal sponsor of the All Girls Auto Know™ event in Kentucky with additional support by the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative, Ivy Tech Community College and Frost Brown Todd LLC.

AWESOME Legendary Leadership (ALL) Award

2018 ALL Award Honorees

AWESOME has selected two outstanding trail-blazers and role models to receive the 2018 AWESOME Legendary Leadership Award. They are Susan Seilheimer Brennan, Chief Operations Officer, Bloom Energy Corporation, and Ilya R. Espino de Marotta, Executive Vice President for Engineering and Programs Management, Panama Canal Authority. Their achievements in their chosen fields would be remarkable for any leader – that much more so because they are women in traditionally male fields.

Susan Brennan has 25 years of experience in global manufacturing and operations for the automotive and energy industries. In strategic leadership roles for Nissan Motor and Ford Motor – both Fortune 100 companies — she spearheaded large-scale initiatives and drove the companies’ transformations with systemic process and corporate culture change. At Nissan, she was the highest ranking woman in operations – and one of the few women who have held an executive position at a leading Japanese corporation. She ran the largest automotive manufacturing plant in the world and led the introduction of five new car models for Nissan, including the first Infiniti built outside of Japan and the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

At Ford, Susan ran the global business office for the assembly, power train and stamping plants on six continents. She was a key member of the global team that reorganized Ford under its “Way Forward” program. In addition to developing and implementing a strategic plan for the restructuring of labor and manufacturing capacity for Ford, she led the charge to address diversity imbalance among Ford’s management, from production supervisors to directors. She also co-chaired the Women in Manufacturing Employee Resource Group.

As COO of Bloom Energy, Susan is responsible for global supply chain and purchasing, as well as all new product launch strategy and sales execution, operations, capacity management, labor management, EHS strategy and compliance and government affairs.

Throughout her career, Susan has created and supported organizations that encourage young women to pursue careers in math and science. Among these endeavors are serving as a national advisory board member for the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) at Stanford University and President and founder of the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum. She is past vice president of the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation in Detroit, Michigan and served as an advisory board member for the University Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at Middle Tennessee State University. Twice, she has been named to “Top 100 Women in Automotive” by Automotive News. She is a Distinguished Alumni of University of Nebraska at Omaha, and in 2016, she was honored as a Woman of Influence, Silicon Valley. Susan serves on the board of Senior PLC, a FTSE listed company.




Reprinted with permission from the Southern Automotive Alliance Magazine: March 2018

‘All Girls Auto Know’ middle school outreach program expands from South Carolina to other Southern states.

Cherie McCain had some nift y advantages as she made her way through jobs in traditionally male-dominated ndustries. It’s not every girl who can boast of rebuilding a 1969 Camaro with her dad during her high school years.

But McCain knows many girls aren’t getting the encouragement and experiences that could propel them into science and technology jobs. That’s why she and other members of the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum created All Girls Auto Know, a program that has introduced hundreds of girls to the idea of auto industry careers.

Members of the nonprofit SAWF offer scholarships, serve as role models and help organize fun, challenging All Girls events to tantalize students with new possibilities.

And significantly, they’re reaching girls in middle school.
“We found out that if you focus on high school, it’s almost too late,” said McCain, who manages problem resolution at the BMW plant in upstate South Carolina.

“If you can get them in sixth or seventh grade, you can let them know they have options, that this is something hey can do,” she said.

All Girls Auto Know first worked with Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) to host 40 middle school girls in 2011. Among other things, girls did a creative project involving building a balloon-powered car.

“It was a huge success,” McCain said. The next event drew 90 students. The following event involved 150. Now, the program draws about 300 girls to two events a year in S.C., and in 2017, it expanded to Alabama with an All Girls event in Birmingham.

“More boys think that this is just for boys,” one eighth-grade girl said at the Birmingham event, which was co-hosted by a group called Girls Inc. “But I’ve thought about doing this a lot because I love cars, and just like the idea of it.”

Claire Hendrix, a 15-year-old sophomore at Wade Hampton High in Greenville, has positive memories of an All Girls event she attended at BMW when she was in eighth grade. She said she’d recommend it as especially worthwhile for girls interested in automotive industry jobs.

“I am more interested in the fields of psychology and law, but the experience was still worthwhile,” she said. “It was informative and empowering to hear from many women in a male-dominated industry.”

Urgency, opportunity in STEM

How can the U.S. pull more students into fields requiring tech skills? It’s an urgent question aimed at filling jobs in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Studies suggest women often are thwarted from these careers by factors including cultural stereotypes, gender bias, and inhospitable academic and workplace environments.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education projects steady increases in STEM job openings. It’s one priority on which former President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump agree: Obama pushed promotion of STEM education, and Trump called last fall for a $200 million increase in STEM-related education funding.

Cherie McCain, BMW, Southern Automotive Women's Forum
Female students are seen as an untapped resource in STEM fields, because so few choose STEM careers. For example, according to the National Science Foundation, 84 percent of people in science and engineering jobs are white or Asian men. And the U.S. ranks third in STEM graduates, far behind China and India.

Reaching middle school girls is smart, because that’s often when they start to lose interest in math and science, said Serita Acker, who heads Clemson’s WISE program (for Women in Science and Engineering).

“A lot of times girls find that when they’re really interested in math, they’re labeled as nerds, and depending on the girl, that can really bother them,” Acker  said. Then, she said, they might not go on to take courses in high school that could put them on a path to tech careers.

Helping Girls Find Their Niche

“Math was always my best subject,” reflected McCain, whose educational achievements include bachelor’s degrees in computers and mathematics, a minor in physics and an International MBA. Over the years, she said, she hasn’t been bothered by workplace situations in which she’s the only woman in the room – but has been concerned that other women were missing out.

McCain likes the idea of approaching industry issues with more diverse employee teams.

“Women solve problems differently than men,” she said. “That’s not to say either is better or worse, but the logic is a little different. The more diverse thinking processes you have, the better the opportunities to exhaust all the options.”

McCain is proud that in South Carolina, All Girls Auto Know events have welcomed almost 2,000 girls since 2011. Having ventured to Alabama in 2017, SAWF plans to expand to Georgia and Tennessee this year.

Besides hands-on projects that might appeal to future engineers, girls also get an up-close look at research and assembly work that goes into auto manufacturing. McCain recalled one girl whose guidance counselor steered her into an All Girls event.

“Nothing was clicking with her,”McCain said. “She was really struggling at school. But after attending our event, she decided that she wanted to get into [the automotive field]. She just sort of found her niche.”

McCain believes auto manufacturing can be an especially good fit for girls.

“Interestingly, in 75 or 80 percent of car purchases, the decision is made by or influenced by a woman,” she said. “It’s something that impacts their lives. And it’s also something the industry needs to get women’s input on, early in the process.”

Acker sees signs of progress. When she started at Clemson 28 years ago, women comprised only about 17 percent of students in its freshman-level general engineering program, she said. Now, that number is up to about 30 percent.

Suzanne Dickerson, S.C. Council on Competitiveness, Southern Automotive Women's Forum
Suzanne Dickerson, S.C. Council on Competitiveness, Southern Automotive Women’s Forum[/caption]Suzanne Dickerson, vice president of SAWF, served 20 years in the auto industry and now is with the S.C. Council on Competitiveness. She believes initiatives like All Girls Auto Know can support industry efforts to build a qualified workforce – and support investments like the $2 billion South Carolina is pouring into infrastructure improvements.

Dickerson sees girls who are increasingly sophisticated about tech issues – cybersecurity, for example – and thinks the auto industry is becoming more welcoming.

“There’s been a fear of the unknown, perhaps, as they try to picture themselves in a manufacturing environment … but I do feel that it is easier now for women to take on leadership roles.” 


Women in Manufacturing: Closing the Gap

The manufacturing industry is recruiting and advancing women to close the talent gap.

One such program — All Girls Auto KnowTM— takes 200 young women from middle schools and 100 educators and parents from around Upstate South Carolina and introduces them to the many opportunities that exist for women in STEM-related fields. Put on by the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum — in partnership with Clemson University and major automotive companies such as BMW, Michelin, Dräxlmaier, and Bosch — the day-long All Girls Auto KnowTM program includes an introduction into STEM and automotive-related career opportunities, tours of automotive manufacturing and training facilities, hands-on engineering challenges, and a showcase of local automotive companies. Current plans are to expand the program to other regions of South Carolina, in addition to Birmingham, Alabama, and Georgia. 

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