When thinking of the auto industry, women – African American women – very rarely come to mind.
The auto industry, although changing, still has work to be done to increase not only women’s presence but the presence of African American women. Whether it is in auto finance, NASCAR, or consumer car sales, these are the ladies creating space for African American women in the auto industry.
African American Women in NASCAR Racing
NASCAR is notoriously a male-dominated space. However, with women like Melissa Harville-Lebron in the industry that is changing. She is not just the mother of two race drivers, Eric and Enico, she is also the first African American woman to be the sole owner of a NASCAR-licensed team: E2 Northeast Motorsports. E2 Northeast Motorsports, which is under the umbrella of W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc. became the first multicultural team to race competitively in NASCAR, with four black and Latino drivers — two in the camping world truck series and two in NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series.
Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel
Speaking of black women in NASCAR, there is another African American woman making noise: Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel. She is not only a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist but is also the first African American woman to co-own a NASCAR team, Rev Racing with her husband Max Siegel. Rev Racing has trained drivers and pit crew members to prepare them for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series since 2010. She is also part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program. Dr. Satterfield-Siegel has many accolades under her belt which include being the first African American woman to
African American Women in Auto: Manufacturing and Consumer Car Sales
In 2017, Linda Cash became one of the most influential black women in the auto industry when she was promoted to VP Vice President of Quality and New Model Launch at Ford Motor Company. In her role, she is responsible for “driving quality processes throughout the design and production of Ford vehicles, and for new model launches globally, ensuring alignment throughout the business operations.”
Lisa Lunsford is the CEO, co-founder and majority owner, Vice president of sales and marketing, Global Strategic Supply Solutions (GS3), Deshler Group. She has over 30 year’s experience in the automotive industry, with her career first beginning at Ford Motor Company in manufacturing and then automotive design. Her most notable projects with Ford include working on the 1988 Mustang and the 1996 Ford F-150 truck. Then in 2010, she co-founded GS3 Global a company that specializes in supply-chain collaboration. The company has achieved several accolades including GS3 Global won the 2014 Supplier of the Year Award from the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) and was awarded the 2015 Regional Supplier of the Year Award from the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).
Jenell Ross and Juanita Baranco
Jenell Ross is the daughter Bob Ross – the first black Mercedes-Benz dealer. She is a second-generation Mercedes-Benz dealer, taking over her father’s Ohio-based Bob Ross Auto Group. She is one of only two (2) African American women who have been able to move beyond just owning one of the world’s most prestigious luxury cars to actually owning a Mercedes-Benz new-vehicle franchise. The second woman is Juanita Baranco, who is one of the co-owners of Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead. Together, the two make up a team of powerful women entrepreneurs who have managed to infiltrate the luxury German auto industry, which consists of at least 400 new-vehicle Mercedes-Benz franchises.
This Black History Month, we celebrate these women paving the way for future African American women with an interest in having a career in the automotive industry. As you can see, we still have a long way to go in this male-dominated industry. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there!