Business Panel: Exploring Diversity in the Aftermarket Industry
Recorded On: 11/02/2022
This panel will highlight the achievements and contributions of people of color in the automotive aftermarket industry. For professionals, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices make understanding each other better as individuals a priority within a work environment by ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table. Panelists will engage in a rich discussion on DEI-associated challenges and opportunities and best practices on how to thrive and survive to accelerate the advancements of people of color in the automotive aftermarket industry.
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General Manager of Quality Systems and Planning
Toyota Motor North America Inc
Alan Williams is currently General Manager of Quality Systems and Planning at Toyota Motor, North America, Inc. His team is responsible for quality applications across the enterprise, the NA Quality budget, strategic planning, and the Quality Management System for North America. Alan has spent most of his career in Research & Development where he earned multiple awards and accolades, including five US patents, Presidents Award for Chronic Issue resolution, Design Review Based on Failure Modes B-Rank Expert certification (1 of 36 in North America), and Toyota Volunteer of the Year. He served as the first Chair of the African-American Collaborative North American Advisory Council. Alan is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds an MBA/Technology Management. He is a 2019 recipient of the “Hidden Figures of Dallas STEM Influencer” award from the National Society of Black Engineers. Alan is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and is currently active in the Dallas Alumni chapter. He has been married to his wife, Tammie, for 25 years. They are proud parents of Joseph, Senior at Texas Southern University, and Jacob, Junior at Prairie View A&M University.
AM Hot Rod Glass
Carmen Belanger-Martin started in 2003 in the Motion Picture & Marine Industry and she was the first to manufacture the Acrylic Skater Powerboats 4 PC 3/4" Windshield Assembly with perfect Optics & Clairity. This had never been done before in the Marine industry and Carmen then designed the AM 3PC Windshield Kit that was integrated into multiple OEM production boats like Eliminator Boats (the Speedster Series) Nordic Boats, Outerlimits Powerboats, Spectre, etc. Carmen Belanger-Martin built the Aero-Marine brand to be the "Standard" for Optics, Clarity & Integrated Fit in the Marine Industry. In 2005, Carmen worked with Ryan Fredlinghaus of West Coast Customs on the last season of "Pimp My Ride" and when Ryan Fredlinghaus launched the Velocity Brand/Network with his hit Show "Street Customs" he brought Aero-Marine & AM Hot Rod Glass along for the ride. Carmen built 1" thick safes for Virgin Gaming (Sir Richard Branson), Rusty Wallace Nomad Roof Panel, Royal Rover Roof Panel, Vans Van 16' All Acrylic Roof panel and many more for 3 seasons of the show...Carmen has worked with many motion picture studios like Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony Pictures, SKG, Disney, Lucas Films & many special effects companies on film brands like Captain America, Star Wars & she is known for building the "Largest Optically Clear Custom Parts" in the Motion Picture Industry & Saving movie productions by finding solutions fast! During this time, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was the first OEM to bring Carmen and AM/AMHRG to Auburn Hills Campus and made her product debut in the infamous "Dome". Carmen then launched the AM Hot Rod Glass and focused on the same objectives "Clarity, Optics & Fit".... This has changed the Hot Rod Industry and Carmen Continues to build Ridler Winning Applications for any and every type of car/vehicle in the Automotive Industry. "I know we are always given the "hard stuff" or "challenges" that no one else can build, but we find a way to figure it out and we build it and people are amazed..... That is why they call me a "Unicorn".....apparently it translates to "UNBELIEVABLE"...... I am so proud of that!", stated Carmen Belanger-Martin, CEO of AM/AM Hot Rod Glass. Carmen Belanger-Martin is the only Indigineous/Black Woman of Color that owns, runs & manufactures this type of product in the U.S..
African American Racers Association
Christopher Harris has over 20 years of experience volunteering and creating grassroots programs in underprivileged communities. He's worked with the Hip-Hop has Heart Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In motorsports, he has run numerous organizations in the Drag racing, Roll racing, and Drifting space; he has worked with the IHRA on developing rules for their street car sportsman segment. Also, he is formally the General Manager of Palm Beach International Raceway and the creator of the world's first professional roll racing sanctioning body, the International Roll Racing Association. Enjoying the life behind the scenes, he continues to consult various racers, promoters, and sanctioning bodies throughout the industry. The AARA combines two of his greatest passions, motorsports and grassroots social work.
Co-Founder and CEO
Lisa Lunsford is the co-founder and CEO of GS3 Global, a tier one manufacturer headquartered in the metro-Detroit area. The company, a supply chain integrator, specializes in metal form manufacturing and assembly. Lunsford has over 30 years of experience in the mobility space. She began her career at Ford Motor Company as a research and development engineer. After ten years with Ford, Lunsford founded iThinc, a custom software development company, and went on to create GS3 Global in 2010. In 2018, Lunsford was named to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors, and in 2020, Lunsford began her tenure as the chair of the MICHauto Board of Directors. Among other recognitions, she was honored by Automotive News in 2015 and in 2020 as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry. She resides in Detroit with her husband and daughter.
Chief Executive Officer & President
Lordstown Motors Corporation
Edward Hightower is the Chief Executive Officer & President of Lordstown Motors Corporation (Nasdaq: RIDE), an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of electric vehicles for the commercial fleet market. He is also CEO of the MIH EV Design LLC joint venture between Lordstown and Foxconn. Previously, Hightower served in several new-product development, engineering, strategy, marketing, P&L leadership, and senior executive roles between Ford, BMW, and GM. He also worked as a hands-on growth, strategy, and operations consultant at AlixPartners, LLP and Motoring Ventures LLC, which Hightower founded. He has extensive experience in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Hightower serves on the boards of directors of Tritium (Nasdaq: DCFC) and HEVO; and served as an advisor to Kiira Motors, a Uganda-based manufacturer of electric buses. Hightower authored the book Motoring Africa: Sustainable Automotive Industrialization, published in 2018. Based on his industry experiences in China, India, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil, Motoring Africa makes the case and offers an actionable roadmap for building sustainable manufacturing businesses in six of the 54 countries in Africa. Originally from Chicago, Hightower earned a BS in General Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business; where he serves on the Ross School Advisory Board, Sanger Leadership Center Advisory Board, and chaired the Ross Alumni Board of Governors. He and his family live in metro Detroit, Michigan, USA.