The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and sponsor Tekion named Leslie Jefferson and Alicia Rivera as the winners of the 6th Annual Women Driving Auto Retail Contest at NADA Show 2023. Jefferson, an acquisition executive for Pohanka of Salisbury in Salisbury, Md., and Rivera, assistant service director for Trophy Nissan in Dallas, Texas, were named the winners at the NADA Show Live Stage.
Launched in August 2019, the video contest is part of NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail initiative, which highlights the current voices of women working in dealerships and encourages other women to pursue automotive careers. The video contest celebrates women who work in all areas of car or truck dealerships, and aims to encourage more women to pursue a career in auto retail. This is the contest’s first tie.
“Equality should not be in just words, but shown in day-to-day actions” said Jay Vijayan, Founder and CEO of Tekion. “We are proud to sponsor and support NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail initiative to empower women in retail automotive. Equality matters and we look forward to seeing an increase in female employment, bringing positive change throughout the entire industry.”
Jefferson has been with Pohanka of Salisbury since 2013. “Being a woman has always been an honorable thing at Pohanka. We take pride in ourselves, our goals, our machines, and our technology, and we don’t let anyone stand in our way,” she said in her video.
In 2020, Jefferson was in a motor vehicle accident resulting in a complete spinal chord injury. Only two percent of people with her injury return to work within the first year, but she was back to work full-time from home within the first 90 days and onsite in seven months.
“No matter if you’re a woman or a man, walking or rolling, there’s room for you in this industry,” Jefferson said.
Rivera started her career at Trophy Nissan 14 years ago at 20 years old as a way to make more money to help her mom. She soon realized the industry offered her a longterm career, as she was promoted to run the Business Development Center, then the rental car department.
“Working here has made me able to still be a part of my kids’ lives and not have to chose if I want to be a professional or if I want to be a mother,” Rivera said in her video. “I can have both.”
Rivera plans to continue her career in the auto industry, next as a service director, then a general manager with her own store.
“It’s never been easy for a female to be accepted into this world. I think now we’re proving more and more every day what we’re capable of. We bring something different to the table. We bring different ideas. We see things in a different perspective,” Rivera said. “My advice for women that are hesitant about chosing this career path would be go for it. The sky is the limit.”
Carmen Hinton, service manager at Carter Myers Automotive Value Subaru, was the winner of last year’s video contest. She and Vijayan announced the contest winner during a segment on NADA’s Live Stage at the organization’s annual event on Saturday, January 28. The videos chosen as finalists were highlighted for their inspiration, production quality, and impact.
“Auto retail is full of opportunities for women – from the service lanes to the showroom,” said Michael Alford, 2022 Chairman of NADA and dealer principal at Marine Chevrolet in Jacksonville, N.C. “Positions in dealerships very often do not require industry experience, and they offer great benefits, career development, and work-life balance. I’m energized by the increase of women in auto and the work this initiative has done to drive it.”
All semifinalists will receive a $500 gift card and the grand-prize winners receive a $1,000 gift card and complimentary registration to NADA Show 2024 in Las Vegas. View the submissions from the 10 semifinalists here and find more information on NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail initiative here.