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Idea Emerges to Create a Networking Group for Women in Fleet

February 8, 2011, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

There are a number of professional women’s associations. A quick Google search will bring up Women in Film, the Association for Women in Communications, Women in Animation, Women in Aviation, Women in Higher Education, Women in Engineering, Women Mathematicians, etc.
Why not an association for  women in fleet?

This was the thought that struck Carolyn Edwards, director of operations, vehicle acquisition for LeasePlan USA. What prompted it was a lunchtime conversation with co-worker Nancy D’Amico, executive vice president/chief information officer for LeasePlan USA. D’Amico told Edwards about an organization of which she is a member, called the Technology Association of Georgia, which has a subgroup called Women in Technology. The subgroup was founded in 1994 and currently represents almost 1,000 women professionals who work for technology companies. Its mission is to advance women in technology “from the classroom to the boardroom” by providing advocacy, leadership development, networking, mentoring and technology education.

Edwards wondered aloud, why can’t the fleet industry offer something similar?

“I thought of all the people with whom I interact in the fleet industry. More than half are women, working at the client level, as manufacturer partners, colleagues from other FMCs, and upfit suppliers,” said Edwards. “Many of these women hold high-level positions within the fleet industry and are very influential. How great would it be if the fleet industry had a forum for women to meet and discuss the multiple facets of our roles in the fleet industry?”

Edwards reached out to four LeasePlan clients for feedback and to gauge interest in developing such a group. All expressed support and became founding members. They are:

  • Gayle Pratt, director, global fleet for Ecolab.
  • Sue Miller, manager, fleet program services for McDonald’s Corp. 
  • Ginny Liddle, CAFM, corporate fleet administrator for Terracon.
  • Christy Coyte, corporate global fleet manager for
  • Johnson Controls, Inc.

Since then, several brainstorming conference calls have been held with the founding members to further refine the concept.

“When Carolyn and Nancy first approached me about this idea, my first thought was: ‘I wish this group was around when I first got into fleet,’” said Coyte. “I remember when I first started working in fleet, having to feel my way around for fleet resources until I found out about the NAFA and AFLA organizations. I hope this fleet group will be a valuable resource for woman in fleet, encouraging them to reach out, network, and engage with other professional women in the fleet industry.  I hope it will also provide development opportunities to help all of us be successful in our careers.”

Liddle also believes such a group would offer many benefits. “I see the organization as a means for education, networking, and mentoring with our peers. We could provide scholarships to assist those who desire more education. Mentoring and networking go hand in hand to aid those who need guidance from those who have fleet experience. We all need help in our working lives, and this group would give women in fleet one more outlet for support,” said Liddle.

Although apprehensive initially, Miller also saw value in having women fleet professionals network with one another.

“Personally, I prefer to network with everyone regardless of gender, but I also understand the need to be with like-minded people. So when Nancy and Carolyn called about the idea of a fleet network for women, I was a little apprehensive. My nature is to be inclusive of everyone,” said Miller.  “But then I evaluated the benefit of the Women’s Leadership Network and Working Mothers’ Council in my own company. Being part of these female networks provide an important framework for developing workplace confidence and creating friendships based on our business similarities. It is also a great environment for the tenured women to mentor and share their hard-learned wisdom with the young women just starting out. We are not going to post any ‘girls only’ signs, but I feel we can add to the health of our industry associations by providing this opportunity for women to meet and share. The intent is to give back and share — not separate and exclude.”

As of press time, an official name for the group had not been selected and the mission statement was still being formulated.

“Our focus is connecting women within the fleet industry to each other, to support and help with professional growth to  help advance women in this profession,” said Edwards. “We want to take it slow and get industry feedback.”

If you want to provide feedback, let me know what you think.
[email protected]

Related Topics

Photo Gallery: A History of Women in Fleet

“Here, Gentlemen, Is the Future” (a story from 1970 about top female fleet managers)

A short news story on the original National Women’s Automotive Associates, formed in 1981.



  1. 1. Shari Matzelle [ February 09, 2011 @ 09:08AM ]

    I am very interested in the Women in Fleet group. Having been involved in wireless, GPS, tracking for fleets for many years, I see a very big opportunity for growth, mentoring, development and success.

    Please let me know how I can learn more.

    Best regards,

  2. 2. Katie Schlutow [ February 09, 2011 @ 09:16AM ]

    Thank you for posting the news on this developing women’s group. As a young female only a couple of years into my fleet career, I know that I personally would love to be involved in such a group. Particularly in mentorship, education and support, that’s definitely where I feel a group like this could be beneficial. I absolutely agree with Sue Miller who said, “Personally, I prefer to network with everyone regardless of gender, but I also understand the need to be with like-minded people.” We should network regardless of gender, yes, but there is a something different you get when you are supported by a female peer, especially in an industry that’s perceived as dominantly male. While I’m not sure how to explain it Sue may have summed it up by simply describing us as “like-minded.”

    If you have any further info or contact information I could use to show my support for this, please let me know.

    Thank you,
    Katie Schlutow

  3. 3. Rachel Bragg [ February 10, 2011 @ 09:44AM ]

    I read your article yesterday and have to tell you I am thrilled at the prospect of this group! I am somewhat new to the fleet world and am "learning the ropes" as they say.

    Most recently I was working in the aviation industry, I actually started up a group called Pilot Career Initiative becuase in a very short amount of time we will be desperately low in the amount of pilots we have available to fly domestically. There are many challenges in that industry, such as no funding to folks that want to train to become pilots, thus they are not filling the pipeline...I could go on and on, but the point being that I enjoy being involved in making things happen with the industry I am involved in. ( The Pilot Career Initiative was actually invited to be involved during lawmaking efforts on Captiol Hill, we made some great strides, but still have further to go on this one!)

    I would really love to get involved in this initiative and wonder if you could pass my message along to the organizers or point me in the right direction. I would be most appreciative.

    Rachel Bragg

  4. 4. Elaine Schwartz [ February 10, 2011 @ 12:23PM ]

    I was delighted at the idea of a Women's Fleet group. I have been in the Fleet Operations and Maintenance field for over 20 years and have sometimes been the only female in the room. This has changed over the years but I welcome this new group. If you need help setting this up, or networking, please contact me.

  5. 5. Kathy Beach [ February 10, 2011 @ 12:52PM ]

    This is a great idea, one I would welcome very much! At the RMFMA conference in 2010 we held a break out session aptly named "Women in Fleet". I would very much support this group and help out in any way I can. I would also like to see the government sector brought in as well.

    Kathy Beach

  6. 6. Gail Hill Williams [ February 10, 2011 @ 07:36PM ]

    This is awesome!!! How do I get involved!!! Please contact me! I own a business that offers Sustainable Fleet Solution and am Minority/Women Certified whose target client base is Corp, Municipal, State, Hospital, Education and Airport Fleets...

    I would love the opportunity to get involved!


  7. 7. Erica Wallace [ February 11, 2011 @ 12:35PM ]

    Great idea, I would love to get involved!! I'm located in Chicago but travel the Midwest and Southeast working on new business development.

  8. 8. Holly Weberman [ February 11, 2011 @ 01:32PM ]

    In the automotive aftermarket there is the Car Care Council Women's Board - we are very very active and growing -I'd say about 100 members - and we provide the same kind of networking, development, and mentoring environment that it sounds like the women in fleet are looking for. We would be very excited to have members in the fleet community connect with our group. Check us out at's_board. Or contact me, Holly Weberman at [email protected]

  9. 9. Rachel Johnson [ February 14, 2011 @ 06:20AM ]

    I would love to join your group. I think the support from other professional women in fleet, who can share their experience would be beneficial.

  10. 10. Donna Bibbo [ February 24, 2011 @ 06:24AM ]

    I think that this is a wonderful idea. We have a Women in Novo Nordisk (WINN) group at work, and it is a wonderful venue for development.

  11. 11. Anonymous [ February 25, 2011 @ 02:49PM ]

    Now wait an minute – while I actually support the idea of a “women’s support group,” if we, as men, started a group that restricted its members to only men, it would be considered inappropriate. The reason that we have organizations like NAFA and AFLA is to support each other regardless of gender. Let’s support each other as we have or improve what is in place.

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Mike Antich

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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