Fueling the Future: CREF Honors Industry Professionals at SEMA 2023

Hoffman Estates, Ill. (November 14, 2023) –

The 2023 SEMA Show was a time for celebrations, and the Collision Repair Education Foundation certainly took advantage of the opportunity! In addition to hosting its Benchmark Grants Awards Breakfast where $678,500 in funds were bestowed upon 109 schools, the Foundation celebrated collision repair students’ creativity with an Art Meets Automotive showcase and also honored several industry professionals who are “Fueling the Future” during the Collision Industry Red Carpet Awards.

“We truly appreciate the generous impact that’s been made to support the next generation of the collision repair industry,” says CREF Executive Director Brandon Eckenrode. “CREF’s efforts to support collision repair educational programs, schools and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities would be impossible without the support of the industry volunteers and sponsors who help us turn dreams into reality.”

Pam Watson (Albert Kemperle, LLC) was recognized for her volunteer efforts with a 2023 Fueling the Future Award. She was instrumental in delivering 150 quarter panels to 17 schools in the Florida area earlier this year. As a member of her local I-CAR Committee, Watson’s involvement ranges from fundraising efforts and industry events with collision repair peers and students to sitting on school advisory committees, assisting local instructors with CREF’s grant application, hosting shop tours and facilitating panel donations. Through those efforts, she’s happy to report several improvements in her local collision schools: “Students have access to the tools needed to enhance their programs while they’re in school, and they also know they have the industry’s support once they graduate.”

The Foundation also honored Volkswagen Group of America and Audi of America with a 2023 Fueling the Future Award, specifically naming Tony Russo (Volkswagen) and Mark Allen (Audi) for their industry impact, support and contribution. Earlier this year, Audi of America and Volkswagen of America partnered with CREF to donate 78 Audi and Volkswagen vehicles to collision repair programs throughout the United States as a means of enhancing the education of thousands of collision repair students and supporting the next generation of the automotive workforce.

Lastly, CREF presented an award to Ford Motor Company in recognition of its 2023 Vehicle Donation Program.

Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can Contact Us to learn about the many ways to get involved. Monetary donations can be made online.

The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting collision repair educational programs, schools, and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit us online at: www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.

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If you would like more information about this topic or any of CREF’s initiatives, please email info@ed-foundation.org.

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