The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, will serve as the backdrop to the 13th annual Spirit of Leadership Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 4, featuring noted author, businesswoman and television celebrity Edie Hand as the keynote speaker, according to Lorraine Schultz, founder and CEO of the Women’s Automotive Association International (WAAI), host of the event.

waaiHand, the author of numerous books, including “The Last Christmas Book” and “Women of True Grit,” will share her inspiring message, “You Pave the Way…Takes True Grit.” Besides authoring more than 20 books, Hand is also known for her numerous television appearances as well as her work with various charities, including the Edie Hand Foundation.

“We are excited and honored to have Edie as our keynote speaker,” said Schultz. “Sharing her real-life stories with secrets to success is certain to be inspirational. Best of all, everyone who attends the WAAI awards dinner will receive an autographed copy of her latest book.”

To cap off the evening, three distinguished businesswomen will receive the WAAI Spirit of Leadership Award, presented in recognition of their professional accomplishments and contributions to the automotive industry. Honorees include Jodi Kippe, partner at Crowe-Horwath, a public accounting and consulting firm specializing in audit, tax, advisory, risk, and performance services; Cherie Watters, general manager of Puente Hills Hyundai; and Audrey Zavodsky, PhD, professional race-car driver and head of human resources, leadership and professional development, for Ford Motor Company.

Spirit of Leadership Awards Dinner

The Spirit of Leadership Awards Dinner is slated for 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at The Venetian. The event is being held in conjunction with the 2012 NADA/ATD Convention. Proceeds from the dinner will be contributed to the WAAI International Scholarship Program, which provides tuition assistance to qualified students pursuing careers in the automotive industry.

“This year’s honorees have had truly remarkable careers, and we are privileged to recognize their accomplishments in the automotive industry and their communities,” said Marcela Fink, WAAI president. “The awards dinner is an exceptional opportunity for professional women in the industry to connect with other successful women leaders, learn more about WAAI and be part of an exciting evening as we pay tribute to our honorees,” added Fink.

Founded in 1995, WAAI centers it efforts on recognizing the achievements of women in the automotive industry, providing networking and relationship-building opportunities, and encouraging growth through mentoring, educational endeavors and scholarships.

For information on the awards dinner, including sponsorships or to purchase tickets, visit the WAAI website, Or email to Lori Sousa, event coordinator,