Capping off a day of education and networking, on Tuesday (Oct. 11), the inaugural RV Women’s Alliance (RVWA) Awards were presented in four categories: Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement, Leader of Tomorrow Award, Champion of Women — Individual, and Champion of Women — Company. The winners were announced from an impressive list of award finalists.
“From the initial planning of the Educational Symposium, we knew we wanted to also have an awards program to recognize not only the women who are doing impressive things in our industry, but also the people and companies who are supporting women. Simply put, these are the Champions of Women,” said Monika Geraci, RVWA board member and award taskforce lead. “The accomplishments and efforts from the women, men, and companies who comprised the award finalists and winners are incredibly inspiring and speaks to the bright future of women in the RV industry.”
The night’s highest honor, the Trailblazer Award of Lifetime Achievement, was presented to Debbie Brunoforte, president of Little Dealer, Little Prices, a Campers Inn Company.
“While it is one thing to accomplish incredible things in your career, it is a whole other to blaze the trail for the women coming up behind you, while also accomplishing incredible things. And that is just what Debbie has done for so many women in this industry,” continued Geraci.
Recognizing the impact she is already making on the industry through her efforts to improve the customer experience, Forest River Marketing Director Alyssa Cox was presented with the Leader of Tomorrow Award. Coach-Net Vice President of Sales Kimberly Gregory took home the Champion of Women Award for an individual and Winnebago Industries was recognized with the Champion of Women Award for a company. Both Gregory and Winnebago Industries have made it a part of their daily efforts to elevate, educate, and promote women in the RV industry.
Following the awards presentation, symposium attendees heard from renowned leadership expert, author, and retired Naval Commander Mary Kelley, who brought her keen insights and years of executive coaching to the keynote session, providing actionable ways to improve attendees’ leadership skills.
In addition to the Awards Dinner, Symposium attendees participated in 12 hours of education focused on effective listening and coaching as well as inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. The educational sessions were split into two tracks, one for established leaders and another for emerging leaders. This format allowed attendees to learn the same topics but alongside industry peers at the same level in their careers.
“The event, from education to networking to the awards, was an amazing success,” said RVWA President Susan Carpenter. “We cannot wait to do this again next year!”
A full description of awards and the winners is below.
Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement
The RV Women’s Alliance Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the RV industry’s advancement while also paving the way for other women to follow in her path. RVWA’s highest honor, the Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement is presented annually to an RVWA individual member.
Winner: Debbie Brunoforte, Little Dealer, Little Prices, a Campers Inn Company
Debbie is a consummate professional, serving in leadership roles across the RV industry for decades, including as past chair of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and on the Go RVing Coalition and Committee on Excellence. As the owner operator of one of the most successful RV dealerships in the United States, Debbie has shown what it takes to be really good in this industry. She is also known for looking out for those around her and saying “yes” whenever her expertise, mentorship, or guidance is needed. As a founding member of the RV Women’s Alliance, Debbie has provided strategic direction and support to the women following in her footsteps. She is also a member of the RV Hall of Fame.
Leader of Tomorrow Award
The RV Women’s Alliance Leader of Tomorrow Award recognizes women who are making a big impact on the RV industry during the beginning stages of her career. The future of the RV industry depends on the cultivation of strong, creative, and hardworking women who will become tomorrow’s leaders in the RV industry. Recognizing the up and comers in the industry, the Leader of Tomorrow Award is presented annually to an RVWA individual member.
Winner: Alyssa Cox, Forest River
Alyssa created a brand ambassador program for Rockwood, designed customer awareness programs, and established the social media presence for Rockwood and Flagstaff brands. Using customer input, she has helped the rest of her team make improvements for a better customer experience. Thanks to her engagement and leadership the Rockwood/Flagstaff brands set the benchmark for customer engagement and product attention. She is not only a leader of the RV industry now but will continue to be one far into the future.
Champion of Women Awards (Individual & Company)
The RV Women’s Alliance Champion of Women Awards recognize those who embody our mission to elevate, educate, and promote women in the RV industry. Recipients of the Champion of Women award have made it part of their daily efforts to make the RV industry a place where women thrive. Recognizing those making the biggest difference for women in the RV industry, the Champion of Women Award is awarded annually to both an individual and a company.
Individual Winner: Kim Gregory, Coach-Net
Kim has been instrumental in elevating women’s presence, professionalism, opportunities, and promotion within the RV Industry. She commands respect in any room she is in, by exhibiting strength, integrity, transparency, and compassion. She has been instrumental in the growth of the women on her team, constantly challenging them to step into their growth, while giving them the freedom to navigate the boundaries of their abilities.
Company Winner: Winnebago Industries
Winnebago Industries is a great example of a company who has an inside team dedicated to advancing women within their company. Winnebago Industries has been a strong advocate in seeking out, encouraging, growing, and advancing all employees to maximize their potential and their contributions to their communities, the company, and the RV Industry. These roots go back to Louise V. Hanson, who with her husband, established Winnebago Industries. Louise had a desire to empower women to follow in her footsteps of achieving prominent and leadership roles in the RV industry. She established a culture within Winnebago Industries of supporting women and encouraging the promotion of women, a culture that is still very much alive today.
About the RV Women’s Alliance
Founded in 2019, the RV Women’s Alliance purpose is to elevate, educate, and promote women in the RV industry, making the RV industry a place where women thrive. Open to anyone in the RV industry who supports our mission, the Alliance has more than 1,200 members from more than 500 companies. The Alliance is headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana, with leadership based across the United States. Learn more at www.rvwa.org.