During the inaugural RV Women’s Alliance (RVWA) Educational Symposium next week, the RVWA will recognize the Trailblazers of the RV industry at the Awards Dinner, the organization announced in a release. The RVWA 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 RV Women’s Alliance individual member.
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at The Renaissance in Schaumburg, Illinois.
“Throughout my 30-plus year career in the RV Industry there have been many women who have paved the way for others to come up behind them,” said RVWA President Susan Carpenter. “We are thrilled to be able to recognize the lifetime achievement of these women that have blazed the trail for so many other women.”
After careful review of the many applications, the award selection committee has narrowed down the award nominations to the following six finalists.
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 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.
Lesa Colvin, Florida RV Trade Association
Lesa has grown the Florida RV SuperShow into an international show and her work over 35 year is why this has become a major RV event. She is tireless in her focus on details and making sure all exhibitors feel welcome and appreciated. Industry leaders return to the show every year and go out of their way to hug and thank Lesa for her work.
Debi Jones, Airxcel
As Airxcel CFO, Debi has been instrumental in helping build Airxcel into a leading worldwide RV supplier. Her work in both private equity and public company ownership have demonstrated her broad abilities in acquisitions, capital raising, and multiple sale transactions. Helping to grow Airxcel into one of the leading suppliers has helped the industry continue to thrive by providing quality products, to support industry growth over more than 30 years. More importantly, her leadership helped develop a culture where employees thrive and accountability is expected. Debi’s accomplishments with Airxcel are a result of a lifetime of effort and represent real trailblazing within our industry.
April Klein, Lippert
April has stood on the frontlines of nearly every transformation that has occurred in the RV industry. She broke the ceiling by being in sales, dealer relations, customer service, and becoming an executive. For years, she was the only female on the executive team, and she maintained extreme professionalism that not only earned her respect from her male counterparts, but also set the bar for other women in the field: Be really good at what you do; don’t take things personally; stand up for yourself; and care deeply about people, product, process, and progress. She is truly a trailblazer who others attribute their opportunity to make a positive impact on our industry.
Heather Sailer, Airstream
After working for over a decade at Shorewood RV Center, Heather Sailer joined Team Airstream in 2013 as the Sales Training Manager. In her role, Heather has carved out a niche where support was needed between her company and dealer network – training dealers and their salespeople. She has built an online Learning Management System to educate salespeople around North America as well as internal associates. Her attention to detail and project management skills ensure dealers are receiving the highest quality and most accurate training materials. Throughout her tenure with Airstream, Heather has continued to innovate and set new standards for the dealer training program.
Sherry Shields, Pan Pacific RV Centers
Sherry Shields continues to make significant contributions to the RV industry by serving in multiple industry roles, such as the Secretary of the RV Dealers Association and as an active and engaged member of the Spader Management 20 Group for thirty years. She is the directive force behind education and innovation at Pan Pacific RV Centers. Sherry’s leadership has resulting in her dealership winning the Top 50 Dealership title for five consecutive years, the Winnebago Circle of Excellence Award, and the Jayco Top 50 for North America. Sherry is also an active and engaged member of the RVWA Board of Directors.
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.