Friday, February 20, 2015

ChiIL Mama's Adventures at Women Driving Excellence #WDE15 #NissanCAS #AD

I've got to admit, 25 years ago, when I was a struggling writer/actor newly out of college, I worked the Chicago Auto Show for Saab, in what I only half jokingly refer to as my "booth bimbo" days. I had a college degree with honors, yet the market seemed more interested in my face than my brains. And I was one of the lucky ones among the Chicago Auto Show women. We got to wear t-shirts instead of bikinis, like so many of the "models" were required to work in. Still, we had to wear heels and hose with our short shorts and endure thousands of men hitting on us day after day and panning up and down us with giant, late 80s era video cameras. 

Thankfully, 25 years later, "Women's Day" at The Chicago Auto Show doesn't mean token complimentary manicures or more bikini babes. In 2015 women are THE major automotive purchasing force and a force to reckon with, and the women being recognized at the auto show include doctors, lawyers, politicians, police, entrepreneurs and TV producers. And not one of them was required to show up for work in a bikini!

It was our great pleasure to partner up with ChicagonistaLIVE and Nissan for Women Driving Excellence for the second year. Last Tuesday was indeed an enriching, educational, and fun day with informative, inspiring women. I'm also thrilled to say I'm back, working The Auto Show, and getting paid for my writing skills, with Media credentials around my neck, and no short shorts and high heels required!

Smart blonde, Janet Davies, getting honored instead of ogled at The Chicago Auto Show, with emcee, Andrea Metcalf. 

Disclosure: We have been compensated for sharing this information with our readers and covering the event. As always all opinions are our own. Thanks to Women Driving Excellence for inviting ChiIL Mama to partner up with them on this fabulous programing again this year. 

Women Driving Excellence - celebrating women who start, accelerate, fuel, and steer others to excellence. 

Check out our slide show here for our full photo recap from the day including the incredible honorees. Some of our favorite shots are embedded below as well.

Women's Day, Feb. 17, 2015

I couldn't possibly choose a favorite story among the nominees. We all laughed together, and commiserated. I did enjoy Debi Lilly's story of hiring on friends of her little brother as a summer favor, and how that ended up being her golden ticket to work with Oprah. The honorees had empowering stories of overcoming good old boy networks, husbands who step up to help with the kids while the women fly out to pursue their careers, stick shift skills beating the boys for a car parking job, and so many more tiny triumphs and brave chances these women all took to follow their dreams.

Another high point of the day was the medley of tunes from First Date the Musical, sung by the male and female leads. The show is currently playing at Royal George Theatre and highly recommended. We had a chance to catch opening night, and it's hilarious, heartfelt and too true. Check back with ChiIL Live Shows for our full review and video clips from their performance at Women Driving Excellence that will be up shortly.

Dana Parker and Charlie Lubeck (Production Photos Via 'First Date')

Thanks again to Nissan for sponsoring this excellent annual event. And thanks to producers MJ Tam & Beth Rosen (inspiring women in their own right) of the #ChicagonistaLIVE show in coordination with the Chicago Tribune. 

This time last year we were in the market for a new car and I'm excited to admit that we bought that Nissan Rogue I was ogling last year at the Chicago Auto Show. I've been driving it since last March and it's definitely excellent. (No, I didn't get the "ChiIL Mama Rogue" as awesome as it was... I went for the slightly more subtle, gorgeous graphite blue!) We got the 7 seater and it's perfect for occasional visits from the grandparents, carpooling, and taking friends to fun events with us. When Nissan steps up and takes women seriously, and backs some seriously brilliant women, it makes me even prouder to be driving a Rogue.

Thanks also to State Farm. We insure our cars with them, and last year when someone rear ended me and totaled my car at a Kennedy on ramp red light they made the claims process pretty painless. They gave us a rental car while we went car hunting and a decent settlement that went toward the down payment on my sweet new Nissan Rogue! 

"The State Farm Swag Bag Stretch"-- a mini work out lead by emcee and fitness guru, Andrea Metcalf.

2014 Recap:

The ChiIL Mama Nissan Rogue

The Graphite Blue Nissan Rogue

We were quite happy that Women Driving Excellence brought back the networking sessions this year. I made quite a few invaluable connections and came home with a stack of business cards. Thanks to Nawbo (National Women's Business Organization) & Epwng (Exclusive Professional Women's Networking Group) for facilitating. The honorees recognition portion was beyond empowering, with a fabulous assortment of women who are all amazing in their fields. We've been to numerous tapings of The ChicagonistaLIVE show, and it's always a treat to see the rapport of the fab four of the Chicagonista team, imparting wit and wisdom.

Check out more honorees below:

Get social: Want a recap of all the stellar live coverage from #WDE15, follow the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram or check out the Women Driving Excellence Facebook Page. 

For flash giveaways, real time photo features, and the first heads up on incoming fun in Chi, IL and beyond, FOLLOW ChiIL Mama (family friendly) and ChiIL Live Shows (adult) on line and social media.

Disclosure: We have been compensated for sharing this information with our readers and covering the event. As always all opinions are our own. Thanks to Women Driving Excellence for inviting ChiIL Mama to partner up with them on this fabulous programing again this year. 

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