CREF Introduces 2023 Executive Committee

CREF Introduces 2023 Executive Committee

The committee consists of seven industry professionals who are dedicated to supporting the future of the industry through engagement with collision schools and students.

The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) has announced its newly appointed executive committee, which consists of seven industry professionals who are dedicated to supporting the future of the industry through engagement with collision schools and students.

CREF’s 2023 Executive Committee includes:

  • Chair Steve Schmidt (State Farm)
  • Vice Chair Brenda Hogen (PartsTrader)
  • Treasurer Stacy Bartnik (Intertek)
  • Secretary Doug Irish (Fayetteville Technical Community College)
  • Trustee-at-Large Ryan West (GEICO)
  • Trustee-at-Large Mark Helvenston (IAA, Inc.)
  • Immediate Past Chair Tom Wolf (PPG Industries)

“For 2023, I am excited to be part of the board of trustees as CREF intensely focuses on its mission ‘to support collision repair educational programs, schools and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities,’” said Schmidt. “This is an important mission, and working together, it will allow a fantastic CREF staff and a very engaged board to be successful in the year ahead in our efforts to support these individuals, their development and ultimately their retention in the industry.”

“I am honored to take on the role of vice chair at CREF, and I am eager to work closely with the staff, board of trustees and strategic partners to execute our mission and vision for 2023,” Hogen said. “Our goal this year is to create a comprehensive strategy that will address the shortage of technicians in the workforce and provide qualified, trained individuals with the opportunity to succeed and make a meaningful impact in their careers. Together, as a team, we will work towards our common goal of adding value to the technical workforce and showcasing the importance and potential of technicians in today’s society.”

Bartnik agrees: “My goal is to continue to work with our board and staff to drive awareness and support from all industry stakeholders to ensure we have well-trained employees coming into our industry. We must make sure that those entering the workforce know about all the opportunities in the industry and that the schools are able to provide the right education and training. We need our industry to fully support our efforts as they will all benefit.”

Doug Irish said: “I look forward to participating in the executive committee’s discussions for CREF’s future and hope that we can continue having a great impact on collision school programs and students in 2023 and beyond. I truly enjoy the collaboration with other trustees as we map out the goals and objectives for the foundation. Serving on the executive committee allows me to provide a voice directly from the education field on how CREF can best serve the needs of the education community.”

“By the end of 2023, we need to turn the tide on the number of students pursuing an education in collision repair,” West believes. “With the greatest need ever for trained collision repair staff, we can’t allow the continued reduction in students pursuing training in collision repair. It is why we exist. We will ensure all of our funds and all of our efforts are focused on that objective and have a measurable impact.”

For Helvenston, CREF’s mission is personal. “This industry has been wonderful to me throughout the years, and giving back has been a mission for me for a number of years. I look forward to furthering that mission in this role.”

In addition to the executive committee, CREF’s board of trustees consists of:

  • Keith Bell (Axalta)
  • Tom Brown (3M)
  • Kevin Burnett (Gerber Collision & Glass)
  • Mike Croker (Chief Automotive)
  • Paul Folino (LKQ Corporation)
  • Ty Gammill (Caliber Collision Centers)
  • Andreas Hecht (CCC Intelligent Solutions)
  • Ken Hudson (Farmers Insurance)
  • Sean Huurman (Service King Collision Repair)
  • Josh Krentz (Forbes Road Career and Technology Center)
  • Sandee Lindorfer (Allstate Insurance Company)
  • Don Mikrut (Wejo)
  • Mark Verbois (Enterprise Holdings)

Trustee emeriti include J. Laurence “Larry” Costin (CCC Information Services, Inc.), Lirel G. Holt (U, Inc.) and Chuck Sulkala.

Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can click here to learn about the many ways to get involved. Monetary donations can be made online.

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