BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — Four prominent industry women — Maureen LaFontaine, Christina Schrank, Alison Spitzer and Liz Wetzel — will receive the esteemed 2014 Spirit of Leadership Award, which is presented annually by the Women’s Automotive Association International (WAAI). The WAAI award recognizes outstanding professional achievements and contributions to the growth, stature and progress of the automotive industry.

As co-owner of LaFontaine Auto Group, a multi-franchise operation serving the Detroit metro region, Maureen LaFontaine has been instrumental in leading the company to exceptional sales success and achieving the dealership’s Gold LEED certification status. Christina Schrank is president of National Auto Care (NAC), a provider of vehicle service agreement programs since 1984.

Alison Spitzer, vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based Spitzer Management, a family-run dealership group, earned her stripes working on behalf of dealers to save their GM and Chrysler franchises from dealership network consolidations. She is also the co-author of “Grand Theft Auto,” a 2011 book about a group of dealers who banded together to stop General Motors and Chrysler from cutting dealer counts after declaring bankruptcy in 2009.

Liz Wetzel, director of Buick interior design for General Motors global design and an Automotive Hall of Fame inductee, is recognized for her innovation and creativity in the automotive design field.

The women will be honored at the 15th Annual Spirit of Leadership Awards Reception on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Saints and Sinners restaurant in New Orleans. The reception will take place during the 2014 NADA Convention. A portion of the event proceeds will be contributed to the WAAI International Scholarship Program, which provides tuition assistance to qualified students pursuing careers in the automotive industry.

“The women we’ve chosen to honor are noted not only for their extraordinary careers, but also as role models and mentors in the automotive industry and their community,” said Lorraine Schultz, WAAI founder and CEO. “They truly embody the spirit of leadership, and we are proud to recognize their accomplishments.”

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.