Council Leadership Summit—A Collaboration for Future Success


Tyler Tanaka (left), of Cie Studios, and Paul "Scooter" Brothers, SEMA chairman of the Board, take advantage of the networking opportunities available at the SEMA Council Leadership Summit.
SEMA council leaders shared and listened to each other's industry perspectives at the recent Council Leadership Summit.

It's hard to believe that it’s been 14 years since SEMA hosted the first SEMA Council Leadership Summit. Held this year at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, California, from July 27–29, this event continues to be the one program that brings together the best and brightest rising stars in the organization’s volunteer community and industry.

For this year's theme, “Collaboration for Future Success,” SEMA introduced 19 of the council chairs and chairs-elects in an effort to help them become the best possible volunteer leaders. As part of the annual summit, the leaders are asked to take part in volunteer training, strategic planning and team building.

Throughout the two-day event, the leadership took advantage of every opportunity to network and learn from each other. Feedback from participants included:

“The event seems to have brought council synergies to the surface and, as a result, people were less territorial of ‘their council,’ which enabled transparent communication between each council.”

“I really enjoyed hearing what other leaders thought and felt my council needed most. The inside and outside perspectives were invaluable. Everyone is usually very good at identifying what others can fix and this was certainly true of each others' councils. There were great ideas brought forward for one another. I also thought that the tone was set early for people to be very open and honest this year. There was excellent sharing of real challenges and issues that are taking place within the councils and then addressing the hard choices to make in order to bring about effective change.”

Also, many attendees felt that the event brought them closer to the SEMA Board of Directors.

Several years ago, SEMA took a new approach to the event by working with the volunteer leadership to own their agendas and event outcomes. As a result, they are far more interactive in the meetings, focused on how they can better work with and learn from the other councils and utilize current SEMA programming to support their councils and vice versa.

One thing that has changed is that SEMA is asking members to work outside of their comfort zone. During training, members were asked to see the world through the eyes of other council leaders by taking five minutes to create their own pair of glasses using colorful pipe cleaners. Needless to say, the group responded with an amazing amount of creativity.

The council leadership is recognized for their many years of dedicated volunteer work for their industry trade association. Without their guidance, many programs would not be possible.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in SEMA and/or one of our eight industry segment groups and two professional networks, please contact Monica Terlouw at 909/978-6695 or

Alex Tainsh, of Parts Unlimited Inc., sees the world through the eyes of other council leaders through his homemade pair of pipe cleaner glasses. Kyle Fickler, of Weld Racing LLC, sports his own pair of pipe cleaner glasses.