In 2006, SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting (right) presented Leo Kagan with the SEMA Scholarship Committee's Humanitarian Award.
Kagan is an industry icon who was instrumental in the founding of the SEMA Scholarship Program. The new scholarship will be presented annually to a female interested in a career in the restyling market.
"While women were not traditionally involved in our industry, they have become more and more integral over the years," said Kagan. "I'm glad that this SEMA Scholarship will ensure that females receive support and encouragement to pursue careers in the automotive restyling market. Such diversity in our industry is what contributes to the excitement and innovation of the specialty-equipment market."
Kagan began his career in the automotive specialty-equipment industry in 1964 when he was working with Hurst. He went on to work for Amco—the convertible top manufacturer—for about 15 years, before serving as SEMA president from 1975–1979. During his tenure at SEMA, he played a key role in moving the world-famous SEMA Show from Anaheim, California, to Las Vegas.
Kagan continued to be active in the association, helping to establish the SEMA Scholarship Program. In 1982, Kagan was recognized for his contributions by being inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame—a prestigious honor reserved for very few individuals.
"Leo has contributed a great deal to SEMA and to the industry for nearly 50 years. It's great to recognize his long-time work and support through this scholarship," said Joel Ayres, SEMA Scholarship Committee chairperson. "Leo's impact and contributions to this industry will continue to be felt for generations to come."
The Leo Kagan Scholarship will be among the many scholarships SEMA awards annually. SEMA scholarships are presented annually to students pursuing careers in the automotive aftermarket. A total of $130,000 was awarded to 69 individuals in 2012. Applications for the next school year will be available at www.SEMA.org/scholarships in early December, with applications due April 5, 2013.