Valerie Menard Latinos On Wheels Editor>

Valerie Menard, editor of Latinos On Wheels, was born in southern California and raised in Austin, Texas. A 2nd-generation Mexican American, she is a former senior editor for Hispanic magazine. Valerie also is the author of two published books, as well as a former board member of the Texas Auto Writers Association. She has English and journalism degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
I focus on the interior, how it smells, the gauge cluster illumination, the ease of the infotainment system. My current favorite feature is the real time fuel economy calculator. I really think it helps people drive more energy efficiently.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
Like any industry, it was male dominated for so long, we’re still trying to rewrite that and I do think it’s getting better. I see many more female auto writers now than in the past as well as managers and executives. As for car buying, until dealerships hire more women, female car buyers will be treated like pigeons.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
I didn’t set out to do this, it just evolved. As a freelance writer, you must follow opportunity and that’s what I did.

First automotive job?
Editor of the car department for Hispanic Magazine.

Proudest professional achievement?
My two books, The Latino Holiday Book and Latinas in Love.

Current challenge at work?
I’ve transitioned from editor to associate publisher/editor. Crossing over to the sales side is much more difficult than anticipated. I thought being passionate about the product would be enough but there’s a little more to it than that.

Dream job?
No job or working for a nonprofit Latino arts organization.

What you do to relax?
Watch way too much TV and shop.

Who have you mentored who did someone mentore you in this industry to help you get started?
I’ve mentored many interns. In the auto industry, Christopher Jackson has thanked me multiple times for giving him an opportunity to write about cars. My most memorable auto mentor was Scott Brown, West Coast PR rep for Chrysler. He encouraged me to pursue this full time.