When people think Mustang, what often comes to mind are qualities like sportiness and “masculine cool,” right? So it may be a surprise to learn some key players in bringing Mustang to life over the past 50 years have been women.
Ford is marking International Women’s Day, March 8, 2014, and National Women’s History Month this March with a look at some of the women who have played an important role in creating the all-new Ford Mustang, as well as women who have influenced the pony car over the past 50 years.
Throughout the course of this American icon’s life, women have made contributions to the Mustang story in many ways; in fact, the first person to buy a Mustang was a woman. In 1964, a Chicago schoolteacher, Gail Brown, made history when she became the first Mustang owner in America. She still owns the car, and what makes her story all the more special is that Brown bought her Mustang on April 15 – two days before the car was set to go on sale.
Today, women hold key positions at Ford Motor Company in the development of the all-new Mustang, in roles ranging from engineering the customer drive experience, to picking the car’s colors and materials, to continuing the Mustang legacy of being a household name.
Marcy Fisher, vehicle line director
As vehicle line director for the program, Marcy Fisher oversees every detail of the all-new Ford Mustang as it comes together – from the planning process to when the car hits dealer showrooms.
Fisher is excited to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help develop and launch the all-new pony car in its 50th year.
In addition to her Mustang responsibilities, Fisher serves as vehicle line director for Ford Explorer, Taurus, Police Interceptor, Flex and Escape development.
She has 28 years’ engineering expertise in manufacturing and product development, having joined Ford in 1986 as an engineer.
Since then, Fisher has held a number of positions with the company, including several engineering jobs at assembly plants where the vehicles come together on the line; she has also served as director of design engineering in product development.
Fisher has had a passion for people development throughout her career with Ford Motor Company. In addition to her core responsibilities, she serves as co-chair of the vehicle operations diversity council, as a board member for Ford Design Institute and as vehicle operations co-chair for the Ford College Graduate Program. Fisher has worked as a mentor in the manufacturing leadership program, and is a member of the personnel development committee.
She has twice been named to the 100 Leading Women in the Automotive Industry list by Automotive News.
Michele Lubin Henney, vehicle integration supervisor
When customers get behind the wheel of the all-new Mustang, they will get a world-class driving experience thanks in part to the tireless efforts of vehicle integration supervisor Michele Lubin Henney. A lifelong motorsports enthusiast, Henney’s passion was sparked in her grandfather’s auto body shop, and during weekends spent at the track watching her father race motocross. Today, she has her own collection of motorcycles, and loves to hit the road with her husband.
While many engineers are responsible for specific systems and components of a car, Henney is responsible for the integration of vehicle attributes – how the car sounds, how it feels when it drives, fuel economy, and driver and passenger comfort, to name just a few. Her goal is to provide the best holistic experience for the customer.
“Mustang attracts a variety of customers, all of whom are looking for the ultimate Mustang driving experience,” says Henney. “As a female engineer on the program, I can offer a different perspective from the men on the team. I believe the end result is the most refined total driving experience we’ve ever offered our customers. I can’t wait to see their reactions when they drive the new Mustang for the first time.”
For Henney, the best part of the job is the time spent behind the wheel evaluating all aspects of the driving experience as she works to help create the ultimate vehicle to satisfy customers.
“Customer expectations for Mustang are different from other cars,” she explains. “People love their Mustangs. From our involvement with racing, owner groups and enthusiast events, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the Mustang customer at a level I have not experienced on other programs. Every engineer at Ford is passionate about the work they do, but the performance, style and sound of Mustang inspire a personal connection to the car that makes us want to take it to new levels.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this team,” she adds.
Susan Lampinen, chief color and materials designer
As a car that first prided itself as the car “designed to be designed by you,” Mustang has always offered customers an incredibly diverse array of colors, packages and special editions to make each vehicle a personal creation. For the past decade, Ford chief color and materials designer Susan Lampinen has guided the process of selecting those often iconic exterior paint colors, along with colors and materials for the Mustang cabin.
“Mustang paint colors need to denote performance, sportiness and power,” says Lampinen. “I’m looking at authentic, expressive materials that need to be more premium, with a relentless attention to detail. With Mustang, I’m not afraid to take a risk.”
Lampinen has many favorite Mustang colors from throughout the car’s history, but a current hue, Race Red, stands out among the rest. It is a color that captures the athleticism, power and passion of the pony car – and what Mustang doesn’t look good in bold, expressive red?
Melanie Banker, U.S. marketing manager
As Mustang marketing manager for the United States, Melanie Banker plays a critical role – first in bringing the car to customers in the marketplace, then in monitoring its performance.
A member of the Mustang team for several years, Banker works in both research and development of the new car, as well as in the consumer marketing process.
“Men and women use their cars and the features of their vehicles differently, so having both involved in research and development is extremely important,” Banker explains. “Everyone loves Mustang, so it is important for us to keep all customer groups in mind when making vehicle decisions.
“I hear from customers every day sharing the things they love about the car, and people send me pictures of themselves with their Mustangs,” says Banker. “I get requests from 7-year-olds asking me why we make certain vehicle decisions.”
A Missouri native, Banker has lived all over the country. She now resides in Michigan with her two dogs.
“The dedication of the team as a whole is amazing, because everyone here knows how much Mustang means to its fans and to Ford,” says Banker. “Working on the product side has given me a whole new appreciation for how a company works to put a vehicle together. This has been exceptionally rewarding, and I’m very excited for what’s to come.”