About Us

Autos Drive America strives to grow the U.S. automotive industry by advocating for, and defending, open trade and investment policies that expand employment opportunities for Americans and choice for all consumers.

Our Members

Autos Drive America’s members have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy, providing community investment, economic growth, and good-paying careers.

Meet the Autos Drive America Team

Jennifer Safavian

President & CEO

Jennifer Safavian was named Autos Drive America first president and CEO in April 2020.

She is an accomplished government relations professional with two decades of policy experience both in government and the private sector.

Before joining Autos Drive America, Safavian was Executive Vice President for Government Affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Prior to holding that position, she spent the majority of her career on Capitol Hill, serving as Staff Director and General Counsel on the House Ways & Means Committee, and holding senior positions on other key House Committees, including Energy & Commerce and Oversight & Government Reform.

Among her various accolades, Safavian was named one of the “Top Trade Association Lobbyists” by The Hill six times since 2017. She has been named by the National Law Journal as one of the “Top 10 Lawyers on Capitol Hill” and one of the “Fabulous 50” top congressional staff members by Roll Call.  Safavian has a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law and holds a B.A. from Saint Louis University.

Rory Heslington

Vice President, Government Affairs

Rory Heslington joined Autos Drive America as Vice President of Government Affairs in August 2021.

In his role, he spearheads the Association’s legislative and policy agenda on a range of issues impacting the automotive manufacturing industry.

Heslington is widely recognized as a trade policy expert.  He previously served as International Trade Policy Advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance under Chairman Chuck Grassley.  Joining the Finance Committee in 2015, Heslington advised on international trade policy that included trade negotiations, supply-chains, e-commerce, and customs. Prior to joining the committee, Rory spent 13 years in the private sector managing market research studies and working for a leadership development training firm.

Rory earned his M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Political Science and International Relations from Utah Valley University.

Beth Schoenbach

Vice President, Communications

Beth Schoenbach joined Autos Drive America as Vice President of Communications in January 2023.

In her role, she spearheads the association’s communications agenda and supports its advocacy efforts in both trade and national media. She brings more than 15 years of political strategy, media relations, and public affairs experience to the position, as well as deep relationships on Capitol Hill.

Beth previously worked as a Director at Golin, a global PR firm, providing strategic advice and public affairs counsel to Fortune 100 clients in the manufacturing, tech, and transportation industries. Prior to her time with Golin, she spent more than a decade on Capitol Hill, including six years as the Communications Director for Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio. She previously worked as the assistant to DCCC Chair Steve Israel, a member of congressional leadership.

Beth graduated from Skidmore College with a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Women’s Studies and holds a Master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University.

Peter Comstock

Senior Director, Government Affairs

Peter Comstock joined Autos Drive America as Senior Director of Government Affairs in February 2024.

In his role, Comstock will promote the Association’s policy goals on behalf of international automakers in Congress, state legislatures, and the Executive Branch.

Prior to joining Autos Drive America, Comstock was Senior Director of Legislative Affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors, where he worked on issues related to workforce and education, labor, tax, trade, immigration, and health care at the federal level. Comstock also served on Capitol Hill for more than nine years, working for Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Comstock is a graduate of Virginia Tech.


Edward Stewart

Senior Manager, Trade & Economic Policy

Edward Stewart joined Autos Drive America as Manager, Trade and Economic Policy in January 2020.

Prior to this he was a Trade Analyst at Global Automakers where he worked with the Here For America coalition advocating for policies promoting free trade and a competitive and vibrant American auto industry. Edward is a native of Washington, D.C. and a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he earned a B.S. in Economics and a minor in History. While at U. of S.C., Edward conducted research on the numerous economic benefits the auto industry brought to the state.

Andrea Mejia

Manager, Public Affairs

Andrea Mejia joined Autos Drive America as Manager, Public Affairs in July 2022.

Prior to this, she interned with BMW’s Government and External Affairs team where she contributed to advancing issues important to the BMW Group and the automotive industry on both global and domestic levels.

Andrea earned her B.A. in Global Affairs with a minor in Human Security from George Mason University and completed an International Security Studies program at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Meet the Autos Drive America Board of Directors

Bob Nelson

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Bob Nelson is Executive Vice President of Honda Development & Manufacturing of America, LLC (HDMA) and center lead of its Manufacturing Management Center, which includes all Honda auto production operations in the U.S., as well as the Planning & Strategy, North American Quality, Accounting and Human Resources business units.

Nelson began his career at Honda in 1987 as a purchasing staff member in the production procurement group at Honda’s Marysville Auto Plant, in Marysville, Ohio.

From 1990 to 1996, he worked in various procurement departments including the raw materials group, cost research group and electrical & component procurement group. While on a three-year assignment in Tochigi, Japan, Nelson managed a liaison function supporting Honda manufacturing in Ohio. Upon his return to the U.S., he worked within several purchasing planning functions.

As a leader in the North American Purchasing Division, Nelson helped develop and implement a number of initiatives to strengthen Honda’s supply base. Additionally, he coordinated many projects in e-commerce, business planning, strategic planning and recruitment. When Honda expanded its manufacturing operations to Alabama in 1999, Nelson developed the sourcing strategy for those operations.

In 2011, Nelson was promoted to senior vice president and served as part of the leadership team at Honda’s auto plant in Greensburg, Indiana.

In 2013, Nelson became president of the Indiana Auto Plant, where he was responsible for the company’s operations and leadership of 2,400 associates. Additionally, during his tenure, the plant increased its model mix from one model to a three-vehicle line-up, which included the addition of the Honda CR-V.

In April 2018, Nelson returned to Ohio in a senior leadership role as general manager of the company’s Planning and Strategy Division, which included establishing business strategies for the North American manufacturing and business operations. In addition, he was a leader of Honda’s auto manufacturing and engineering functions in North America.

In January 2019, Nelson was named executive vice president in charge of operations for all automobile manufacturing plants in Ohio.

In April 2021, with the establishment of HDMA, Nelson’s role expanded to lead the new Manufacturing Management Center, with responsibility to improve the manufacturing constitution and production characteristics for all of Honda’s U.S. auto manufacturing facilities related to frame, engine and transmission production, along with related engineering and purchasing operations.

Nelson is a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in procurement and materials management, and production and operations management.

Robert Engelhorn

BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC

Dr. Robert Engelhorn is the President and Chief Executive Officer of BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC.

He joined the BMW Group in 2011 and occupied various positions at the Munich and Regensburg plants in Germany. In 2016, Engelhorn moved to the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture in China, where he led the Technology and Production division for the Dadong and Tiexi plants. In 2018, Engelhorn took over as director for BMW Group Plant Munich, where he prepared the plant for production of the all­ electric BMW i4. In 2021, Engelhorn became President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

He is active in the community at a local and national level and also serves on the board of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States, Inc.

Robert Burns

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama

Robert Burns is Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery, Alabama.

Before joining Hyundai in 2007, Robert spent 9 years working for Georgia-Pacific (GP) in Atlanta, Georgia. He was senior manager of communications for GP’s North American Commercial Tissue Business and Communication Papers. His experience at GP included directing public relations for five consumer products manufacturing locations, human resources and labor relations issues. Prior to joining Georgia-Pacific, Robert served in public relations and communications roles for International Paper and the State of Mississippi.

Robert graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and a minor in communications.

Stuart Countess

Kia Motors America, Inc.

Stuart Countess is President and Chief Executive Officer of Kia Georgia, Inc.'s manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia.

Countess is responsible for all operational facets of the four-model assembly plant that employs over 2,900 employees and produces a capacity of 340,000 vehicles annually.  A graduate of the University of Alabama in Electrical Engineering, Countess began his 30-year manufacturing career with Hughes Aircraft Corporation before moving into automotive at the Mercedes Benz assembly plant in Vance, AL.

In 2008, Countess was hired as the Sr. Manager for Kia Georgia’s General Assembly shop, where he was a key figure in developing and implementing The Kia Way and the Georgia Production System as core practices of the facility’s operational system.  Since his hiring, Countess has held positions as the company’s Director of Quality, Vice President of Quality and Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief Operating Officer before assuming his current role.

Tom Donnelly

Mazda North American Operations, Inc.

Tom Donnelly is President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), appointed April 1, 2023.

Previously, Donnelly served as senior vice president, between 2019 and 2023, and vice president, between 2017 and 2019, of U.S. sales and retail operations. In these roles, he was responsible for overseeing U.S. vehicle sales, aftersales, and U.S. regional office operations. During this tenure, Donnelly greatly progressed Mazda’s Brand Value Management in retail operations, while also improving the overall business operations and relations with Mazda dealers.

Donnelly joined Mazda in February 2008 as the regional general manager for Mazda’s Gulf Region before moving to oversee the Western Region.

Prior to joining Mazda, Donnelly spent six years at J.D. Power and Associates, first as a senior account director and later as vice president of automotive client services. He also served as director of field operations and vice president of dealer operations for Autobytel.com. Donnelly began his career with Subaru of America, where he spent 10 years serving in various district and regional management positions.

Donnelly received a Bachelor of Science in management from Rutgers University. He currently resides in Southern California.

Michael Göbel

Mercedes-Benz US International

Michael Göbel is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-Benz US International

Mark Chaffin

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.

Mark Chaffin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA).

Prior to his appointment to CEO, he served as COO, and formerly was vice president of fixed operations.

Chaffin started at Mitsubishi Motors North America in 2007 as the Director of Parts Operations where he successfully helped grow sales and improve operational efficiency in the business unit. In 2013, he was promoted to Vice President of Fixed Operations responsible for the reputation, efficiency and profitability of the Parts and Service department. Prior to joining MMNA, Chaffin worked for Mazda North America and Kia Motors America.

Mark Chaffin represents Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. on the Autos Drive America Board of Directors.

David Johnson

Nissan North America, Inc.

David Johnson is the Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management for Nissan North America.

Appointed to this position in March 2022, Johnson is responsible for managing all facets of Nissan’s manufacturing and supply chain operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Johnson brings more than 20 years of experience in global manufacturing, advanced technology and people-centric leadership. Since joining Nissan in 2002, he’s earned roles of increasing importance throughout Nissan’s manufacturing operations.

This includes his two most recent roles of vice president, Manufacturing, Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant and vice president, Production Engineering and New Model Quality. Johnson also spent time abroad as general manager of New Model and Central Engineering at Nissan Motor Company, UK.

Johnson is a 2021 Automotive News Rising Star recipient. He also serves on the board of directors for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University, and an executive master’s degree in business from Vanderbilt University – Owen Graduate School of Management.

Jeff Walters

Subaru of America, Inc.

Jeff Walters is President and Chief Operating Officer for Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA).

Previously, Walters was Senior Vice President, Sales responsible for the regional sales offices, field operations, vehicle planning and logistics, market development, and sales operations.

Prior to his promotion to Senior Vice President in 2014, Walters worked as Vice President, Field Operations. Previously, he served as Director, Field Operations, Regional Sales Manager and Brand Strategy Manager. Walters also worked in several sales, distribution and marketing roles in the field since he joined SOA in 1992. Before SOA, Walters worked at DuPont as an accountant on the automotive product team.

Walters holds and an MBA from Indiana University and a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan.

Susan Elkington

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Susan Elkington is Senior Vice President of Electric Vehicle Supply for Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

As senior vice president of Electric Vehicle Supply, Elkington is responsible for accelerating the company’s electrified transformation, with a focus on battery and electric vehicle production and supply strategy.

Prior to her current role, Elkington was president of Toyota Kentucky, the company’s largest production facility globally, from 2018-2023. Before Toyota Kentucky, she served as general manager, production control division at Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TMC) global headquarters in Toyota City, Japan, supporting Toyota’s 53 manufacturing plants worldwide.

Elkington began her career with Toyota in 1998 in Princeton, Indiana, as an assembly engineering specialist. By 2013, she held the position of manufacturing vice president at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana.

She currently serves on numerous charitable and corporate boards, including the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, is a member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board and its executive committee, and a member of the board of trustees of the University of Evansville. She is also a non-executive member of Toyota Motor Corporation Australia’s Executive Management Committee.

Throughout her career, Elkington has been recognized as a leader in the automotive industry. She was included in Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry (2020), is an inaugural inductee into the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame (2020), a STEP Ahead Honoree (2014), and an ATHENA of Southwest Indiana Award Finalist (2013).

Elkington earned her mechanical engineering degree from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana.

Pablo Di Si

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Pablo Di Si is President and Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen Group of America, and Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen Brand for the North American Region.

He is responsible for the Group‘s growth strategy in the U.S., with a portfolio of more than 25 EV models planned by 2030. He assumes leadership for the 20,000+ employees across the region who are helping seize the historic market opportunities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Previously, Pablo was Executive Chairman of Volkswagen South America Region with more than EUR 7 billion in sales and 20,000 employees. He led the Latin American market’s return to profitability for the first time in years, promoting the most significant launch of new products in its history tailored to the region’s needs. He led a restructuring focused on cultural transformation, creating new business models, accelerating digitalization, and improving client satisfaction. Volkswagen became the leader in the A0 SUV segment in Brazil, and the brand remains the largest producer and exporter of light vehicles in the country.

Pablo began his career at Volkswagen Group in 2014 as President and CEO of Volkswagen Argentina. He took over the position of President and CEO of Volkswagen Brazil and Latin America in 2017. Recently, he was appointed Executive Chairman of Volkswagen South American Region.

Previously, he held key positions in finance and business development both in U.S. and Brazil with the Fiat Chrysler Group, Kimberly-Clark, and Monsanto. A graduate of Harvard Business School (AMP 2011), he holds an M.B.A in International Management at the Thunderbird School of Management (2002) and a Degree in Accounting at Northwestern University (1996). Pablo also earned a B.A. in Business Administration with a major in Finance at the Loyola University of Chicago (1994).

David Stenström

Volvo Car USA

David Stenström is the Vice President of Manufacturing for USA and Canada, and Plant Manager of Volvo Car Charleston Plant for Volvo Car USA, LLC

He joined Volvo Cars in 1995, and most recently served as the general manager for the Daqing plant in China since 2018. He has held various management positions in manufacturing and manufacturing engineering.

David received his Master of Science degree in Applied Mechanics from Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Have questions or inquiries? Send us a message and we'll be in touch. For media inquiries, contact Beth Schoenbach bschoenbach@autosdriveamerica.org

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