Damon Lester, President of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), is a respected advocate for ensuring diversity remains a priority within the automotive industry. Lester joined the NAMAD team in 2002 as Vice President of Operations and was named President in 200. NAMAD is committed to increasing equitable access and meaningful opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and employees in the automotive retail sales, supplier, manufacturing and service sectors. In his current role, Lester’s responsibilities encompass membership outreach and recruitment, industry relations, and dealership development as well as government and media affairs.
Lester’s expertise and strategic relationships with major auto manufacturers positions him as one of the nation’s leading authorities on consumer finance, entrepreneurship and economic diversity issues in the industry. He testified before the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committee and Senate Financial Services Committee regarding the Detroit Big Three automobile manufacturers’ request for financial relief. Lester also assisted in negotiations between President Obama’s Administration and the Auto Task Force to secure the Memorandum of Understanding with General Motors for “wind-down” dealers. In addition, Lester appeared before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding development of a single fuel economy standard for automobiles and provided testimony before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding automobile dealer financing and diversity in the automobile industry.
Currently, Lester serves on the Board of Directors for the Joyce and Thomas Moorehead Foundation, Americans Well-Informed on Automobile Retailing Economics (AWARE), the Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE), and President of the Bowie-Mitchellville (MD) Diamond Foundation, Inc., which is the philanthropic arm of the Bowie/Mitchellville (MD) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He is the first African-American board member for AWARE. Lester’s insight and opinion has been featured in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, Automotive News, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise Magazine, Network Business Journal, Ebony.com, The New York Times, and many more.
Prior to working at NAMAD, Lester was with Gelman, Rosenberg, & Freedman CPAs in Bethesda, Maryland, where he specialized in creating non-profit organizations through the World Bank and audited international offices of USAID-funded non-profits.
A Temple University graduate, Lester is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and is involved with Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the National Association of Black Accountants. His honors and awards include The Network Journal’s 40 Under Forty Achievement Award (2009), the FMCRC John Gamboa Community Leadership Award (2010), the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Emerging Leader Award (2011), Savoy Magazine Leadership Award (2014), Real Times Media Vanguard Award (2017), Minority Enterprise Advocate Magazine (MEA) Auto Executive of the Year Carma Foundation-Spotlight Award (2018). Lester was most recently inducted into The History Makers (2018), which is a non-profit research and educational institution committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African American, each History Makers interview is videoed and stored in the Library of Congress. In 2019, Lester received the Extraordinary IS Impact Award from The Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation, Inc.