President, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. Lanham, Md. Age: 36
Damon L. Lester says first impressions are extremely important because they could be your last. So, when he testified on behalf of minority auto dealers at Congressional hearings on bailing out the auto industry, he meant serious business. “I really enjoy what I do,” says Lester, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. “It’s an honor to work with a group of intelligent and industrious entrepreneurs who have triumphed amid trials and tribulations placed before them in the automobile industry.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Lester learned early how to develop a diligent work ethic to compensate for average test scores. He excelled because of his will to work hard and his desire to learn, and from coping with all the constructive challenges his mentors threw at him. “Having a mentor is such a wonderful and humbling experience because they’re constantly challenging you to strive and be an analytical thinker,” says Lester.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Temple University, Lester put his analytical skills to the test as a supervisor in the audit and consulting department of Gelman Rosenberg & Freedman Certified Public Accountants in Washington, D.C. He joined NAMAD in 2002 as its vice president of operations and became president in 2006. In his spare time, he coaches soccer at the Boys and Girls Club in Bowie, Md., and would like to teach high-school students how to enter and advance in the automobile industry.
Quote: “Don’t focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Favorite book or author: The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
What actor should play you in a movie: Terrence Howard
Xbox or PlayStation: Wii
Favorite sports team: Philadelphia Eagles
First car: 1991 Chevy Beretta GT
First job: Super Fresh supermarket
Number of countries visited: 15
Favorite charity: Purple Heart