Ford Media Center

Ford Announces Senior Leadership Changes

  • Ford Motor Company announces executive appointments to support redesigned organizational structure and focus on fitness
  • Kumar Galhotra to add global marketing responsibilities to his current role leading Lincoln; Stephen Odell is retiring after 37 years of service with Ford
  • Linda Cash to lead Quality and New Model Launch, succeeding Bennie Fowler who is retiring after serving 27 years at Ford
  • Dale Wishnousky to lead Manufacturing, Ford of Europe, succeeding Cash
  • Birgit Behrendt is named to a newly created position leading Joint Ventures, Alliances and Commercial Affairs, Ford of Europe
  • Lisa Drake to lead Global Powertrain Purchasing and Global Purchasing Operations, succeeding Behrendt
  • Felicia Fields retiring after 31-year career at Ford; Kiersten Robinson to act as interim Human Resources leader
  • John Casesa elects to leave Ford as the company realigns global strategy
  • Joy Falotico, Ford Credit chairman and CEO, and group vice president of Ford Motor Company now reports to Ford CEO Jim Hackett

DEARBORN, Mich., October 24, 2017 – Ford Motor Company today announced global leadership changes as it continues to redesign company operations for long-term success.

“As we develop our strategy to become the most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world, we will continue to reshape the organization to deliver the most value for our customers and all of our stakeholders,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO. “The changes we are announcing today will further align resources and improve efficiencies throughout our global markets and operations.  At the same time, I want to recognize the truly significant contributions of the senior leaders departing from Ford and thank them for their many years of service.”

In Global Markets, Kumar Galhotra, 51, is named group vice president, Lincoln and Chief Marketing Officer, effective Nov. 1. He will report to Jim Farley, executive vice president and president, Global Markets.

In this expanded position, Kumar will continue to lead the transformation of Lincoln as a world-class luxury brand, a role he has held since September 2014. 

He also will lead the Marketing function shifting investments towards product categories that play to Ford’s strengths, and developing more effective brand communications including digital services, emobility and autonomy.  This supports Ford’s smart vehicles in a smart world vision and includes the evolution of a more efficient distribution model using digital platforms. 

With nearly 30 years of global experience within Ford and Lincoln, Galhotra has a deep understanding of product development, business strategy and the role that marketing, sales and service plays within the process.

At the same time, Stephen Odell, 62, executive vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service has elected to retire, after 37 years of service at Ford.

During his career, he was instrumental in leading the development and implementation of Ford’s European transformation plan with an emphasis on achieving profitable growth through an intense focus on new products, a strong brand and increased cost efficiency. He also served six years with Mazda on three continents and as CEO of Volvo.

“Stephen has made significant contributions to Ford, including laying the groundwork for our turnaround in Europe and positioning us for success as we continue to create a world-class global marketing and sales organization,” said Hackett. “In addition, he has mentored and helped develop many of our next generation of leaders. We appreciate his many years of service and wish him well in the future.”

Ford also is announcing the following changes in Global Operations and Ford of Europe.

Linda Cash, 55, is named vice president, Quality and New Model Launch, reporting to Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president, Global Operations.

In this role, she is responsible for driving quality processes throughout the design and production of Ford vehicles, and for new model launches globally, ensuring alignment throughout the business operations. Joining Ford in 1984, Cash has spent her entire career with Ford in Manufacturing.  She previously was vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe, based in Cologne, Germany.

Cash succeeds Bennie Fowler, 61, group vice president, Quality and New Model Launch, who has elected to retire. During his 27-year career at Ford, Fowler has held many key positions in the heart of the company’s business operations, including in Engineering, Manufacturing and Product Development, and began serving in leadership roles early in his career.

Fowler directly influenced the quality of Ford's newest, current and future model vehicles, launching over 900 vehicles, 163 powertrain programs and 19 plants around the world. Under Fowler’s leadership, Ford’s quality improved globally and jumped to No. 2 of all non-premium brands in J.D. Power’s 2017 Initial Quality Study – Ford’s best-ever ranking in the annual study now in its 31st year.

“Ford has made significant strides in improving vehicle quality globally under Bennie’s leadership,” said Hackett. “He has an absolute unwavering commitment to continuous improvement and we are grateful for his contributions to our success. We wish him all the best.”

Succeeding Cash is Dale Wishnousky, 54, who is named vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe and is appointed a company officer. Based in Cologne, Wishnousky will report jointly to Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa and to Bruce Hettle, group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. Wishnousky previously served as director, Global Manufacturing Business Office.

In Ford of Europe, Birgit Behrendt, 58, is named vice president, Joint Ventures, Alliances and Commercial Affairs, reporting to Steven Armstrong.  Appointed a corporate officer in 2013, Behrendt is the highest-ranking German national and first-ever German national female officer working for Ford of Europe.

In this newly created position based in Cologne, Behrendt will be responsible for all joint ventures and alliances in Europe, including the development of new arrangements to support the company’s business growth.  She also will be part of the leadership team responsible for driving the region’s strategic initiatives.

Joining Ford in 1978, Behrendt has held various positions within Purchasing and several global leadership roles. She most recently served as vice president Global Powertrain Purchasing and Global Purchasing Operations in Dearborn, Mich.

Succeeding Behrendt is Lisa Drake, 45, who is named vice president, Global Powertrain Purchasing and Global Purchasing Operations. She also is appointed a company officer.

In this role, Drake will be responsible for all powertrain purchasing operations worldwide, as well as global operational purchasing performance. She will report jointly to Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president, Product Development and Purchasing and to Raj Nair, executive vice president and president of North America.

The following leadership changes also are effective: 

Felicia Fields, 52, group vice president, Human Resources, has elected to retire after more than 30 years with the company. Appointed to her current position in 2008, Fields was instrumental in leading the company’s efforts in talent management, workforce planning, organizational development, recruiting and leadership development as the company recovered from the financial crisis. 

“Felicia has been an outstanding leader and we thank her for the tremendous contributions she has made to Ford throughout her career,” said Hackett. “She has long been a trusted source of guidance and leadership, always putting our employees first, and working to make Ford a great place to work.”

Kiersten Robinson, 47, executive director of Human Resources, Global Markets, will serve as the company’s interim Human Resources leader, effective Nov. 1. Robinson has a wealth of global experience in human resources spanning more than 25 years, including serving in Europe, Asia Pacific and most recently in the Americas. 

John Casesa, 55, group vice president, Global Strategy, also has elected to leave the company, effective Nov. 1, as the company realigns the global strategy function. During his time at Ford, Casesa led the effort to develop the global strategy team and processes to better align the company’s business unit and skill team leaders around the world. Going forward, the Global Strategy function now will report to Bob Shanks, executive vice president and CFO.

“We thank John for his leadership in growing our global strategy capabilities, particularly

related to our progress on mobility, electrification and transportation services,” said Hackett. “We are clearly focused on delivering smart vehicles, connected to a smart transportation operating system, and have begun building out several of our new business models.”

As the company redesigns the organization and grows Ford Credit, Joy Falotico, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Credit Company and group vice president of Ford Motor Company, now will report to Jim Hackett, effective Nov. 1.  Falotico previously reported to Bob Shanks.

Ford Credit will play an increasingly significant role in Ford Motor Company’s business strategy by identifying revenue-generating financing opportunities and mobility business models – including vehicle sharing and flexible payments – that support smart vehicles in a smart world.

All appointments are effective Jan. 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted.

Related Information

  • For biographical information and a photo of Birgit Behrendt, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of John Casesa, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Linda Cash, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Lisa Drake, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Joy Falotico, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Felicia Fields, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Bennie Fowler, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Kumar Galhotra, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Stephen Odell, click here.
  • For biographical information and a photo of Dale Wishnousky, click here.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan, that is committed to helping build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. The company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich experiences for and deepen the loyalty of those customers. Ford develops and delivers innovative, must-have Ford trucks, sport utility vehicles, commercial vans and cars and Lincoln luxury vehicles, as well as connected services. Additionally, Ford is establishing leadership positions in mobility solutions, including self-driving technology, and provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. Ford employs about 176,000 people worldwide. More information about the company, its products and Ford Credit is available at

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