Melanie Batenchuk, Editor and Owner | @BeCarChic
Melanie Batenchuk is the founder and editor of Be Car Chic. In 2009, she combined her unbridled passion for cars and writing to launch the blog dedicated to sharing industry news and automotive advice through the lens of her experience. Melanie’s passion for cars began around age 10, when her father and older brother had a 1972 Porsche 911 S restored. She sponged up the household car talk and her love for the industry grew from there.
A leader in her field, Melanie has worked at the dealership, trade association, and manufacturer levels, providing her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry. She most recently served as Vice President at Beekeeper Group, a public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C., where Melanie applied her knowledge and experience in effective strategic communications, public relations, writing, blogger relations and social media to help clients achieve their goals.
Melanie is currently serving a second term as president of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA), an organization that aims to connect automotive journalists in the Baltimore-Washington area to auto industry executives, regulators and Administration representatives.
Thanks to her distracted driving campaign (Distraction Free Fridays), launched during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April of 2011, Melanie is recognized as a top voice on the areas of consumer advice and distracted driving. Her work has been published by Autoweek, Mashable.com, She Buys Cars, MSN Autos, Jalopnik and various other websites.
Melanie resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with her husband. Following the recent sale of her beloved 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee (“Jeepster”) and 2007 Civic Si sedan (“Spike”), she now shares the wheel of a 2013 BMW X3 and 2003 Honda Accord.
Bob Gritzinger, Contributing Editor | @bobgritzinger
Bob Gritzinger got his first taste of grease and oil as a kid tearing down small engines and repairing go-karts, mini-bikes, motorcycles and cars in the backyard. That eventually led to his first real job as an auto mechanic while still in high school, but Bob’s career took a sharp turn into journalism when he joined the high school newspaper staff. He subsequently earned a journalism degree at Michigan State University and embarked on a 17-year career as a newspaper reporter in Michigan, covering everything from corrupt cops to Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Bob joined the Autoweek staff in 2000 as the magazine’s senior news editor and later served as Autoweek’s managing editor and executive editor, test driving hundreds of new cars each year and attending many of the major global automotive events and shows. Since 2013, Bob has been a freelance automotive journalist, contributing to various outlets including Forbes.com, The Drive with Alan Taylor, GearPatrol.com and Edmunds.com.
Whitney Gonzalez, Contributor and Social Media Manager | @whitneygonzalez
Whitney Gonzalez has admired high-performing cars from a young age since her father is an automotive mechanic and racecar driver. She is intrigued by new developments in the automotive industry and is particularly interested in European cars and racing.
Working full-time in social media by day, in her spare time, Whitney scours the Internet of things for automotive enthusiast sites to keep up with industry trends.
Whitney is a Florida girl, who enjoys frequenting beaches, race tracks, dog parks (with her pup, Cocoa) and running trails all while soaking up the sun.
Owen Bergwall, Green Car & Tech Contributor | @OwenBergwall
One could say Owen Bergwall has been an automotive enthusiast from birth. Well, almost. At age three, he consulted with his mom on the purchase of her V8 Mercury Cougar. A Penn State graduate, Owen grew up loving anything that runs on wheels, rails or sails. He remains fascinated with the nitty gritty details. Owen never minds getting his hands dirty learning how things work and then taking the time to explain it all. By day, he manages litigation technology projects around the world for Fortune 500 companies, AmLaw 100 law firms and government agencies. Owen also enjoys writing about green cars and advanced technology, sailing and cycling, and is active in the DC area sailing, cycling and swing dance communities.
Liza Smith, Automotive Ads Contributor | @Homadge
Liza Smith is kind of obsessed with commercials. And ads in general. It all started with a visit to Japan at age 16. Japanese commercials rocked her world. They were wacky and outrageous and she set out on a mission to transform ads in the U.S. Combining her passion for writing and advertising, Liza chose copywriting as her career path. She has worked on B2C and B2B projects for brands like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, Alarm.com, USA TODAY, Target, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, Toyota and Lexus. Her specialties include website overhauls, corporate brand refreshes, personal brand coaching and television script writing. You can find Liza over at CopySumo.com and her blog, Homadge.com, where she shares her favorite advertising inspirations.