Leslie Saunders presenting a seminar at the 2012 Auto Rental Summit. Photo by Joanne Tucker

Leslie Saunders presenting a seminar at the 2012 Auto Rental Summit. Photo by Joanne Tucker

Leslie Saunders, CEO and founder of Leslie Saunders Insurance Agency Inc., a provider of insurance services for the auto rental industry, has been named as an inaugural recipient of the Legacy of Leaders Award for Women of Distinction.

This award will be presented at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) 20th anniversary convention in New Orleans from March 21-23, 2017. The first-ever award recognizes a commitment to the organization and its mission to break down barriers for women-owned businesses in corporate and government supply chains.

“As a woman who founded our company over three decades ago, it is an honor to earn this award along with 25 women business leaders selected from 14,000 certified members of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council,” said Saunders. “This award is the result of years of unrelenting work by our team, as well as essential collaboration with our innovative and inclusive clients. We work with business leaders from Fortune 500 companies to thriving local businesses. Beyond bringing the right skills and products to service complex insurance needs, earning the trust and business of leading corporations takes tenacity and time. …”

Saunders built her insurance business specializing in servicing car rental agencies and airport concessions. Since 1994, Leslie Saunders Insurance has been the only certified woman-owned insurance agency, which now encompasses all 50 states and 240 airports.

The Women of Distinction Award not only acknowledges the hard work of each woman selected, but it also opens the door for other women and minorities to excel in their fields. Saunders started her own one-person agency. Meeting and networking with other women in multiple industries expanded her exposure to strategies and opportunities for business development.

Certification through WBENC opens doors for women- and minority-owned businesses, according to the organization. WBE certification provides proof a woman (or women) has majority ownership and control of a business entity.

“Being part of WBENC, and serving on their board, made it possible for me to achieve nationwide connections,” said Saunders. “I could never have accomplished this level of business without the networking opportunities presented by membership in this group. I would urge all businesswomen to join WBENC. The mentoring, peer advice, and access to procurement is definitely worthwhile.”