IAATI Directors Award

Nominations Deadline: May 01, 2024

All nominations should be sent to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This award was created in 1985. It is intended to honor any members who have distinguished themselves by giving extraordinary service to IAATI.

Award Recipients

Name or Group
Nate Bradley and Cora Smolianski
Philip Opperman

The Directors Award, created in 1985, is intended to honor members who have distinguished themselves by giving extraordinary service to IAATI. This year’s honoree is Philip Opperman, a member of the IAATI board and the CEO of Recoveri, operating in South Africa. Philip was a member of the South African Police where he worked in the Criminal Investigation Division. Philip is also the 6th Past President of the Southern African Branch and has served on numerous committees over the years. Currently, he is chair of the IT and Social Media Committee. He has been an active member of our Board since 2014.

Peter Lee, Michael Ledoux, Cory Rodriguez, and Tod Neifert

Peter Lee, Michael Ledoux, Cory Rodriguez, and Tod Neifert received the 2021 IAATI Directors Award. This dedicated group from the North East Chapter and Carfax were instrumental in establishing high-quality virtual training for IAATI members internationally, free of charge, ensuring all members continue to receive training despite the limitations set in place by the pandemic. The virtual technology utilized by the team sets the bar for how virtual training can and should be executed. Congratulations to all four of these dedicated individuals.

George Baker-General Motors

George Baker serves as General Motors’ primary interface to the international vehicle crime investigation community. He leads GM’s Global Vehicle Security Team, working with GM’s technical experts to ensure GM understands and counters current and emerging vehicle crime methods to provide optimal vehicle security to GM product owners.

George has been a member of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators since 2012 and has been a director since 2017. During his tenure as a director, George has served on and chaired on several committees. This year alone George has served on the Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention sub-committee, Counter Measures, Directors Award, Manufacturers Liaison, Marketing, Strategic Planning, and the Vehicle Identification Committee.


George’s dedication to IAATI is in keeping with its highest standards. We are privileged to honor this member on our team as his technical knowledge of vehicle crime is an asset to IAATI. His ability to work with everyone on the board helps to create a very well-rounded and successful association.

Todd Wolf - Ally Financial
2020 Directors award winner _Todd Wolf

Todd Wolf was nominated for the 2020 Directors Award because of his contribution to IAATI as Chair of the Education, Training and Certification Committee and for his work with the Auto Finance Committee.

Over the last two years Todd has chaired the Education, Training and Certification Committee. In this role he was tasked with overseeing the rewriting of IAATI’s Certification Program.

Todd took over the role with vigor and has completely rewritten all the chapters in the reference material, written new chapters, revised and re-written the exam questions, reviewed all the applications forms and criteria for qualification and oversaw the development of a new modernized certificate.

While he did receive some assistant form a small number of his committee members, the vast majority of the work was completed by Todd. He was the driving force behind this project, motivating his colleagues and ensuring the work maintain high standards.

Just revising the content of the certification was not enough for Todd. He wanted to develop the program further. He explored working with NICTA so the Certification Program Educational material and exam can be hosted online on the NICTA platform. He further negotiated a partnership with NICTA whereby for a reduced subscription, IAATI would promote NCTA to our members. For IAATI members, the benefits of using the NICTA platform is that it opens up the opportunity to undertake a range of additional online training already on the NICTA platform.

As indicated, the use of NICTA platform to host our certification, while offering many benefits, also incurs an extra expense for IAATI. To overcome this expense and to ensure that we have the necessary funding in the long term and also have something we can continue to regularly update and further develop the certification program, Todd has worked closely with the ATPA Committee to secure significant funding for the this initiative.

The Certification program is not the only thing that Todd has worked on. He has started work on preparing a Webinar program and has also been active as chair of the Auto Finance Committee. He has negotiated a Partnership Agreement between IAATI and the International Association of Financial Crime Investigators (IAFCI) to work more closely with each other, including promoting both Associations to our members, encouraging the sharing of articles, speakers etc. This Partnership agreement was recently approved by the IAATI Executive Board and will be officially signed by both Presidents shortly.

As an example of this partnership with IAFCI, Todd has drafted a Best Practice Worksheet and Checklist for Auto Dealers to reduce their risk of Finance Fraud, particularly during COVID-19 when there is less face-to-face interaction with buyers. These documents were jointly branded with both Association’s logos and distributed by both Associations. Again this was 100% Todd’s initiative and his work.

While the re-launching of the IAATI Certification Program is nearly completely, Todd is already looking to take the program further. He is looking to have the IAATI Certification program recognized by Standards authorities in the US as the National Standard for Vehicle Crime Investigators and wanting to work with ATPA to ensure that they share their training material and help develop a National Standard Training and Certification Program.

Todd deserves tremendous credit for what he has achieved. He has clearly demonstrated the leadership skills, persistence and willingness to put in many hours of hard work to help IAATI and it members. He is an extremely deserving recipient of the Directors Award. We thank him and congratulate him on this award.

Reginald Phillips, VRSS

Reg Phillips (2nd from the right) Recipient of the 2019 Directors’ Award

The 2019 recipient of the Directors’ Award has always demonstrated exceptional dedication, a positive attitude and leadership attributes, among many others. He actively emulates the highest standards of leadership while performing his diverse duties as chair of different Committees. He has continuously demonstrated exceptional loyalty and dedication to the mission of IAATI, providing organizational direction, deliberation, problem identification and resolution according to the highest professional standards, and not only when he is in a leader role, but also as a team member.

As an active member on IAATI’s Board, he consistently demonstrates the moral courage to speak up when he observes emerging issues and concerns, even when he knows his position may stir debate or disagreement. His personal moral/ethical compass is fully synchronized with that of IAATI, motivating his colleagues to follow suit. His selfless work ethic and impeccable conduct reflect favorably upon IAATI, the Board and other Directors, evoking admiration and respect by his colleagues and fellow IAATI members.

Congratulations to Reg Phillips!

Robert Force Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority

The recipient of the 2018 Directors Award has been involved in Auto Crime Investigation and prevention for many years, both on the international level and in his home state. The recipient is also the Executive Director for his home state’s Auto Theft Prevention Authority and a member of the IAATI ATPA Committee. His tireless and professional efforts have played a major role in the success of the ATPA Committee. For these reasons, the Directors’ Award is presented to Robert Force of the Colorado ATPA.

Robert Force, Director of the Colorado ATPA receiving the Directors’ Award fromPresident JD Hough and committee chair, Danny Sheppard.

Marthinus Odendal
Bill Biondo Posthumously
Ana Laura Brizuela, Auxiliar Letrado en Juzgado

Director Ana Laura Brizuela and Associate Director Reginald Philips being honored with the Directors’ Award by Committee Chair Danny Sheppard.

Reg Phillips, VRSS

Director Ana Laura Brizuela and Associate Director Reginald Philips being honored with the 2016 Directors’ Award by Committee Chair Danny Sheppard.

Tommy Hansen, Galveston Co (TX) S D

The IAATI Directors Award is given each year to a person who is dedicated to IAATI and its mission.

This year, the award was given to IAATI and SCRC Past President Tommy Hansen for his dedication over the past 30 years to the service, promotion and representation of IAATI both at chapter and international levels. He continues to work tirelessly in promoting IAATI in the law enforcement domain.

He has been a wise counsel in board matters that required knowledge of the history and protocols of this great organization and his chapter. He is a great mentor to members seeking appointment to board positions at international, chapter and branch levels. He is also an advocate for the Auto, Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority in his home state of Texas.

(L to R) IAATI President Peter Perrien; Tommy Hansen; SCRC President Danny Sheppard.

J.C.B. Hans Kooijman, ITEB Schadeservices BV

IAATI Director Dennis Connor presentin g European Branch Past President and IAATI Director Hans Kooijman with the Directors’ Award

Brian Salata, Arizona Automobile Theft Authority

Each year, IAATI Directors put their minds together to honor someone what has shown a high level of commitment, dedication and professionalism to IAATI. This year, they honored Brian Salata of Arizona.

Brian Salata has been an IAATI member for over 10 years. He was appointed as the IAATI Legal Advisor in 2004 at the IAATI Seminar in Antwerp, Belgium and he continues to act in that capacity.

Brian provides the President and the Executive Board with professional advice on all matters relating to legal and contractual issues ensuring that IAATI is not exposed to litigation. He also acts as parliamentarian at IAATI Board meetings

He has delivered presentations at IAATI training seminars addressing legal and prosecution issues directly related to auto theft investigations.

Professionally, Brian was a Prosecutor for the Pinal Country (Arizona) Attorney’s Office and following retirement, he went into private practice. In 2009 he was named the Executive Director of the Arizona Auto Automobile Prevention Authority a position he currently holds.

Brian was the Chairperson of the “Mexico/South America Development”. His hard work came to fruition at our conference in Kansas City when the IAATI membership voted to grant “Branch” status to the group from Latin America.

Brian recently attended a seminar in Argentina where he provided a PowerPoint presentation in Spanish, to enhance seminar communications he is in the process of changing the IAATI Kiosk language to Spanish so that it will be understood by the majority of the attendees at future seminars.

Brian continues to assist IAATI members, his chapter and the Executive Board with legal and professional advice.

Brian is a great ambassador for IAATI and gracious host to members who have travelled from overseas to attend IAATI training seminars.

Brian’s commitment to IAATI is evident in his comments to the Executive Board, as quoted, “It continues to be my honour to serve in the capacity of Legal Advisor”.

Robert C. Hasbrouck, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police Dept. Ret’d.

(L-R) IAATI President Chris McDonold, Director Dennis Connor and Bob Hasbrouck

The words that come to mind when you think about or speak of Bob Hasbrouck are: dedicated, devoted and mentor.

Bob has not only given many years to the organization at both the International and Chapter level, but serves as a mentor to new members and new Board members.

Bob has a wisdom about him and a fair and balanced way of uniting people whether on a committee or in discussions at meetings. Bob was also instrumental in aiding membership when the time came for new Chapter members to automatically become members of International.

Bob has served as President of the Northeast Chapter from 1991 to 1992. In addition to moving through the Chairs at the Chapter level, Bob continues to actively attend and participate in all meetings, guides new Board members, and has served willingly on numerous committees and continues to do so, well into his so-called retirement.

In this capacity, he mentors new members and new Board members as the voice of wisdom and reason. At the International level, Bob served as President from 1998 to 1999 through his election in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bob has also served IAATI as its Treasurer beginning in 1991 through 1998, and again from 2003 to the present date. Serving as Treasurer is a tremendous responsibility.

Bob has also served IAATI on numerous other committees whenever needed and continues to dedicate himself to our organization. It is Bob’s personal demeanor and guiding ways that make him such a tremendous asset to the organization as he patiently accepts his duties and responsibilities.

He always serves to the best of his abilities and sets an example for the rest of the Board and membership.

Marthinus H. Odendal, Ret’d Colonel South African Police Service, President Southern African Branch of IAATI

In recognition of his years of service to IAATI and to the Southern African Branch, Tinus Odendal was honoured at our Orlando seminar with the Directors’ Award. A familiar face at most of our seminars, Tinus was unfortunately not able to attend. Accepting on his behalf was Gerald Davis, 2nd VP of his branch.

Tinus was instrumental in raising the profile of IAATI in his native South Africa and his presentation to the IAATI Board in 2008 led to the reinstatement of Southern African Branch. Tinus served as President of the Southern African Branch from 1995 to 1996 and was again elected President in 2008.

The award also took into consideration Tinus’ dedication to the vehicle theft investigation as a member of the South Africa Police Service. Tinus served with the SAPS from 1977 to 1997. Tinus’ rose
to the rank of Superintendent and during his distinguished career he served in varied investigative units with significant focus on motor vehicle theft and associated vehicle crime. Tinus retired from the SAPS 1998 and then went to work for Tracker.

Now after 12 years with Tracker, Tinus is moving on to other endeavours but hopes to remain active in IAATI as well with SAPS Reservists where he holds the rank of Colonel.

Jimmy & Pat Hester

This Award was created in 1985 to honor members who have distinguished themselves by giving extraordinary service to IAATI. This year’s award was given to Pat and Jimmy Hester as joint recipients.

Jimmy Hester had an outstanding 33 year law enforcement career. He started as a Deputy Sheriff, then progressed to Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and then Chief of Detectives. In 1985 he joined the Tennessee Highway Patrol as a Special Agent in the Criminal Investigations Division where he was later promoted to Special Agent in Charge. For 25 plus years, his main focus has been in vehicle identification and stolen vehicle recovery.

He is a past President of the Southeast Chapter of IAATI as well as an instructor at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy and the National Forensic Academy. Jimmy has authored and coauthored manuals currently being used by investigators throughout the Country on Interview and Interrogation, Cargo Vehicle, and Vehicle Identification. He also wrote and lobbied for the Tennessee Chop Shop Law which was enacted in 2000 along with several other laws.

After Jimmy retired from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, CID, in Nashville he began working with the LoJack Corporation as the law enforcement Liaison. Jimmy is married to Pat Mitchell Hester.

Pat also had a distinguished law enforcement career. She retired in April from the Tennessee Highway Patrol-CID after 33 years with the State of Tennessee, 30 as an agent with the Highway Patrol Criminal Investigations Division. She also retired as Special Agent in Charge.

Pat served as the first female President of IAATI from 1990 to 1991, Past President of the Southeast chapter from 1989 to 1990, and currently serves as the Secretary of the Southeast chapter. She continues to instruct at various seminars and institutes, including, but not limited to, the National Forensic Academy and the Chattanooga Police Department.

Jimmy and Pat live in Hermitage, Tennessee and have three children and seven grandchildren.

Both have been and continue to be valuable assets to IAATI.

Congratulations to both on this award! 

Sheri Taynor (left) and Mikel Longman with the Award for Pat and Jimmy Hester

Marianne Finney, State Farm Ins. Ret’d

This years Directors’ Award has been awarded to Marianne E. Finney. Marianne has been the Marketing Director for IAATI since 2004. As the Marketing Director, Marianne is in charge of
selling IAATI merchandise at the annual conference as well as on the internet. It is also part of her job every year to come up with new sales ideas. Marianne has done a great job. Since she has
taken the position of Marketing Director, the sale of IAATI merchandise has grown. She has also taken the initiative of investigating new ideas before making them a new IAATI merchandise item.
Each year at the conference, her merchandise choices not only attract IAATI members, but also family members too. She has mastered the craft of balancing IAATI merchandise sales to both
members and non members. She has made a positive impact on spreading the IAATI name.
Congratulations, Marianne! Job Well Done!

Michelle Lanham, Texas ATPA, NCTCOG-RATT
Dennis Roske, Minnesota State Patrol - Retired

Carol Vannatter - AAA - Southern California (post humus)
James Holmes, Metro Transit Police, Washington D.C.
Brian Wood, Thames Valley Police, UK - Retired

Kevin Curry, 3M Corporation

Bob Kohler, Director Lamtjanst AB , Sweden

Marianne Finney, State Farm Ins and Joan Pitts, Hertz Corporation

Charlie Banks, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Police Department - Retired

James Spanel, Lincoln, NE Police Department

Geoff Brown - First IAATI Web Master

Jerry Williams, Ford and Jerry Riley, General Motors

Tim Kett