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Our story

Founded in 2021, the Della Penna Motorsports NextGen Foundation was established to honor the legacy of IndyCar team owner and legend, John Della Penna. John immigrated to the U.S.  from Argentina at just 20 years old, with a dream to race cars.  Starting as a race car driver, chasing sponsorship and winning championships in different formula series, he eventually founded Della Penna Motorsports. He understood the incredible sacrifices and intense dedication as well as deep financial pockets that racing demands of everyone involved.  He also understood the importance of mentors and coaches to up-and-coming drivers  and sought to provide opportunities for those who didn’t have the resources to succeed on their own. Michelle was an integral part of his racing life and she spent much of her youth travelling the circuit with her father and the team.  She saw first hand how little diversity there is in the sport and across the industry and dreams of lifting the barriers to entry to create a next gen pipeline that better represents the world around us.

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Meet The Team

Michelle Della Penna

President & Founder

Michelle has been a teacher and entrepreneur in addition to being the mother of three boys so she’s always cared about education and inspiring the next generation. Daughter of a race car driver and IndyCar team owner, Michelle grew up at the track and fell in love with racing at a young age. The sound of Indy Cars revving their engines is music to her ears and her dream is to be part of the change in motorsports by providing opportunities in racing and the industry to young girls.  She is a firm believer in “If you can’t see it, you won’t be it”.

mdp@nextgenfoundation.org

Sonia Ramos

Community Outreach Liason

Currently Executive Director of California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), Sonia’s love of racing started with John Della Penna and their collaboration at the Della Penna Motorsports Team. She has spent over 20 years pursuing her commitment to educational equity, working with under-resourced and under-represented communities for over 20 years, helping students and families navigate the college pipeline. 

sonia@nextgenfoundation.org

 

Susan Lucas-Conwell

Acting Executive Director
 

A former CEO and entrepreneur, Susan has always been passionate about creating a level playing field for girls and women of all ages. She founded the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs – Europe, was a Board member for Women in SportsTech and regularly mentors for women-led or focused organizations. A competitive athlete herself,  with four daughter- athletes, she is particularly excited about the Foundation’s mission to diversify the motorsports industry.

susanlc@nextgenfoundation.org

Gino Verna

Creative Services

Gino Verna has been working in branding and design for over three decades. His experience spans from branding in the entertainment industry to not-for-profits and everything in between.  When presented with the opportunity to work with the Next Gen Foundation he jumped at the chance upon reading the “Mission”. 
"It is the most excitement and passion I have felt for a project in years!"-GV

gino@nextgenfoundation.org

 
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The Board
 

Michelle Della Penna

President & Founder

advisory council

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A Supporter level donation of $100 will get mentioned on the website, the programs, and brochures for the events.

 

A Benefactor level donation of $500 gets all of that plus opportunities to attend select events.

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