ORLANDO, FL, October 10, 2022 – The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) has named Valerie Hayes Jester to the 2022 Class of the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame. ELFA Chair Mike DiCecco made the announcement this morning at the General Session of the 61st ELFA Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida. The official induction ceremony took place on Oct. 8 at the Chair Dinner preceding the ELFA Annual Convention. Jester, who accepted the honor in person, was recognized as a groundbreaking leader, industry entrepreneur and champion of women in equipment finance.
“We congratulate Valerie for being inducted to the 2022 Class of the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame,” said ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta. “As an industry pioneer, Valerie has helped change the face of equipment finance and her legacy will inspire generations to come.”
Jester has had a long and distinguished career in the equipment finance industry, having worked in the industry for the entirety of her 40-year career. In 1982 she joined Automotive Rentals, Inc. (ARI) to support their fleet leasing sales efforts in the Southeastern region. In 1985 she was recruited by General Electric Capital Corporation to develop their newly created fleet leasing product and also oversaw the company’s capital equipment transactions. In 1987 she founded Corporate Capital Leasing, which specialized in small ticket leasing—specifically the arbor care sector—and was a strategic partner of Pitney Bowes Credit. In 1996 she sold Corporate Capital to an industry consolidation headed by First Sierra Financial that eventually achieved over $3 billion in sales annually and became a publicly traded entity in 1997. First Sierra was later acquired by American Express Business Finance. After this merger Jester started Brandywine Capital Associates, a small ticket equipment finance company, and has been active as President for over 20 years.
As an entrepreneur in the equipment finance sector, Jester knew it was critical to find a forum where she could pursue industry knowledge, share ideas and build relationships, which led her to join ELFA 35 years ago. She first served on committees, including Reinventing ELA (as the association was formerly known), the Ethics Committee and the Small Ticket Business Council. She then served as a Member, Treasurer and Chair of the ELFA Board of Directors.
As the first woman to serve as Chair of ELFA, a position she held in 2006-2007, Jester has been steadfast in her commitment to promoting women’s involvement in the industry and association. She has blazed a trail for women in the industry as a leader, mentor and advocate. As former Board Chair Martha Ahlers remarked at the 2020 ELFA Annual Convention, “Valerie led with confidence and strength, and inspired more women in our industry to come forward to volunteer and to lead.”
In 2015 Jester received the David Fenig Distinguished Service in Advocacy Award in recognition of her contributions to the association’s federal and state advocacy programs. She served as Chair of LeasePAC, the association’s nonpartisan federal political action committee, and through her advocacy has highlighted the value of equipment finance to the U.S. economy and the impact of legislative and regulatory proposals on the sector.
Jester also has contributed to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, serving on the Board of Trustees for six years and chairing the National Development Committee. Her fundraising efforts helped the Foundation to achieve a record-breaking fundraising year in 2014 in support of future-focused information and research for the industry.
Jester is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. She recently co-founded the Community Warehouse Project in her hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania to supply furniture and household goods free of charge to individuals emerging from homelessness. The project served over 400 households last year.
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) is the trade association that represents companies in the nearly $1 trillion equipment finance sector, which includes financial services companies and manufacturers engaged in financing capital goods. ELFA members are the driving force behind the growth in the commercial equipment finance market and contribute to capital formation in the U.S. and abroad. Its 580 members include independent and captive leasing and finance companies, banks, financial services corporations, broker/packagers and investment banks, as well as manufacturers and service providers. ELFA has been equipping business for success for more than 60 years. For more information, please visit www.elfaonline.org.
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