Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Rita Case, president and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group and a revered South Florida business leader, has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization.
Ms. Case joins 15 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2022 honors. For 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities. Ms. Case is the only woman in the automotive retail business in their 75-year history to become a Horatio Alger honoree. Rick Case Automotive Group is the largest dealership group in the U.S. owned and operated by a woman.
A native of California, Ms. Case grew up surrounded by the automotive industry. Her parents owned the first Honda car and motorcycle dealership in Santa Rosa, California, where she began working as a young child. From selling cars to taking over operations, Ms. Case worked hard to establish herself as a successful woman in a male-dominated industry. As the only woman at the dealership, Ms. Case developed a strong work ethic built upon an early understanding that she would have to work harder and be smarter to be taken seriously.
In 1977, Ms. Case organized a meeting of American Honda dealers. There, she met her future husband and fellow successful automotive dealer, Rick Case. The two joined forces, with Ms. Case adding her professional experience and business prowess to Rick’s dealership in Akron, Ohio. Together, with Rick as CEO and Ms. Case as COO, the Case’s built an automotive empire of 16 dealerships across Florida, Georgia and Ohio that has spanned over 40 years. Today, Rick Case Automotive Group has over 1,300 employees and more than $1 billion in revenue. Having proved that women could have a successful place in the industry, Ms. Case continues to expose women to the auto business and support women on their professional journeys.
In 1982, Ms. Case and her husband created the Rick Case Bikes for Kids program, a community initiative that accepts working, unwanted bicycles and matches them with children in need through their communities’ social service organizations. Over the years, the program has donated more than 125,000 bicycles. Rita and Rick Case Automotive are well known for developing charity events that support the Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society, among many others. Due to their decades of consistent charitable support, the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County named their Davie, Florida location the Rick & Rita Case Club. By 2018, it was announced that the Cases’ efforts raised more than $50 million for community and charitable organizations, earning them the Ray Ferrero, Jr. Economic Development Leadership Award.
“Though she was unfairly met with skepticism and doubt early in her career, Ms. Case knew what it took to be successful and did not back down from the challenge,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “She will be a wonderful role model for our Scholars, showing them what they can achieve with hard work and self-belief. We’re thrilled to welcome her as a new Member and look forward to all she will contribute to our organization.”
In 2020, Ms. Case took over as President and CEO of the Rick Case Automotive Group following her husband’s passing. She is proving, once again, that she can succeed through difficult times, by continuing to effectively lead the company, which is the nation’s largest retail auto group solely owned and operated by a woman. Ms. Case has received many business, humanitarian and automotive honors throughout her career, including the 2004 USA Today Dealer Innovation Award, the 2010 Automotive News Leading Woman in the industry, and the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“Becoming a Member of the Horatio Alger Association is the utmost honor,” said Ms. Case. “I found my passion at a young age and pursued it. Countless Scholars, despite their own hardships, are able to follow their passions and achieve their dreams thanks to this organization. I look forward to hearing their stories and being a mentor to these incredible students, as well as being surrounded by inspirational Members with a common goal to support higher education to our future leaders.”
Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its members, who will have collectively provided more than $235 million to 35,000 students by 2022.
Ms. Case and the Member Class of 2022 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 7-9, 2022, during the Association’s 75th Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance.