ICRS Keynote Speaker Breaks Barriers to Overcome Adversity



USAF fighter pilot Michelle "MACE" Curran spent over a decade flying high performance fighter aircraft, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. From 2019-2021, she flew as the only female pilot for the Air Force Thunderbirds and performed for millions across the country and internationally.  -  Photo: Michelle Curran

USAF fighter pilot Michelle “MACE” Curran spent over a decade flying high performance fighter aircraft, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. From 2019-2021, she flew as the only female pilot for the Air Force Thunderbirds and performed for millions across the country and internationally.

Photo: Michelle Curran


In her 13 years of being a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Michelle “MACE” Curran fought two enemies that can be more dangerous than an enemy flyer: Fear and self-doubt.

These adversaries can also combat many businesspeople pressured to hire the right people, create a cohesive team, and perform at a high level while doing more with less. Curran will share her frontline stories on April 16 during the International Car Rental Show at Horseshoe Las Vegas. The keynote is presented in partnership with 1st Source Bank.

Curran spent over a decade flying high performance fighter aircraft, including a combat tour in Afghanistan. From 2019-2021, she flew as the only female pilot for the Air Force Thunderbirds and performed for millions across the country and internationally.

“We’re kicking off the 2024 ICRS with a fresh approach,” said Chris Brown, associate publisher of Auto Rental News and ICRS conference chair. “MACE will share her incredible life experience to inspire us to overcome obstacles — which we’ll weave through the rest of the event and take it home to empower our business and personal lives.” 

“1st Source Bank is honored to partner with the ICRS team to bring Michelle ‘Mace’ Curran’s inspiring story and relatable business insight to our vehicle rental community!” said Kirk Browning, vehicle fleet finance president at 1st Source Bank’s Specialty Finance Group.

“MACE’s example of commitment to excellence, growth mindset, teamwork, preparation, precise execution, building trust, overcoming adversity, and pushing beyond self-limiting beliefs, will serve as a catalyst for attendees to accelerate and elevate themselves and their vehicle rental businesses,” added Chris Craft, president & chief operating officer of 1st Source Bank’s Specialty Finance Group.

Flying Through Fear

Curran’s presentation, titled “Flying Through Fear: How Vulnerability Fuels Success,” delves into how true success hinges on each team member’s ability to let go of fear, be bold, and expand their comfort zone.


Curran's evolution from struggling with a crippling fear of failure to fly aircraft inverted only inches from other aircraft at 500 mph will inspire attendees to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  -  Photo: Michelle Curran

Curran’s evolution from struggling with a crippling fear of failure to fly aircraft inverted only inches from other aircraft at 500 mph will inspire attendees to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Photo: Michelle Curran


Like most people, business owners, operators, and employees will struggle with self-doubt and imposter syndrome at some point, according to Curran’s message.

Curran battled these obstacles while attempting to find her identity in a high-performance, type-A culture.

Her evolution from struggling with a crippling fear of failure to fly aircraft inverted only inches from other aircraft at 500 mph will inspire attendees to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Curran has also been named the Distinguished Alumna of the Year by the University of St. Thomas in 2021. She has been featured on several well-known media platforms, including The Kelly Clarkson Show, CBS Evening News, and Glamour.

Before joining the Thunderbirds, Curran was a combat-proven fighter pilot completing missions across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She has a passion for pushing her limits, inspiring others, and changing lives.

Since transitioning out of the military, she has founded her company, Upside Down Dreams, and is committed to empowering men and women of all ages to overcome obstacles and the fear of failure.

The International Car Rental Show will be held April 15-17, 2024 at Horseshoe Las Vegas.





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