Meet the FRAP team member who introduced the MY24 Mustang

Maria Cunningham is front and center at the MY24 Ford Mustang reveal—and about to introduce the new models at the event in downtown Detroit.

Maria Cunningham stood on the stage at Hart Plaza and the emcee of that night’s event handed her the microphone. Cunningham had the honor of helping to introduce the new seventh-generation Ford Mustang.

Cunningham participated in the reveal program, where she got a chance to share her story as a fourth-generation Ford employee, and showed off the watch she was wearing, originally given to her great-great grandfather Walter Marzec on his retirement from the Rouge Plant with the signature of Henry Ford II on the back. Her grandmother has the watch and loans it out only for “very special occasions.”

“I was so excited and so happy I got this opportunity,” said Cunningham, who works in Decking. She said the crowd at Hart Plaza didn’t make her any more nervous than she was when she got to the stage.

“I was more excited than nervous,” she said. At 6-foot-1 inches tall and a twin, Cunningham said she got used to being visible in a group. She did worry about flubbing her lines but only a little.

Not only did the crowd at Hart Plaza witness her announcement, but it was also carried on all three Detroit television stations – and then in news feeds across the country. Her parents and immediate family in the area were watching on YouTube. “It was so incredible,” she said. “Everyone in my family said they were crying with joy when they were watching. They are so proud of me.”

Relatives and friends from outside Michigan knew of her role later that night.

“I was getting calls and texts from relatives in Florida that night saying that they saw me on the news,” Cunningham said. Her husband, Scott Taylor, was there that night and videotaped the event so they could show their children – Victoria, 5, and Theodore, 1 ½ – the next day.

Cunningham was sworn to secrecy about her role in the program until the event. None of her coworkers in Decking knew that she was going to be on the stage. The next morning, she got plenty of comments from co-workers who congratulated her on her role.

Cunningham was hired in at Flat Rock in July 2013 and has “worked all over.” She started in Instrument Panels, then transferred to Trim before transferring to Decking (which is part of Chassis). She also worked as a floater for a time.

Cunningham is humbled to be a part of the Ford story, as her family has been for nearly 100 years. Her great-great grandfather was hired into the Rouge in 1925 and worked for 35 years before retiring. Her grandfather Michael Cieliczka works in Stamping at the Rouge. He started there in 1976 and, in 1982, went to the B Building where they made Mustangs then, installing gas tanks for nine years before the sports car moved to Flat Rock.

Maria Cunningham at her post in Decking.