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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American International Automobile Dealers Association honored a Texas dealer this week with its Impact Grassroots Advocacy Award.

The honor given during its fourth annual International Auto Industry Summit went to Paul Atkinson, the dealer and general manager of Atkinson Toyota Scion in Bryan, Texas, and Atkinson Toyota in Madisonville, Texas.

AIADA explained its Impact Grassroots Advocacy Award is presented by its Legislative Action Network. It's meant to recognize members who have worked to improve awareness among members of Congress on issues impacting America's international auto franchises.

Atkinson has been a member of AIADA since 2000, and association leadership insisted he has been deeply involved in dealer advocacy efforts both regionally and nationally.

Atkinson currently serves as chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Council, as well as president of the Toyota Dealer Advertising Council for Gulf States Toyota. AIADA noted that back in February and March, Atkinson helped to lead a contingent of Toyota dealers who traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf their brand, dealerships and employees.

The association also mentioned that Atkinson's Toyota stores in Bryan and Madisonville have received the Toyota President's Award for 10 consecutive years. The dealerships also earned the Toyota Financial Circle of Excellence Award in 2009.

AIADA also highlighted that Atkinson is a former minister who remains active in his local church, as well as several other community service efforts. That list includes the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the President's Development Council at Harding University, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

"Paul Atkinson has been at the forefront of dealer advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill over the past year, and I can think of no one more deserving of this award," stated AIADA president Cody Lusk.

"He's worked tirelessly in recent months to provide the dealer perspective to the media and Congress," Lusk continued. "AIADA is dependent on dealers like him to take our message first-hand to their elected officials."