Gift for Life expands board of directors
Gift for Life, a national charitable organization in the gift, stationery and home décor industries, added seven new members to its 25-member board of directors.
The new members are: Alana Branston of Emerald, Kelly Bristol of Purchasing Power Plus, Randa Crisler of The Portico Collection, Inc., Wes Hardin of Diverse Marketing, Amy Loewenberg of NY NOW + SF NOW & Emerald X, Fred Rosenkampff of The Link Companies and Angela Schmook of Road Runners.
“We are excited to welcome these respected industry leaders to the Gift for Life board.” said Ari Lowenstein, chair of Gift for Life. “The influx of new energy, talent and enthusiasm will help us expand the reach of Gift for Life and the impact we can make as an organization. I look forward to working alongside our entire board as we support causes including World Central Kitchen and their amazing crisis-related hunger relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.”
Alana Branston is the group vice president of gift & home at Emerald and brand leader at NY NOW, a gift and home B2B tradeshow. She was previously co-founder and CEO of Bulletin, an online wholesale marketplace backed by Y Combinator and acquired by Emerald in 2022. Named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” Alana led sales for the CPG and retail verticals at content marketing startup Contently and was director of business development at luxury denim line 3×1 before founding Bulletin.
Branston said, “I’m thrilled to be joining the Gift for Life Board of Directors and to participate in such an important cause. NY NOW has a long history of supporting those in need, whether it be small businesses or those battling hunger or illness, and it’s an honor to join in that mission.”
Kelly Bristol was introduced to the gift, home and stationery industry in 1995 as amfAR’s (the American Foundation for AIDS Research) liaison to the Gift for Life board. In 1999, she joined GLM (now Emerald X) on the team producing the National Stationery Show and spent nearly 20 years on the show, followed by senior roles at the Dallas Market Center, Brandwise and MarketTime. Currently, she is director of business development at Purchasing Power Plus, a healthcare gift shop network founded in 1996. Her numerous volunteer roles include participating on the Gift for Life-NY NOW team for AIDS Walk New York, and currently serves as team co-captain.
“I am deeply honored to have been elected to the board of Gift for Life,” said Bristol. “This opportunity to serve holds a special significance for me as I previously worked as a liaison to the board from 1995-1999 during my tenure at amfAR. Gift for Life was my introduction to an industry I have loved being a member of for more than 25 years. I am both proud and humbled to be working alongside such extraordinary individuals in this industry and eagerly anticipate contributing to the board and assisting Gift for Life in its admirable fundraising initiatives for many years to come.”
Randa Crisler has been a part of the gift and home world her entire life, working her first trade show for her mother’s rep group, Toni Fulfer & Associates, when she was 11 years old.
Following college and a 10-year stint at Hilton Hotels, Randa returned to the wholesale gift industry as the Dallas territory manager for The Kennedy Group. Randa found her passion working with customers during eight years with Kennedy followed by three years at In-Detail as a national account manager. The last 20 years, Randa has spent managing the PARTY at The Portico Collection.
Crisler enthused, “This industry has been one of the greatest gifts of my life and I am honored to be joining the Gift for Life board and to help shine a light on all the wonderful people in this industry.”
Wes Hardin is CEO of Diverse Marketing, a wholesale rep agency now entering its 65th year. He credits the industry as positively impacting his career growth over the last 20 years, with roles at Diverse Marketing including showroom team, territory manager, key accounts, president and now CEO. Diverse Marketing’s recent growth has been fueld by acquisition of SE Marketplace and the growth of our digital marketing agency, Diverse Insights.
“I am thrilled to serve on the board of Gift for Life,” said Hardin. “Being part of an organization with such a long history of giving back is incredible. I will do everything possible to do my part and make a difference.”
Amy Loewenberg is the senior relations manager for NY NOW at Emerald X, a gift, home and lifestyle B2B market. Her 25-plus years of experience in the industry emanates from her tenure of running stores, leading successful teams and business development, to stepping into her merchant shoes in the early 2000’s. Her passion for product continued to develop when she was a buyer for Kate’s Paperie, the iconic NYC paper emporium and continued to grow during her time at Blue Tulip and Housing Works. Now she is a leading partner in growing the retailer presence with the NY NOW + Bulletin Relations team through establishing and developing partnerships with key national and regional industry organizations. Additionally, she is driving engagement by producing valuable content and conversations through podcasts, webinars, newsletters, social media, advisory boards, and speaking engagements. Amy considers herself to be a champion for people, for product and for facilitating mutually beneficial and treasured relationships.
“I have worked in tandem with the GFL Board for a number of years now through my involvement with the AIDS Walk New York,” said Loewenberg. “Our mutual dedication for this important and meaningful cause has aligned me with Gift for Life both personally and professionally. Joining this incredibly talented and collaborative team of industry friends and colleagues and together supporting this mission, is a huge honor for me. I am greatly looking forward to the work we are about to embark on and the advancements we are going to make. I couldn’t be more excited!”
Fred Rosenkampff helped launch The Link Companies with his father in 1985. Since then, it has grown from eight original employees covering seven states to 115 employees in 31 different states. In 2021, the company became the only Employee owned (ESOP) agency in the industry. One of the trademarks of The Link Companies is charitable giving, donating over $750,000 in the last 20 years, including $100,000 during the coronavirus pandemic in the summer of 2020.
“I’m joining the board to try to help bring awareness to the causes that are important to myself and our industry,” said Rosenkampff. “As we get older, we see the true benefits in giving and the rewards of volunteering to help others. I’m aware of the importance of working with these charities that do so much for others, and I look forward to participating in Gift for Life’s fundraising efforts.”
Angela Schmook is vice president of Road Runners, a multi-line sales agency with showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas. She has a passion for leading people, streamlining operational processes, and helping to make our world a better place. With 20-plus years of industry experience, she is especially passionate about specialty retail.
Schmook offered, “I recently had the opportunity to see first-hand the impact World Central Kitchen makes in a community after devastation. There is no greater joy for me than to be part of a program making an impact in the world.”
The Gift for Life Board is now comprised of 25 recognized leaders in the gift, home and stationery industries:
- Jessica Barile, Design Works Collective
- Alana Branston, Emerald
- Kelly Bristol, Purchasing Power Plus
- Maureen Carpenter, The Queen’s Jewels
- Sheila Charton, Springboard Futures
- Randa Crisler, The Portico Collection, Inc.
- Cole Daugherty, Dallas Market Center
- Wes Hardin, Diverse Marketing
- Emalee Hoffman, Studio Oh!
- Angela Jacobson, Stephen Joseph
- Russ Jones, Ivystone
- Matt Katzenson, Fine Lines
- Amy Loewenberg, NY NOW + SF NOW, Emerald X
- Ari Lowenstein, Emergent Workshop
- Julie McCallum, Gift Shop Plus
- Landon Metts, MarketTime
- Nancy Michael, International Housewares Association
- Sarah Mount, International Market Centers (IMC)
- Andrea Padilla, Transpac
- Fred Rosenkampff, The Link Companies
- Peter Schauben, Schauben & Co.
- Angela Schmook, Road Runners
- Cathy Steel, Steel Associates
- Crystal Vilkiatis, Crystal Media
- Lenise Willis, Gifts & Decorative Accessories