Apr 7, 2022
Gift for Life welcomes five new board members

Gift for Life, the gift, stationery and home decor industries’ sole national charitable organization, announced the addition of five individuals to its board of directors: Andrea Padilla of Transpac, Angela Jacobson of Stephen Joseph, Inc., Crystal Vilkaitis of Crystal Media, Landon Metts of Creative Brands, and Maureen Carpenter of nora fleming.

Gift for Life also acknowledged the resignation of long-time member and former Gift for Life Board Chair Frank Joens, formerly with the L.A. Mart.

“We look forward to the ideas and energy these newcomers bring to Gift for Life and our year-round fundraising efforts,” said Cole Daugherty, chair. “We will be launching new initiatives across the country in the coming months that will help deliver food relief in support of World Central Kitchen’s amazing work in the U.S. and around the world.”

Before becoming the director of sales and marketing for Transpac, a seasonal gift and décor company, Andrea Padilla worked her way up from an entry level marketing position to national sales manager. She has been a member of the gift and home industry since 2010, and was named as one of Gift Shop Plus Magazine’s 40 Under 40 honorees in 2021.

Andrea Padilla
Andrea Padilla, director of sales & marketing, Transpac

“I’ve always admired the awareness and the support GFL brings to the fight against AIDS. I feel privileged to be able to join in on those efforts with so many of our amazing industry leaders. In the past, I’ve volunteered for Meals on Wheels and local food banks and feel especially connected to the added support of the World Central Kitchen; I look forward to doing my part and contributing to such an amazing philanthropy,” Padilla said.

Angela Jacobson is a gift and home industry newcomer with just three and a half years working with the team at Stephen Joseph Companies after spending more than a decade in the video game industry. In 2019 she joined the SJC team to run Marketing and later added the role of Sales over both gift divisions, Karma and Stephen Joseph, allowing her the opportunity to be part of a woman-led team experiencing remarkable growth and transformation. 

Angela Jacobson
Angela Jacobson, director of marketing & sales, Stephen Joseph, Inc.

“I have chosen to join the board of Gift for Life because marrying my personal passion for helping others with my professional life is a natural fit. Gift for Life is well-established with potential for visibility and growth with an up-and-coming generation of Home & Gift Industry titans and I want to be part of the group that increases the influence and impact of that. It’s an honor to have been asked to be part of such an influential group and I will love serving our communities more impactfully through the work that World Central Kitchen is doing to feed our underserved populations,” Jacobson commented.

Crystal Vilkaitis is the founder of Crystal Media and a top-rated speaker who has worked exclusively with independent retailers since 2010. She has developed a team of social media experts who have worked with thousands of store owners to significantly increase their foot traffic, sales and profits through training programs and a done-for-you agency. By helping retailers evolve through new social sales channels and easily adapt to the ever-changing digital marketing world, Crystal Media is on a mission to help Main Street thrive. 

Crystal Vilkaitis
Crystal Vilkaitis, founder, Crystal Media

“I’ve always been inspired by Jose Andres’ mission to feed the hungry and take-action attitude to help people today. That’s why I’m honored to join the Gift for Life Board to further increase awareness, and make an impact in partnership with World Central Kitchen,” Vilkaitis said.

Landon Metts has more than 10 years experience in the gift industry, and today serves as sales manager for Creative Brands’ gift division which includes Santa Barbara Design Studio, Slant Collections, Stephan Baby and Heartfelt. In this role, he works with territory reps nationwide and oversees customer service and key account relationships. In 2021, Landon was named as one of Gift Shop Plus Magazine’s 40 Under 40 honorees.

Landon Metts
Landon Metts, sales manager – gift division, Creative Brands

“Having spent my career/life in the Gift Industry, always striving to improve practices and the culture within my microcosm; I am extremely excited about joining the Gift For Life Board to work with industry peers and branch out beyond my limited scope to discover how we can collectively work together to support truly important causes that affect so many. To me, there is so much value found in this wonderful industry, driven not simply by profit, but by the bond of supporting good causes together, which abounds in cultivating an incredible and synergistically enriching culture,” Metts commented.

Maureen Carpenter is vice-president and director of sales at nora fleming responsible for  managing relationships with sales representatives and 1,700 retail locations in 48 states. Maureen joined nora fleming in 2010 as their first employee and her career has grown in parallel with nora fleming’s success. Maureen is active in the gift industry and currently serves as President of the Gift Sales Managers Association (GSMA). She is an active volunteer and advocate for many causes in the Chicagoland area.

Maureen Carpenter
Maureen Carpenter, vice president and director of sales, nora fleming

“Through local groups in Chicago and my work with St. Jude’s, I have experienced firsthand what can be accomplished when many people are brought together around a common goal. For many years I have admired Gift for Life and I am honored to join the talented and dedicated board of directors and do my part to continue the great work they do,” Carpenter said.

With the retirement of Frank Joens, the 23 current Gift for Life board members are: Andrea Padilla of Transpac; Angela Jacobson of Stephen Joseph; Ari Lowenstein of MarketTime; Cathy Steel of Steel Associates; Cole Daugherty of Dallas Market Center; Crystal Vilkiatis of Crystal Media; Doug Self of JDouglas; Emalee Hoffman of Studio Oh!; Jessica Barile of Paddywax; Julie McCallum of Gift Shop Plus; Kim Wahlberg of Kimberly Wahlberg Company; Kristi Forbes of 41 Madison; Landon Metts of Creative Brands; Lenise Willis of Gifts & Decorative Accessories; Matt Katzenson of Fine Lines; Maureen Carpenter of Nora Fleming; Meg Estevez of Emerald Expositions; Monica Loving of Ivystone; Nancy Michael of International Housewares Association; Peter Schauben of Appelman Schauben; Russ Jones of Ivystone; Sarah Mount of Juniper by IMC; and Sheila Charton of Springboard Futures.

Gift for Life was founded by Peter Schauben of Appleman Schauben in 1992 in response to the tragic loss of industry lives to AIDS. The organization’s first meeting at the National Stationery Show brought together a cross-section of the industry’s leading publishers, market centers, sales reps, manufacturers and retailers – all willing to convene and work together towards a common goal. Since that time, Gift for Life has raised nearly $6 million for AIDS research, education, treatment and care through nationwide at-market events, cause marketing programs and direct donations. With COVID-19 temporarily causing cancelation of in-person events at industry markets, Gift for Life pivoted towards online digital events with a specific emphasis on COVID-related hunger relief. As Gift for Life celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2022, the all-volunteer organization will continue to support programs that address hunger relief. More information is available at www.giftforlife.org.

Founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen (WCK) uses the power of food to nourish communities and strengthen economies in times of crisis and beyond. In 2020, with COVID-19 straining traditional food security safety nets like school feeding programs, city services and food banks, WCK pivoted to safely distribute individually packaged, fresh meals in communities that need support and launched the Restaurants for the People program to scale nationwide. This program meets critical needs on two fronts: buying meals directly from restaurants and delivering them to Americans who need help. To date, the program has worked with 2,500 restaurants to serve over 12 million restaurant meals and have disbursed more than $135 million dollars directly to restaurants owners in 400 cities across 35 states. For information, visit www.wck.org.

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