AIFD Symposium was a Time of Celebration, Education and Friendship!
AIFD Symposium 2022 was a time of celebration, education and friendship! After the cancellation of two Symposiums, to be surrounded by the beauty of countless blossoms and to be inspired by some of the world’s finest floral artists was life at its best! Thank you to AIFD President Janet Black AIFD for the leadership provided. Thank you to ROOTS Symposium Coordinator Ann Jordan AIFD and Program Coordinator Hitomi Gilliam AIFD for bringing the absolute best to Las Vegas!
The reveal of our accomplishments is but a highlight of the work diligently completed to ensure our success. During an unprecedented time, the AIFD Foundation pivoted quickly to design and launch the new AIFD Foundation website and host virtual design contests outlining PHILosophy while learning to Just Make It Pretty. Phoenix Rising expanded social media awareness of AIFD while the outreach to high school FFA students provided Virtual Learning in the High School Classroom. Virtual Perspectives were offered to the design professional while our Grant and Scholarship program stood strong providing countless opportunities.
We were there in a time of great need and provided a cornerstone of care, paying the insurance deductible for an AIFD member whose shop found its way in the path of the tornadoes that went on to destroy a great deal in seven states.
We sought to provide what we could in the midst of a pandemic in the way of scholarships to study floral design. Numerous funds were established and thus work began to lead all possible to endowment. You can easily see that this Board of Trustees was invested with proven results.
In preparing for the AIFD Foundation events featured at this Symposium, I came across an anonymous quote that spoke volumes and caused me to pause. It simply reads:
“Water Your Roots so Your Soul may Blossom”
It started me thinking and I came to this conclusion. As water is to the root, we are the source that seasoned designers seek when they feel the need to learn more. We are the source that the novice looks to knowing that more awaits. Just as roots require water to ensure a flower to blossom, we need education to secure the role we play in the future of our industry.
We have provided a tremendous amount of water to nourish design education over the years. Over a quarter of a million dollars has been awarded in Grants and Scholarships since our inception. Just under $100,000 has been added to this number since the 2019 AIFD Symposium.
We have all heard the word unprecedented on numerous occasions during the last two and a half years. In this case it is a word of celebration in that we celebrated during AIFD Symposium with the unprecedented endowment of seven funds.
South West Chapter Endowed Fund
The region of our great nation, that gave birth to the American Institute of Floral Designers, “Rocked That Tree" to complete what was required to endow the South West Chapter Fund. This has been an effort initiated by former Chapter President Susie Ayala AIFD and completed, with the support of countless Chapter members, under the leadership of Chapter President Susan Bean AIFD. Congratulations to each member that donated to the accomplishment of funding the South West Chapter Endowed Fund.
Frankie Shelton AIFD Endowed Fund
As shared during the AIFD Symposium in Las Vegas, there are numerous clues that might lead you a long awaited honor. 98 Years celebrated! Loves to dance! Lives in Texas! Hosted the first Symposium outside of California. Has long inspired many. With the help of the South Central Chapter Board and Members under the leadership of former Chapter President Nicola Parker AIFD and a contribution from Allied Florists of Houston, led by President Alan Masters AIFD, the AIFD Foundation Board of Trustees announced the endowment of the Frankie Shelton AIFD Endowed Fund.
The First Corporate Endowed Fund
During the two years that Jackie Lacey AIFD served as President of the Board of this Institute we discussed the need of a program to provide Symposium Scholarships without the rule of being a first time attendee. Floriology Institute has provided education to the floral designer for quite some time and thus it seemed only appropriate that this purpose be put into place when the Floriology Fund powered by BloomNet was endowed. In 2020, additional support was offered for immediate gratification and six scholarships were awarded. We endowed our first Corporate Fund during the AIFD Symposium in Las Vegas so that this purpose may be awarded in perpetuity. A special thank you to Jackie Lacey AIFD for bringing this forward and for your support of this most important effort.
Matt Wood AIFD Endowed Fund
A designer who changed an industry, leading it forward from silk florals to permanent botanicals, always knew how to Just Make It Pretty. He inspired. He never put himself first but instead reached out to help others know just how to twist the stem just right, face the flower to the light of day, make the absolute salad with whatever was available because he would have that extra time to visit rather than step out to fine dining. He understood color and embraced texture. His love of family carried him home just before his time with us neared. A very special thank you to Charlie Groppetti AIFD and Todd Smith for the dedicated work to endow this fund. We know that Matt would have loved the Just Make It Pretty Design Contest while at the same time thinking we were making quite the fuss. He would have especially loved the gatherings at your home when teaching close to 50 women to make a garland had his signature all over it! Tonight, we bring forward the Matt Wood AIFD Endowed Fund. Knowing that this will add opportunities to mentor will make an incredible difference in our program of work.
Herman Meinders Endowed Fund
Herman Meinders established a fund with the largest single contribution ever received by the AIFD Foundation. The purpose will open new opportunities to educate. While design education is our centered focus, we all know the importance of the business of flowers. This effort will add to a Lifetime of Learning ensuring not only increased possibilities, through state, regional and national institutions, to increase knowledge in design but also a sense of business. Additionally, the purpose opens a new door to the AIFD Foundation and one that is most important to ensure the success of the industry. Through this endowment there will be opportunity to research the interest and the need of high school floral design education. Herman Meinders is a Visionary. I have had the pleasure to see this time and time again and thus we are so grateful of his support of the AIFD Foundation through this endowment.
Marie Ackerman AIFD Endowed Fund
She was in her early 20’s when her well lit path guided her from a small town in Pennsylvania to that of Oklahoma City to join a company named American Floral Services. It has been said that she grew up with AFS. Though this was quite the step to take, it was only the first of many steps well travelled. She had a way about her to wake up a room with an expressive “How in the Heck are Ya!” She had a way of taking time to really know you, what meant the most to you and what you hoped to accomplish. She had an innate ability to connect. A former President of the South Central Chapter, it is easy to see why the Chapter contributed not only what was needed to establish the fund but also significantly towards the endowment. A special thank you to South Central Chapter Immediate Past President Rhonda Moeckel AIFD for your leadership. May the endowment of this fund add to a Lifetime of Learning, in perpetuity, offering education through mentorships and established programs in state, regional and national institutions for those that may need a little help to go out into the world and SHINE.
Phil Rulloda AIFD Endowed Scholarship Fund
Perhaps Rocky Pollitz AIFD said it best “An award winner surpassing all others, he is revered as a true genius of the human spirit. He can turn a palm frond into a treasured sculpture. In turn, he can mold a student into a dedicated designer. His design style, philosophy of life and compassion for his art make him the finest creative wonder of our time.” AIFD Symposium week in Las Vegas was quite the week for Phil Rulloda AIFD with an incredible anthurium named in his honor and one in an exquisite red named after his loving wife, Cathy. On AIFD Awards Night, he was surrounded by those who love him most and an industry that looks to him with the greatest respect when the AIFD Foundation Board of Trustees endowed the Phil Rulloda AIFD Endowed Scholarship Fund. A heartfelt thank you to Ken Senter AIFD who led this fund to endowment. He has certainly given back to those who were his teachers. He established and led the Jim Johnson AIFD Fund to endowment and then requested to be involved in this endeavor. Ken Senter’s leadership continues to make a difference in not only AIFD but also in the AIFD Foundation.
What does it mean to endow seven funds? In this foundation, a first. In any foundation an opportunity for an increase in Grants and Scholarships. We recognized the Scholarship Recipients during the AIFD Symposium in Las Vegas. Earlier in the week we gathered in the President’s Suite for time to get to know one another and celebrate their achievements! It is our hope that each made the most of the AIFD Symposium experience. Some will additionally learn, in the near future, through a CFD Scholarship and S.H.I.N.E. Scholarships. Each will elevate their skills and open new possibilities.
The Board of Trustees joins me in thanking each of you for your continued support.
We hope that you will make it official and become a Friend of the AIFD Foundation. A new program, launched at this Symposium, centers around either annual or monthly giving, and will lead the way to ensuring the needed support to continue to produce this level of work.