The History of The AIFD Foundation

Portions reprinted from AIFD History 1965-1991 by Robert Gordon, AIFD

The Board of Directors of the Southern Chapter of AIFD met in Dallas, TX on January 4, 1979 and established the AIFD Memorial Scholarship Foundation in memory of Allen Shackelford. He was one of the energetic crusaders in AIFD and a principal founder and the first president of the Southern Chapter.

To fund the foundation, The Southern Chapter appropriated $500.00 and the National Board gave $1,000.00. The purpose of the Shackelford AIFD Foundation would be to provide scholarships to deserving college and/or university students that were pursuing a career in floriculture with a primary emphasis on floral design.

The forming Board of Trustees were Carol Mitchell, President of the Southern Region, Herb Mitchell, President of National AIFD, Michael Polychrones, Sandy White, and Don Stothart. Don was elected chairman of the Trustees and served in that capacity until 1995.

The original goal of the Foundation was set at $30,000.00 and no other scholarship could be established until this goal was reached. At the time this generated about $3,000.00 per year in interest, which was awarded in scholarships for the 1981-1982 academic years.

In 1985 the National Board of Directors authorized the formation of a separate entity to be incorporated as The AIFD Foundation, Inc. The Foundation Trustees would now have sole responsibility for its management, planning, and supervision. Non-profit corporation papers were filed with the state of Louisiana on October 23, 1985. The original trustees and officers were Jack Smith, Wilton Hardy, Jennie Irey, Teresa Riddle, Eulalah Overmeyer, Allen Beck, Sandy White, Michael Polychrones, Treasurer; Frankie Shelton, Secretary; Tom Powell, Vice Chairman Operations; and Don Stothart, Chairman; along with the current serving President of National AIFD.

Requests were made to start other funds so the Foundation established a policy to honor individuals with funds in their names while still under the umbrella of the corporation. A minimum donation of $5,000.00 was required, and in October 1985, American Floral Service donated $10,000.00 to establish the Eulalah Overmeyer Fund. In 1988 Teleflora honored Rocky Pollitz with a donation to the Foundation in the sum of $10,000.00, which established a fund in her name.

Later two additional funds were established, one in 1994 to honor Jim Treadaway, and another in 1997 to honor Don Stothart for his role in establishing and chairing the Foundation. The Treadaway Scholarship was specifically set up to make monies available to floral designers who needed assistance to attend their first national symposium.

In the early years the ‘Deacons’ were the primary source of raising funds. This started when an overzealous member came to a symposium program with a silver plate they had just received. They were showing off their plate during a design program on flowers for church and religious events. When the plate came back to the owner it had $30.00 in small bills and change. The audience thought the plate had been passed for a collection. The money was donated to the Allen Shackelford Fund and the ‘Deacons’ became a regular event for several years. In 1988 and 1989 the ‘Deacons’ made additional appearances, and at the 1989 Chicago symposium the collection totaled $11,000.00.

flower4In 1994 the Foundation hired its first executive director. Susan Tomlinson took over what had previously been a volunteer run organization. Susan retired as the executive director in 2004.
In 1997 Ralph Null became chairman and led the successful ‘$500,000.00 by 2000’ campaign, and the restructuring of the Foundation in 2002 during a two day trustee meeting in San Diego, CA. At this meeting the number of trustees was increased from twelve to twenty, and term limits were set for officers and trustees. Frank Smith, PhD of Atlanta, GA, facilitated this meeting.
In 2004 Allen Beck became the third chairman of the Foundation and the trustees needed a new executive director. A search committee including Chris Norwood, Lynn Lary McLean, Rich Salvaggio, and Connie Bell-Gustafson, began an exhaustive search and on May 1, 2005 Diversified Management Service of Des Moines, IA was contracted to take over the management of the foundation. Lona Christoffers, CAE of the Mesa, AZ office was appointed to be the hands-on administrator.
A new goal called 'March to a Million' was begun in 2005. The goal of one million dollars in principal holdings was reached in 2008 largely due to a windfall of new named funds, donations, and a merger. The James Moretz Fund was established in the fall of 2007 with a gift from Jim Moretz AIFD. Early in 2008 several of the Regional Chapters joined the foundation after Chairman Allen Beck proposed that the Chapters and the Foundation join forces in their fundraising activities. The Southern Chapter contributed enough to begin a named fund, 'The Southern Chapter Fund', and the North Central and North East Chapters have also invested their scholarship funds through the foundation.

flower3In the spring of 2008 the final transfer of funds was made from the Florida Florist Fund to the AIFD Foundation. This merger became the largest gift ever given to the foundation, and the 'Florida Florist Fund' under the AIFD Foundation umbrella will continue to promote education and assistance throughout Florida and the region.
Chris Norwood AIFD served the Foundation as CEO and continued with his ever popular “Hosted Cocktail Party”, a Foundation Auction favorite, co- hosted with Trustee Kelly Marble AIFD. Chris was also instrumental in helping the North Central Region to create their named fund, which continues to motivate and inspire attendee from that region to apply for the scholarships offered thru this fund.
Derrick Vasquez serves as the current CEO and is in his final year of service to the Foundation. Derrick continued the tradition of working to get our bylaws and policies and procedures updated, organized and published. He and Lona Christoffers CAE, developed our current “Volunteer Manual” which helps Trustees and Committee members with the guidelines of the Foundation. In honor of our 50th Anniversary of AIFD, the Foundation is sponsoring a new campaign, “The 50th Club” for individuals to gift $50 or $500 to the Foundation in honor of or in memory of a mentor who has helped form your floral career. We invite you to be a part of this Club, as the monies that are contributed go towards helping secure additional help for AIFD Regional Chapters.

The total of all the funds as of December 31, 2014 was approximately $1,347,000.00. In total, scholarships and grants in an amount well over $400,000.00 have been awarded during the past thirty-three years. In 2015 a record number of applications were received, mainly because of an increased marketing effort, spearheaded by Lynn Lary McLean AIFD. Grant requests received numbered three; Symposium scholarship applications numbered twenty-four and came from as far away as Viet Nam; and student applications numbered twelve.

As we look toward the future the Foundation continues to look for other avenues to expand and develop scholarships and grants and with assisting others. We thank you for your continued support of the Foundation.