Winners to be lauded at Awards for Excellence Fundraising Gala
(NEW YORK) - In advance of its Awards for Excellence Gala on July 29, which will raise funds for scholarships and grants, the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) announced that proceeds from 2019 fundraising resulted in awards totaling $65,500 in grants and scholarships to 49 women. The recipients are using the funds to underwrite education and advance their professional careers.
“Our grant and scholarship winners are an impressive group,” says WJA Executive Director Bernadette Mack. “Helping women enter and sustain careers in the jewelry business is one of the most important goals of the Women’s Jewelry Association.”
The named scholarship and grant recipients are:
Carelle-WJA Grant Winner ($5,000)
Winners: Anne Holman and Jen Townsend, The Smithery
Anne Holman and Jen Townsend are jewelry artists who each earned a BFA from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Each has been building her own jewelry business, exhibiting work and teaching jewelry and enameling workshops in art centers and undergraduate metalsmithing classes. Together, they built The Smithery, an artist-made shop and metalsmith studio focusing on contemporary jewelry and modern craft located in Columbus, Ohio. The Smithery features lines of jewelry designed and created in house by the two artists, and also represents over 70 American and International artists. In addition, The Smithery includes an exhibition gallery and classroom area offering jewelry and enameling workshops. Holman and Townsend plan to use their grant to establish a separate studio space and acquire additional tools for expanded class offerings.
Female Veteran Scholarship, sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group ($5,000)
Winner: Nora Micheli Hernandez
Nora Micheli Hernandez is currently a student at Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. She will be graduating later this year with certificates in jewelry repair, computer-aided design, and jewelry technology. She is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army, as well as a wife and mother to two boys. She plans on doing custom jewelry and working with other disabled veterans. Hernandez plans to use the grant money to buy the equipment and supplies needed to set up her studio.
The Cindy Edelstein Jewelry Design Scholarship ($5,000)
Winner: Coco de Salazar
Coco de Salazar is a jewelry designer and teaching artist in Miami, Florida. She has been metalsmithing for nine years and currently teaches fabrication and soldering classes at Jewelry Creations Workshop school in North Miami. Her jewelry line, “de Salazar Jewelry,” is designed and fabricated in her private Miami studio. In the daytime, de Salazar is a graphic designer and fine arts photographer, focusing on branding, marketing, and design needs for clients. She holds the president-elect board position for the WJA Miami Chapter. She plans to use her scholarship funds to pursue the Comprehensive CAD/CAM for Jewelry certificate through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
The Gabriel Love Foundation Scholarship ($5,000)
Winner: Xabrina Michel’li Thompson
Xabrina Michel’li Thompson is a 22-year-old graduate of one of South Africa’s leading girl’s schools, Epworth High School. She is pursuing a graduate gemologist diploma from GIA, for which she will use her scholarship funds. She is a student member of the Women’s Jewelry Association. Thompson works in the jewelry industry and as part of her duties and responsibilities she has traveled widely, particularly in Asia and the Far East, marketing and sourcing jewelry products. In this process she identified a business opportunity, which she researched and introduced to her employer. As a result, a subsidiary company was formed, in which Thompson was given a share holding. She’ll use her newfound gemological knowledge to develop a freshwater pearl, colored stone, and sterling silver jewelry brand. She also wants to establish a WJA Chapter in her home country in South Africa to help others achieve their dreams.
The June Herman Designer/Creator Scholarship ($5,000)
Winner: Qianwen Lu
Qianwen Lu is a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she is studying towards her degree in jewelry design. She plans to continue studying jewelry in a post-graduate course.
The Peggy Kirby Designer Scholarship ($5,000)
Winner: Hsinyu Chu
Hsinyu Chu was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her bachelor of fine arts in fashion design and master of fine arts in jewelry metal art at Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She also studied at The Revere Academy in San Francisco. Chu received a jewelry design & technology diploma and a graduate jeweler diploma from GIA and is a student in its graduate pearls program. In 2017, she launched her jewelry workshop, JC Art & Design, in San Francisco’s Mission District before moving it to Milpitas, California. Chu would also like to become an appraiser and wishes to take an appraisal course.
Other Student Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded in three different categories: Designer/Creator (based on images of finished pieces that are designed and created by the student): Lauren Delbracco $3,000, Xun Liu $2,500, Zoe Larson $1,500, Melissa Cousins $1,000. Designer (based on designs by the student, includes CAD and drawings): Mengjie Zhang $2,000, Xinchen LI $1,000. Non-Designer (essay-based for applicants studying to be gemologists, appraisers, watchmakers, bench jewelers, or retailers): Bonnie Cornell $3,000; Jennifer Pollard $2,500; Katie Soule $1,500; Laura Marsolek $1,000.
Previously, WJA announced that it had awarded 32 member grants of $500 each to recipients around the country, for a total of $16,500 in awards. The grants are awarded to female, professional-level, WJA members in good standing, to be used toward professional growth. Grant winners are listed by the WJA Chapter that submitted their names:
Austin: Jen Leddy-Barnes; Boston: Wendy Jo New; Chicago: Sue Rosengard, Anne Van der Meulen, Olivia Zale; Colorado: Alexandra Fitzgerald; Dallas: Kelly Grise, Patricia Schrag; Houston: Maggie Segrich; Los Angeles: Harvinder Keila; Miami: Tiffany Joachim; Northern California: Sara Beck, Christy Comstock, Brittany Stadtmiller; NY Metro: Kristine Cabanban, AnnaLisa Cervi, Christine Malle, Stephanie Maslow Blackman, Annmarie Sclafani Stewart; Ohio/Kentucky: Christina Miller, Leslie Wright; Philadelphia: Christine Alaniz; Providence: Jennifer Skiba; Raleigh: Martha D’Alessandro; San Diego: Laura Fischer, Niki Grandics, Kathleen Lynagh House; Seattle: Nancy Castillo, Jessica Herner; Twin Cities: Jennifer Bellefleur, Dawn Bruggeman; Charlotte Preston “Get’s it Done” Grant: Betsy Sanders.
WJA grants and scholarships are administered by the WJA Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation. Funds for these programs are generously provided by corporate partners, local WJA chapters, the annual Awards for Excellence Gala, and by individual donations. Donations are tax deductible. The foundation’s board of trustees is chaired by Brenda Gamba, Jewelers Board of Trade. Member grants are administered by board member Sue Elliott of GIA, and scholarships are managed by Lisa Slovis Mandel, Lisa Slovis Metalsmithing, immediate past president of the foundation. Various committees choose the winners of a number of the named scholarships. Member grant winners are chosen via a random drawing.
WJA raises funds for its member grants and scholarships via its annual Awards for Excellence Gala, which brings together industry leaders for a social evening in support of women in the industry. This year’s gala is on Monday, July 29, 2019, at Pier 60 in New York. It will once again feature a silent auction and raffle for that purpose.
The gala will also honor Visionaries in the jewelry industry - individuals making a difference in the cause of women’s equality. This year, the two individual WJA Visionary Awards will be bestowed on Carol Pennelli, president, David Yurman; and Stellene Volandes, editor in chief, Town & Country magazine.
In addition, Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer, Richline Group, will be presented with the Cindy Edelstein Mentorship Award. Hanna is the fourth recipient of the award, which was established in 2016 after the passing of Cindy Edelstein, a longtime WJA member who dedicated her life’s work to the development, encouragement, and enrichment of the lives of women in the jewelry industry.
Tickets to the awards gala are available at www.womensjewelryassociation.com.
About the Women’s Jewelry Association
WJA’s mission is to help women in the jewelry and watch industries advance and develop professionally through networking, education, leadership development, and the provision of member services. For more information, visit www.womensjewelryassociation.com.