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IFDA Educational Foundation Announces 2017 Grants

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Pictured left to right: Anita Williams, J. Alex Poorman, Karen Dzendolet, Tilanka Chandrasekera, and Connie Huddleston.

An interior designer, a preservation specialist, two design educators and one student designer have been awarded grants from the Educational Foundation of the International Furnishings and Design Association, currently celebrating its 70th anniversary. Says EF Director of Scholarships & Grants Linda Mariani. "This year's applicants were all highly qualified professionals with worthy projects, making the scores very close." The 2017 grant winners are:

  • Karen Dzendolet, an interior designer in Western Massachusetts, has won the $3,000 Valerie Moran Memorial Grant, enabling her to visit and study major historic homes in the Northeast. This grant, supported by IFDA's New York Chapter, is given annually to a design professional and IFDA member seeking enriched experience through educational programs, focused travel or trade-show visits. Dzendolet says this grant will enable her to "maintain my creative inspiration, which comes from understanding the past and experiencing great design and art first-hand.”

  • Connie Huddleston, a preservation specialist in Orchard, KY, has received the $2,000 Ina Mae Kaplan Historic Preservation Grant, supported by IFDA's Washington, D.C., chapter and available to design professionals engaged in historic preservation or restoration of a significant structure or public building. A longtime volunteer supporter of the Hembree Farm Historic Preservation Site in Roswell, GA, Huddleston says the grant will fund ongoing work on this early 19th-century home's interior kitchen.

  • J. Alex Poorman, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Design at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, has received the $2,000 Irma Dobkin Universal Design Grant, supported by IFDA's Washington, D.C., chapter. The grant was established for furnishings or design pros planning to develop a Universal Design project that meets the living needs of people of all ages and capabilities. Poorman says the grant will be applied to funding "workshops on campus that inform, expose and educate a new generation of designers and design consumers about the continuing need to incorporate Universal Design into their projects.”

  • Tilanka Chandrasekera, an assistant professor in the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, was awarded the $1,000 Elizabeth Brown Grant, supported by IFDA's Texas Chapter. The grant's purpose: to help fund essential resources for an accredited interior design program at a university, college, art school or technical institution. As Prof. Chandrasekera explains, "We are requesting funds to purchase a motion-capture system that works in conjunction with virtual-reality systems," adding that "we will implement a new approach to simulate human behavior in a 3D environment for design evaluation.”

  • Anita Williams, a Richmond, VA, chapter member seeking to expand her design education, after a long career in other fields, has received the $1,500 Tony Torrice Professional Development Grant, supported by IFDA's Northern California chapter. In her application essay, Williams Wrote, "I am passionate about creating environments that will positively improve people's lives.”


More about the IFDA: The International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA), founded in New York City in 1947 and now with 14 chapters worldwide, provides a professional forum for communication and interaction among its high-profile members. The IFDA, a not-for-profit volunteer-run association, also promotes career advancement and educational opportunities and is structured to increase public awareness of the furnishings and design industry through specialized programming, networking and service to the community.

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