WITHIT (Women in the Home Industries Today) Board has invited the following four advisors to sit on their Board of Governors: Dr. J. Mark Estepp, Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Appalachian State University; Joan Ulrich, Vice President of Leasing/Marketing – Gift Show, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.; Cary Benson, President and Chief Marketing Officer, American Leather and Caroline H. S. Hipple, President, Storehouse Furniture.
These individuals replace outgoing Board of Governors members Bob Maricich of Century Furniture Industries, Michael Bailenson of Bailenson Communications and Bill Kimbrell of Star Furniture.
"WithIt is fortunate to have such accomplished individuals joining its Board of Governors," commented WithIt Chair Jackie Hirschhaut, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. “Each of these newly elected governors will serve WithIt’s mission admirably, while providing fresh perspectives and ideas as the association moves forward. We also appreciate the dedication of our outgoing members to shepherd our significant growth in the past few years."
Mark Estepp represents an integral part of WithIt’s focus: students and the future of the industry. Estepp graduated from the University of Missouri in 1981 with a Ph.D. in Vocational Technical Education. He has held several administrative positions in higher education, including serving as the inaugural Chair of Industrial Technology at Livingston University, Ala., from 1981-1984, and chair of the Technology Department at Appalachian State University from 1991-2001. Prior to his appointment as Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts, he taught furniture design and construction at Appalachian.
Joan Ulrich, Vice President of Leasing and Marketing for the gift industry at Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc., possesses unique insight into the decorative accessories category plus trade show management.
Ulrich leads a team of sales and marketing professionals responsible for leasing permanent showrooms and temporary exhibition space, and developing comprehensive marketing plans. She has also been involved in many of the business activities at MMPI including the acquisition of MMPI's High Point buildings and the L.A. Mart as well as Beckman's Handcrafted Gift Show Chicago and the Chicago Gift Show.
Cary Benson is the President and Chief Marketing Officer of Dallas-based American Leather, specialists in the design and production of high-quality, made-to-order leather upholstery. Lauded for his diverse furniture industry expertise, Benson graduated from Michigan State University and started his professional career at institutional furnishings manufacturer Steelcase, Inc. He was named President of Elmo Leather of America prior to joining American Leather as a partner in 1997.
Caroline Hipple is a veteran WithIt member, involved in the start-up of the organization and a former member of the Board of Directors. Hipple, President and Chief Operating Officer of Atlanta-based Storehouse,received WithIt’s Education Award in 2004. Buoyed by her commitment to make good design accessible to consumers in 15 states through the company’s 62 stores, Storehouse has grown to include about 700 employees, a direct mail catalog and a transactional web site. Her home furnishings acumen was honed in her 23-year career at specialty retailer This End Up. At Storehouse, Hipple has been lauded for her dedication to making the operation a “leadership incubator” through the establishment of a bona-fide training department and on-going educational programs, including an interior design certification program.
WithIt, founded in 1997, encourages and develops leadership, mentoring, education and career opportunities for women in the home furnishings industry.
For more information, or to join, please visit www.withit,org
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