HIGH POINT, N.C., January 4, 2018 – Women in the Home and Furnishings Industry Today (WithIt), an organization dedicated to the development of professional women, announces the nominee finalists for their annual WOW awards. Each of the nominee finalists, as well as the recipients of the Legacy Award, will be honored at the WOW Awards gala, to be held January 28, 2018, in the Worldview Room at Las Vegas World Market Center. Tickets can be purchased at www.withit.org. Individual tickets are $150; a table of 10 is $1,500.
The annual awards recognize business leaders nominated by their peers who have contributed to the success of the home furnishings industries and have demonstrated significant impact on their companies and the industry. WithIt has presented the honors since 1999.
The Legacy Award, the highest award bestowed by WithIt, honors a woman whose entire career has made significant lifetime contributions to the home and furnishings industries. This year’s honoree, Karen McNeill, is CEO of the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame.
With more than 35 years of experience in the home furnishings industry, McNeill founded two full-service marketing and public relations agencies both of which are still in existence under new leadership. Her agencies worked with a multitude of clients providing brand development, marketing, strategic public relations, crisis communications, media relations, media training, and capital fundraising counsel to a range of organizations.
McNeill began her long association with the home furnishings industry in January 1982 when she was appointed director of marketing at the Southern Furniture Market Center, known today as the International Home Furnishings Market Center. She also served as director of The Design Center in the IHFC where she managed day-to-day sales operations, marketing, and management of the building.
Committed to community service, McNeill has served on nearly 30 nonprofit boards in three different cities. Her agency managed WithIt as a client, and McNeill later serving as its president and chairman. Other board leadership includes the Furniture Fellowship Prayer Breakfast, the Furniture Discovery Center, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Chamber of Commerce of High Point, Family Service of High Point, United Way of Greater High Point, the Rotary Club of High Point, the Atlanta Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the YMCA of South St. Louis, to name a few. In addition to honoring McNeill, WithIt will present WOW Awards in four additional categories: Education, Mentoring, Leadership, and Future Leader.
WithIt created the Leadership Award to recognize the contributions of a woman who has demonstrated successful leadership in her company, WithIt, and the home furnishings industry. Leadership Award nominees are Betty Lyn Eller, American Silk Mills, and Laurie Hoover, Vanguard Furniture.
The Future Leader Award honors a woman in the industry younger than forty who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and the potential to become an industry leader. The 2018 nominees for this award are Emily Severson, A.R.T. Furniture; Victoria Valentinas, Heritage Home Group; and Taylor Walters, Valdese Weavers.
The Mentoring Award honors a company or individual for their efforts to foster advocacy, development, and promotion of women in their company and the industry. This year’s Mentoring Award nominees are Karen Fallon, Heritage Home Group; Mary Frye, Home Furnishings Association; and Lori Gonzalez, Twin Star.
The Education Award recognizes an individual who has put forth significant effort to educate associates, retailers, and consumers about home furnishings. This year’s nominees are Andy Bernstein, FurnitureDealer.net; John Bray, Vanguard Furniture; and John Conrad, American Society of Furniture Designers.
Key sponsors of the evening are headed by Platinum sponsors International Market Centers and Twin Star. Event sponsors are Furnituredealer.net and Moso Graphics.
WithIt celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. It was formed in 1997 to support women in the home and furnishings industries, and to bring awareness to the need for more female influences in the industries. In recent years, WithIt has filled the need for education and leadership development as women rise in their careers. This nonprofit network is strongly supported by leading companies across the industries, including 2017-–8 platinum sponsors International Market Centers, MicroD, Myriad Software, and Heritage Home Group. WithIt’s purpose is to encourage and develop leadership, mentoring, education, and networking opportunities for professional women in the home and furnishings industries.