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IFDA Educational Foundation Names New Board of Trustees

New Bern, N.C. — The Educational Foundation of the International Furnishings and Design Association announces its 2019 Board of Trustees, selected to oversee and administer $27,000 in annual design-related scholarships and grants.

Merry Mabbett Dean, FIFDA (of the former Texas Chapter) will be Chairman after serving as Vice Chair/Treasurer and Chairman Elect in 2018 and a career in interior furnishings spanning some 35 years. After two decades of managing a showroom before opening her own, Statements, Inc., in Salt Lake City, Utah, she formed a consulting firm—to assist owners and managers of new design start-ups—and also began teaching part-time at the Art Institute of Portland, Oregon. In 2008, she and her husband, John Dean, established the office-furniture dealership Absolute Office of Oregon. Her IFDA membership began in 1986. After serving as International President in 1994, Merry was named to the EF board in 2010 as Director of Scholarships and Grants, then returned to the board this year.

Gail Belz, FIFDA (of the Northern California Chapter) becomes the Foundation’s 2019 Vice Chair/Treasurer and Chairman-Elect after serving multiple roles on the governing board of her home chapter and being elected IFDA’s International President in 2009. As the longtime manager of the Lenoir Associates wholesale showroom, which at times housed as many as 10 manufacturers, she was able to move that facility to the San Francisco Furniture Mart, where it remained until the showroom closed.  She has been an active IFDA member for 30 years.

Sarah Fletcher (of the New York Chapter) joins the Educational Foundation Board as Director of Communications, a role she continues to fill on the New York Chapter Board.  As president of Sarah P. Fletcher Communications, a public relations/marketing communications agency, she brings more than 20 years’ experience in building and guiding brands, principally in the design and furnishings arena. She has been an IFDA member for 24 years.

Donna Ralston-Latham, FIFDA (Washington, D.C., Chapter) joins the EF Board as Director of Resources. Active on the board of her home chapter for more than a decade, she, too, has served previously on the Educational Foundation Board. Well established in the design field, she is also affiliated with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and is a company member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). She holds a National Council of Interior Design Qualification Certificate in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Returning to the foundation board in 2019 will be Caroline Baer Rogow (Florida Chapter) as Past Chair/Advisor; Karen Dzendolet (New England Chapter) as Director of Scholarships and Grants; Shirley Ebert (Carolinas Chapter), Financial Manager; Earline Feldman (also Carolinas Chapter), Website Manager.

For details and news about next year’s EF DesignEDGE event in High Point, NC, plus all 2019 scholarship and grant-application deadlines, see or

For further information, contact:

Mervyn Kaufman, Director of Publications

IFDA Educational Foundation

305 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024; 212-724-2457

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