Pattie Light, executive director of the Jewelers For Children (JFC) foundation since its organization in 1999, has resigned so she can spend more time with her family. The JFC board of directors was expected to be officially informed at their June 5 meeting in Las Vegas during The JCK Show. However, many already knew she had submitted her resignation letter two months ago.
JFC (known until this year as the Jewelers Charity Fund for Children) is the jewelry industry’s own charity and supports a number of organizations that help youngsters, primarily those who are chronically ill. The organizations are the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the National CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) Association.
As executive director, Light—working closely with JFC’s officers and board of directors—has overseen the growth of JFC’s donations and fundraising operations. In 1999, JFC donated $900,000 to the children’s groups. This year, at its “Facets of Hope” gala dinner on June 6, it will donate $3.8 million. Since its start, the industry charity has contributed more than $14 million to the children’s charities it supports.
In addition to donations and contributions from individuals, businesses, groups, and organizations in the trade, much of that money has come from the growing number of innovative fundraising ideas added in recent years. They include holiday cards, in-store counter canisters, the “Heroes of Hope” membership program (which enabled employee giving campaigns and donations from persons outside the trade), and multiple special events.
Light’s decision to resign was “heart wrenching,” she told the JCK, and came only after “a period of many months” consideration. “I love this job and have done anything I can to help JFC grow [because] it’s all about the kids,” she said. Her efforts included 60-hour-plus weeks, long workdays, and frequent weekend travel on behalf of JFC.
“I lost the balance of life, and now I want to enjoy some time again with my husband [the widely respected retail jewelry entrepreneur Nat Light], family, and friends,” she said.
However, Patty Light—a jewelry industry veteran herself, who came into the trade when she was 16—isn’t retiring. “I’m open to a challenging opportunity,” she said—just not one that demands quite so much of her time and energy.
Light quietly gave her resignation to JFC chairman Terry Burman, chairman of Sterling Inc., in early April, in order to allow sufficient time to find a replacement and ensure, she said, “an orderly transition.” A candidate for executive director is expected to be chosen before the year is out. Light will remain in her post until then.