David L. Rocha, long-time senior vice president of Jewelers of America (JA), has been named the new executive director of Jewelers for Children (JFC), the U.S. jewelry industry’s own national charity, effective Oct. 22. Rocha, who has resigned from JA, replaces Laurie Hudson, former president of Platinum Guild International USA, who resigned a few days earlier.
Hudson was named JFC executive director on July 7, to succeed Pattie Light, JFC’s first and longtime executive director, effective Sept. 1. No formal reason was given for her resignation from the post. However, JFC Chairman Terry Burman, CEO of Akron, Ohio-based Sterling Jewelers Inc., told JCK that Hudson and JFC’s officials “mutually agreed it wasn’t a good fit.” She will continue to serve for a limited time as a consultant to JFC during the transition.
The sudden change in executive directors—which was already rumored among guests at the 24th Karat Club of Southern California dinner on Oct. 16—“won’t hinder anything JFC is doing, including the holiday programs now being executed,” Burman told JCK.
JFC will temporarily operate out of JA’s New York City headquarters and share administrative and marketing resources with JA. There was no word at press time on when replacements for Rocha’s posts at JA and JIC will be selected.
Burman praised the selection of Rocha, who also had been considered for the position when Light resigned. “In light of his vast industry experience and proven leadership skills, our board has eagerly appointed David Rocha as JFC’s new executive director,” said Burman. “We’re confident David will sustain JFC’s immense level of success, and we look forward to working with him as we continue our important mission of helping children in need.”
Rocha has been JA’s senior vice president since 1996, during which time he has managed its daily operations including membership, marketing, and education. He also has served as executive director of the Jewelry Information Center, overseeing membership development, communications, and the annual Gem Awards gala. He previously was senior vice president of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America.
Rocha also is a member of the board of directors of the Diamond Council of America. All told, he has more than 18 years of experience in the jewelry industry.
Since 1999, JFC has donated almost $14 million to specific programs benefiting children whose lives have been devastated either by catastrophic illness or abuse and neglect. JFC’s charity partners include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Make-A-Wish International, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation/Glaser Pediatric Research Network, and the National CASA Association. At JFC’s June 6 “Facets of Hope” gala fundraiser during The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, the group presented almost $4 million to the JFC charities.