The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) has established its first Canadian chapter, with a board of directors and two co-presidents offering a depth of jewelry knowledge and passion for the industry that can benefit the chapter as it gets its start.
Alanna Campbell (pictured), owner of AC Appraisals in the Ottawa area, and Shelbey Dodds, a Toronto-based jeweler and partner in metal casting company Triocast, are the co-presidents of WJA Toronto, which was announced Feb. 7.
They will serve on the new chapter’s 2024 board with Sydney Abrams of Fair Trade Jewellery Co. (who will be communications co–vice president for WJA Toronto); Ghada Aljelo of Williams Distinctive Gems (membership co-VP); Anita Bhandari of Aarkish Diamonds (treasurer); Sanaz Doost of Sanaz Doost Fine Jewelry (communications co-VP); Ari Fudim of York International Gems Ltd. (programming VP); and Ashley McFarlane of Omi Woods (membership co-VP).
The impetus for WJA’s Canadian expansion was a September 2023 event organized by WJA and the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA). More than 75 people attended the meeting, held at the Arcadia Studio in Toronto, and many told WJA they would be interested in leading a potential chapter. After a series of interviews, Campbell and Dodds were named as co-presidents.
“I’m delighted to welcome our newest WJA Toronto chapter…[and] bring the WJA mission to the Canadian jewelry industry,” WJA president Susan Chandler said in a statement. “We are grateful for the Canadian Jewellers Association, who shared our vision and helped us last fall kick off our latest international initiative. I look forward to all that the Canadian chapter will accomplish in the next many years.”
Contacted by JCK, Chandler said that while there are no current plans to expand WJA into Europe, she’d like to see the association grow internationally.
Campbell has been a WJA member since 2021 and served on the board of the New York Metro chapter in 2022 and 2023, as that was the closest chapter to her at the time. She says she feels “overwhelmed” in the best sense by the positive response to the Toronto group’s creation.
“I was welcomed by New York Metro and was able to serve on the board for two fabulous years. As a WJA member, I have been afforded so many wonderful experiences and have seen firsthand how this association helps foster strong relationships throughout the industry,” says Campbell. who is also membership coordinator for CJA.
“I hoped that one day WJA would have a presence here in Canada so that members of the Canadian jewelry industry would also be able to benefit from WJA’s platform and initiatives. I am ecstatic to have the day arrive and to be able to support the chapter’s development by serving as co-president alongside Shelbey,” Campbell adds.
Dodds says that WJA Toronto will be focused this year on establishing a solid foundation. “Toronto, as a city, is recognized from coast to coast as a heartbeat of the nation, and it is no different in relation to the jewelry industry. The city, at its core, represents diversity. In choosing to first take root in Toronto, the WJA is calibrating itself for many years of success in embracing this strength,” she says.
“Community is a defining pillar of the WJA, and as we begin this new chapter, it is our hope that with the assistance of our very talented board of directors, we can emphasize the fact that there is strength in numbers and continue to cultivate a strong community of jewelers here in Canada,” says Dodds.
WJA‘s mission is to help women in the jewelry and watch industries advance and develop professionally through networking, education, and leadership training. The 40-year-old nonprofit has international members and a chapter in Mexico.
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