JA Affiliate Leaders Meet in Washington, D.C.

Jewelers of America (JA) held its Annual Affiliate Leadership Conference in February in Alexandria, Va., and Washington, D.C. The event allowed leaders from JA’s 42 state and regional affiliates to meet with each other as well as with JA staff members—and, this year, with their congressional representatives for a lobbying session during “A Day on the Hill.”

At the conference, JA affiliate leaders and staffers planned the year’s events and discussed ways to better utilize JA’s programs and services at the local level. JA president and CEO Matthew A. Runci opened the conference along with chairman Ed Bridge of Ben Bridge Jeweler in Seattle. Representatives of JA’s four departments—education, certification, marketing, and member services—also addressed the attendees during the conference. Speakers included David Peters, director of education; Mark Mann, director of trade programs; Fred Michmershuizen, director of marketing and communications; and Rossana Aguilar, director of membership and affiliate relations.

Also making presentations to the group were Pattie Light, executive director of the Jewelers Charity Fund for Children; Jacques Voorhees and Denise Heddlesten, of BrandMatrix, who provided attendees with an update on Jnet, the Web venture launched in 2000 by JA and the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA); Elizabeth Florence, director of the Jewelry Information Center (JIC); and Deputy Assistant Secretary Anna Borg, of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in the U.S. State Department. Borg addressed a range of commerce-related issues, including conflict diamonds.