Gift for Life Adds Five to Board of Directors

May 1, 2018 — Gift for Life, the gift, stationery and home decor industries’ sole national charitable organization, announced today that Julie and Matt McCallum, Esther Ossei-Anto, Teddy Pekalski and Lenise Willis — have joined its board of directors.

“These new board members bring a wealth of industry talent to our ranks,” said George Kacic, chair of the Gift for Life Board. “We are delighted to welcome these newcomers and to involve each of them in our fundraising to fight HIV/AIDS.”

Julie and Matt McCallum are owners of Great American Media Services (, based in Grand Rapids, MI. The company has 14 brands that include magazines, digital products and events in the specialty retail, specialty agriculture, sports and horticulture markets. Brands familiar to the gift industry include Gift Shop, Stationery Trends, Museums & More, Party & Halloween Retailer and Lawn & Garden Retailer. Julie is editorial director of four of those titles: Gift Shop, Stationery Trends, Museums & More and Party & Halloween Retailer. Matt serves as CEO. Said Julie and Matt, “We support Gift for Life not only for the good works it does to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and education, but also for very personal reasons, too. Our late son, Julian, and the members of his LGBTQ youth group, were faced with the stark reality of stereotyping and bullying around the AIDS issue and we feel like so much more can be done to erase the stigma and increase awareness and education in all populations.”

Esther Ossei-Anto is senior marketing manager of International Market Centers, Las Vegas Market, where she spearheads the marketing direction for the Gift brand. Prior to joining International Market Centers in 2010, Esther’s industry experience included serving as divisional manager for GLM’s West Coast shows, which included the California Gift Show, San Francisco, International Gift Fair, Portland Gift Show and Seattle Gift Show. Esther is a graduate of Canisius College and holds an MBA from American University. In 2017, she was named one of the industry’s “40 Under 40” honorees. “When I joined the gift industry more than 10 years ago, my first industry event was for Gift for Life. There were people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds and from competitive companies, gathered together to raise money for a great cause. I knew I was home then, and I’m proud to be a member of the board now.”

Teddy Pekalski, sales manager at Whereoware, helps clients in the gift and home industry maximize their digital presence. Teddy joined Whereoware in 2014 following his graduation from Christopher Newport University, where he gained a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing. Teddy commented, “I’m honored to join such a hard-working group of individuals dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Gift for Life!”

Lenise Willis is editor-in-chief of Gifts and Decorative Accessories magazine. Lenise is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has experience in both news reporting and content marketing, both in print and digital realms. Lenise said, “I’m so excited to be on the Gift for Life board, not just because I know we’ll be working together for many great causes, but also because it’s just a wonderful board of great personalities. The gift industry is such a warm and welcoming industry, and I’m thrilled to take part in it anyway I can, including being on the GFL board.”

These newcomers to the Gift for Life board of directors replace retiring members Dorothy Belshaw of International Market Centers, Eric Dean of Whereoware, Jenny Hammons of Jenny Hammons Company, Janetta Litzman of Brandwise, Stu Teller of Michel Design Works and Warren Shoulberg of Progressive Business Media.



Gift for Life unites the gift and home industries against AIDS with more than $5 million raised since its inception in 1992. In 2008, Gift for Life selected DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the U.S., as its sole charity partner. Since its founding in 1984, DIFFA has mobilized the immense resources of the design communities to provide more than $43 million to hundreds of AIDS organizations nationwide. More information is available at and at