Gift for Life Adds Four to Board of Directors

Gift for Life has announced that industry veterans Doug Self, Russ Jones, Deb Swisher, and Chad Howard have joined its board of directors.

“These new board members are true industry leaders with a wealth of talent,” said George Kacic, chair of the Gift for Life Board. “We are honored to welcome them and to put them to work at industry events across the U.S., spreading the word and raising funds in support of Gift for Life’s critical mission.”

Doug Self is Founder and President of JDouglas (, a to-the-trade multi-brand sales agency he launched in 2001 with a showroom and corporate offices at AmericasMart as well as an additional showroom in High Point, N.C.  JDouglas services 13 states in the Southeast exclusively with some of the finest brands in the home industry.  He currently serves on the AmericasMart Advisory Board and is a member of Accessories Resource Team (ART).  In 2016, he was awarded the GHTA/Gift for Life Honor of Excellence at ICON Honors.  As well, he is the founder and owner of Provision Oxford (, a retail lifestyle boutique in Oxford, MS. Said Doug, “I am looking forward to working with everyone on the Gift for Life board.  We can accomplish a lot, and I am hopeful of contributing to advancing this organization.”

Russ Jones is Luxe Home & Hospitality Representative for Ivystone. Russ had a successful career in showbiz as a singer/dancer on Broadway before he opened and ran a gift store called Flights of Fancy for 10 years on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Russ has worked with Ivystone for the last 12 years as a home & hospitality sales representative, working with key accounts and retail stores along with hundreds of New York City Design and Architectural firms. Russ commented: “I am excited and honored to join the board.  I’m really looking forward to see what I can add and bring to this great organization.”

Deb Swisher serves Creative Co-op as National Sales Manager of the Bloomingville brand, one of the top decorative accessory brands in the European market now expanding into the U.S. market. Her career in the gift and home industry began over three decades ago at an independently owned Hallmark Store in Lincoln, Nebraska, first as an assistant manager and then as store manager role and assistant buyer. In 2001, Deb began in wholesale as a sales representative with CBK, and in 2003 was promoted to National Sales Trainer followed by Regional Vice President. Following CBK’s merger with Midwest and Colonial Candle in 2009, she jumped back into the field as a Senior Sales Executive. In 2012, she became director of sales at Langley Empire Candle pioneering the Boulevard Brand and starting the Hallmark Exclusive brand Crafter’s and CO. Deb says that she is “happy and honored to be part of this fantastic organization!  Looking forward to meeting everyone I have not had the pleasure to cross paths with yet.”

Chad Howard is vice president of strategic partnerships for Sanger & Eby, a strategic design and development agency that works with a range of companies including retailers such as Barneys, Bloomingdales and Macys. Previously he served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Up With Paper/UWP LUXE. Prior to Up With Paper, Chad led business development for POSSIBLE Worldwide, one of the world’s largest digital agencies working with corporations like P&G, Coca-Cola, BMW & GE. Prior to POSSIBLE, Chad spent 7 years leading business development and public relations for luxury online and catalog retailer FRONTGATE where he built partnerships with brands like Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Lexus, Net Jets, FIJI Water & Hearst Publications. Chad comments: “It’s truly an honor to be included among such a dynamic board of talented and passionate leaders in our industry. I’m very excited to roll my sleeves up and start work hard to raise awareness around our cause!”

 GFL Board