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Board & Staff
|Abi Sood, Co-Chair||
Abi Sood is Founder & CEO of Avasa Home. He was born and raised around the textile industry. His family's sourcing business has been operating out of India since the 1960s, sourcing products from all over south Asia and offering them to the world. After joining the family business for a short time in the 1990s, Abi decided to break off on his own and started manufacturing home textiles. After almost 20 years of experience, the idea for Avasa was born in 2014. With a keen eye for design, a deep knowledge of the handicrafts available in the region, and the technical understanding of the production process, Abi launched Avasa to offer his take on home linens to the global village.
|Michela O'Connor Abrams, Co-Chair||
Michela is the Founder of MOCA+, offering an innovative approach to design thinking and leadership for companies making good design the foundation of their business strategy. Michela is the former CEO of Dwell Media, building it from its start-up phase to an internationally recognized media brand. Prior to Dwell she led companies from startup to exit and turnaround to high growth, at companies like IDG, Softbank, McGrawHill, Ziff Davis, and Future Media. She serves on the board of Arcbazar and is an advisor to Turkel Design, Nebia, Aplat Inc., NextPlay, and NewStory. She is a sought-after speaker on leadership, design, and media and is always game to share her passion for good design and business innovation.
|Jennifer K. Harmon, Secretary||
A veteran in the interior textiles market with 30 years experience, Jennifer K. Harmon has a passion for textiles that can be traced back to her early career years in textile design and product development. As a seasoned, visionary business executive, she applies both creative & critical thinking skills and believes advancing both art and science is vital in the business environment.
Jennifer is recognized for her commitment to sustainability, and she values environmental stewardship, diversity, and equality. She admires the late Ray C. Anderson, the founder and chairman of Interface, Inc and voice in industrial sustainability, and attributes his influence to her continued pursuit to help organizations reach their business goals sustainably.
Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University College of Textiles, receiving a BS in Textile Technology with a Concentration in Design. After gaining leadership and industry experience she went on to complete her Master of Business Administration at Montreat College.
Jennifer is a known to be naturally curious with a sense of adventure. Outside of work, she enjoys sharing her love of travel with her great niece and nephews and hopes to inspire others with her optimism and appreciation of cultural diversity.
|Michael J. Hirschhorn, Treasurer||
Michael J. Hirschhorn is founder & CEO of mebl | Transforming Furniture. By expanding the market for beautiful new furniture reimagined from old wood, metal and plastic, mebl seeks to help accelerate the transition to an environmentally sustainable and circular economy. Previously, from 2008 - 14, Michael served as Executive Director of the International Human Rights Funders Group, a global network of donors and grantmakers committed to advancing human rights. From 2003-08, Michael was Executive Director of the Coro New York Leadership Center in New York City; from 1995-2001, he served as Executive Director of the Literacy Assistance Center, also in NYC; and, prior, he was as an Assistant to the Chancellor of the NYC Public Schools and a Visiting Non-Profit Executive at the Yale School of Management. Michael plays leadership roles on the boards of a number of non-profit education, arts/design and human rights organizations and grantmaking institutions. He received his BA from Yale University and his MBA & MSW from Columbia University. Michael lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Jimena Martinez and their feisty young-adult twins.
Rick DaCruz is the Divisional Vice President of International Sourcing at American Freight Furniture, Mattress, Appliance, as well as a GREEN AP. American Freight, a subsidiary of Franchise Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FRG), offers affordable, high-quality furniture, mattresses and appliances through its direct-to-consumer, warehouse-style stores. With more than 5 million satisfied customers, American Freight has a strong legacy of helping customers save money since 1994. American Freight offers exceptional customer service and a one-stop-shop for quality furniture, mattresses and appliances at everyday low prices. The company has over 360 U.S. locations in 38 states and Puerto Rico.
Co-founder and creative director of Design Works International, Nancy works alongside Neil Breslau, her business partner, husband and co-founder of Design Works International. She is recognized for her natural ability to connect her passion for color and design with a keen understanding of the changes and developments in lifestyle trends, helping brands to adapt and capitalize on an ever-changing market. Coupled with almost three decades of industry expertise, Nancy looks for inspiration everywhere which affords her a unique perspective and talent for marrying design with commerce. Nancy is the talent behind various retail brands and product development programs, specializing in trend research and development, print and color direction, and keynote speaking for industry events.
Caitie is the accessory merchandiser, Creative Lead, & Sustainability lead as well as a designer at Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design, her family’s fourth generation retail business with stores in the Chicago area, northwest Indiana and coming soon to Naples, FL. Caitie is a graduate of the University of Colorado’s LEEDS School of Business- which has social responsibility, ethics, and sustainability as hallmarks of its curriculum. Caitie resides outside of Chicago with her husband, six kids, and dog.
Jason is internationally renowned in the furniture industry for his fresh contemporary designs. His work has been published in dozens of design and lifestyle magazines as well as hundreds of blogs. Notably, he was honored at the 21st Annual ARTS Awards as Product Designer of the Year, the youngest ever recipient of this prestigious award. In late 2009, he won VERANDA magazine’s inaugural ‘The Art of Design’ Award for his body of work in the ‘Trade Secrets’ category. Jason is VP/Creative Director for The Phillips Collection, an SFC Founding Member, in High Point, North Carolina. In 2007, he founded Jason Phillips Designs, a brand that serves as a conduit for his out-of-the-box design concepts and freelance work.
Phantila Phataraprasit is the co-founder and CEO of Sabai Design, a sustainable furniture company with the mission to make conscious living accessible. After graduating from Columbia, she worked at Morgan Stanley for a year before attending NYU School of Law. Phantila is from Thailand, was recognized by Inc.’s Female Founders 100 (2021) and is passionate about all things sustainable/circular.
Jonsara Ruth is Design Director at Parsons The New School Healthy Materials Lab, Founding Director of the MFA Interior Design Program, and Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design. Here she led AFTERTASTE, a symposium that brings new definition to the field of interiors. Central to her work is listening to and learning from diverse perspectives, and studying human experience, behavior, and health as principal motivations for design. Material curiosities drive her research.
Scarlette Tapp is the Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. A GREEN Accredited Professional, she has extensive nonprofit leadership experience, especially in the areas of fundraising, communications, marketing, and strategic planning. Scarlette has worked with organizations in nature conservancy, the arts, and education throughout her nonprofit career.
Angie Kenny is serving as SFC's Program Director. She has a degree in interior design and has worked in the field in NYC and in Greensboro, NC, where she was part of the design team building Proximity Hotel as the first LEED Platinum hotel in the U.S.
Julia Eanes is SFC's Communications Associate. She is a North Carolina native and a graduate of Appalachian State University, where she earned two degrees in Sustainable Development and Anthropology. Julia is passionate about sustainability and interior design.