WithIt, a women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industries, has announced the nominees for its 2020 WOW Awards along with the addition of a new Visionary Award.

These annual awards recognize business leaders nominated by their peers who have contributed to the success of the home and furnishings industry and have demonstrated significant impact on their companies and the industry.

Kimberly Ward

The new Visionary Award honors a woman of achievement whose insight and actions have significantly impacted the home and furnishings industries. WithIt is presenting this award posthumously to Kimberly Ward, founder of the Black Interior Designers Network. Keia McSwaim, current president of the network, will accept the award in her honor.

“Kim’s legacy is the blueprint to any organization fighting for visibility,” said McSwaim. “She was a pioneer and legend, totally aware of her colleagues’ monumental attributes to the community.”

McSwaim said Ward exemplified all the qualities of a visionary by creating an award-winning interior design blog, Pink Eggshell, while building her successful design firm, Kimberly and Cameron Interiors.

Ward also published a list of the Top 20 African American Interior Designers, which eventually became the Black Interior Designers Network, an organization whose mission is to promote diversity and inclusion within the interior design industry by highlighting designers of color and supporting black designers with business development opportunities.

WithIt recognizes Ward’s work to bring inclusion to black designers in the industry with the organization’s inaugural Visionary Award, since her vision helped to shine the spotlight on black interior designers and created a platform for the designers to network, mentor and support each other’s business aspirations.

In addition to honoring Ward, WithIt will present WOW Awards in five additional categories:

  • Education Award – Recognizes an individual who has put forth significant effort to educate associates, retailers and consumers about home and furnishings. Nominees are Kim Ballweske, La-Z-Boy; Nancy Fire, Design Works International; and Sydney Vigotov, Crypton.
  • Future Leader Award – Honors a young woman in the industry who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and the potential to become an industry leader. Nominees for are Madeline Brown, Sherrill Furniture; Sydney Harris, Furnitureland South; and Jessica Phillips, The Phillips Collection.
  • Leadership Award – Recognizes the contributions of a woman who has demonstrated successful leadership in her company, WithIt and the home furnishings industry. Nominees are Carrie Dillon, International Textiles Alliance; Stefanie Lucas, American Leather; and Meganne Wecker, Skyline Furniture.
  • Mentoring Award – Honors a company or individual for their efforts to foster advocacy, development and promotion of women in their company and the industry. Nominees are Gail Doby, Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting; Cindy Hall, Sherrill Furniture; and Deborah Klein, DK Inside Designer.
  • Sales Excellence Award – New for 2020 and created to recognize a woman who is extraordinary in sales, demonstrates excellence in education and relationships with her customers, and exceptional commitment to the manufacturers she represents. Nominees are Tami Capriotti, Trusted Advisors Marketing; Janna Grant, Lakeside Furniture Sales; and Michelle Grant, Dardenne Designs.

Due to the pandemic, the board of directors has postponed the gala celebrating the WOW Awards until April 16, 2021, where finalists and recipients will be celebrated during a small gathering. The traditional 2021 WOW Awards gala will return to celebrate 2020 and 2021 recipients on Oct. 15, 2021.

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