We would like to extend a warm congratulations to our Executive Director, Debi Chedester! She recently received the 2022 John H. Walker Award on Sept. 8 during the Society of American Florists 137th Annual Convention in Orlando, FL.
The John H. Walker Award was established in 1979 to honor the contributions of SAF’s former long-time Executive Vice President and recognizes floral association executives for the role they play as leaders of the industry.
Debi has been with AFE since 2008 and worked for the Society of American Florists before that. During her time in the industry, she has been a passionate and dedicated leader, tackling challenges head-on and always keeping the success of the industry at the forefront of her work.
Through her exceptional leadership, she facilitates AFE’s success and collaborates with many other industry leaders and associations, sharing insights for the good of the industry as a whole. She serves as a member of the Seed Your Future Advisory Council, the International Fresh Produce Association Floral Council, the Floral Summit Group, and the Floral Marketing Fund Board of Directors.
In her 23 years in the industry, Debi has spearheaded many successful endeavors, overseeing the success of industry research, funding, and programs, while making strong connections, developing partnerships, and securing major donors along the way through building lasting relationships. Over the last few years, she has grown AFE’s team, expanded AFE’s resources for the industry, and finalized a new, impactful Strategic Plan for 2022-2025.
“I’m honored, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to represent the American Floral Endowment and the entire industry for more than 20 years. I’m passionate because you’re passionate,” she said, adding a special thanks to AFE Trustees, donors, and staff. In addition to being surprised with this award, her son, Tommy (seen right), made a surprise appearance at the Awards banquet to celebrate with her.
An alumna of the Institute of Organization Management, Debi belongs to the American Society of Association Executives and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She was also inducted into the American Academy of Floriculture in 2020.
Under Debi’s guidance, the Endowment has grown its annual support for innovative research, scholarships, internships, and educational grants, providing vast resources for industry members at every stage in their careers. AFE’s focus spans research advancements, best practices, and continued education for industry leaders to internships, financial aid, and career resources for budding young professionals. AFE has something for everyone in the industry!