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Celebrating AFE’s Many Friends of Floral

Celebrating AFE’s Many Friends of Floral



Recognizing the Endowment’s Milestones,

New Initiatives, and Dedicated Donors



The Endowment hosted its annual event & reception during the SAF Annual Convention in Phoenix, AZ on September 7, 2023.


The evening was a celebration of the floral industry as a whole – recognizing supporters across all segments as well as announcing two new named funds, a new scholarship, the first-ever AFE Ambassador Awards, and more. AFE Chairman Ken Young of Phoenix Flower Shops kicked off the event by welcoming everyone and setting the tone for celebrating AFE’s current initiatives, accomplishments, strategic goals, and most importantly, our community of dedicated donors.“This reception marked not only a celebration of our shared accomplishments but also a promising glimpse into the future of the industry,” Young said. “Besides sharing groundbreaking new programs, scholarships, and funds, we also had the opportunity to recognize and thank the heart of AFE – our dedicated supporters – and the chance to share more about what AFE is doing through networking and conversations with industry members from across the nation.”

Updates were shared on AFE’s core programs – research, educational grants, scholarships, and internships. This included special highlights of AFE’s Sustainabloom – a new sustainability program providing resources and guides for areas of sustainability and the newly released Thrips & Botrytis Research Resource Library. These new initiatives feed into the ongoing success of AFE’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan and goals.All of AFE’s donors and supporters over the last year were recognized including over 25 organizations and individuals reaching new Lifetime Giving Levels, over 90 donors that supported AFE’s 2023 Annual Fundraising Campaign – R.I.S.E. to Support, and announcing AFE’s new Consecutive Giving Society. The Consecutive Giving Society honors the Endowment’s most steadfast benefactors who have been consistent annual supporters for three or more consecutive years. Over 20 donors and organizations were recognized for over 25 years of consecutive giving! View each of these donor recognitions in the full program here.

Two new named funds were announced – the Carlstedt’s LLC Fund and the Pérez Villegas Family Fund. And, a new scholarship, the Ruby N. & Roland A Whealy Memorial Scholarship Fund, supporting graduate students with research focus on reducing the effects of changing climates on floriculture crops was established.

The Endowment shared this video thanking all donors, sponsors, and supporters with special highlight of the new Lifetime Giving Levels reached this year

Two industry champions, Dr. Marvin Miller and Dwight Larimer, were recognized for their service, leadership, and dedication to AFE with the inaugural AFE Ambassador Awards. They have gone above and beyond to promote AFE’s programs and resources serving as ambassadors across the floral industry and academia.AFE also announced new Officers and Trustees to the Board. David Garcia of Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group was named Chairman-Elect and will begin his Chairmanship in 2024. Bill Foster of BioWorks was named Treasurer/Secretary and will be joining the Executive Committee. New AFE Trustees include Kelvin Frye of Syndicate Sales, Vijay Rapaka of Smithers-Oasis, and Adam Van Winkle of Stadium Flowers. Two outgoing Trustees were honored as they completed their term on the Board: Cindy Hanauer of Grand Central Floral and Tim Galea of Norton’s Flowers & Gifts.

The session ended with a reception full of networking and fun including a challenge presented by Past Chairman, Laura Shinall of FreshPath Marketing, to Fill the Vases in the room. As a part of the night’s theme, Friends of Floral, attendees were encouraged to join AFE’s Friends of Floral program by giving a recurring monthly gift to AFE of any size. Those who made a donation over the course of the night were able to place a rose into the vases provided and build beautiful arrangements celebrating the strength that our industry has to support innovation, advancement, and growth together.

Industry members are welcome to become a Friend of Floral anytime by setting up a recurring donation here. “The Endowment is made successful through the dedication of our donors. Through your ongoing commitment to the growth of our industry, we are able to make an impact every year on supporting innovative research, fostering the next generation of future leaders, and providing educational opportunities for all,” noted AFE’s Executive Director, Debi Chedester.The Endowment thanks and celebrates our entire community of supporters. Without you, these accomplishments would not be possible.A special thank you to the Event Sponsors:

  • Altman Plants

  • Asocolflores

  • Kennicott Brothers

  • Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group

  • Royer’s Flowers & Gifts

  • Smithers-Oasis/Floralife/DESIGN MASTER

  • Syndicate Sales
  • And to AFE’s Annual Event Flower Sponsor, Equiflor/Rio Roses, who has been providing beautiful roses to this event for the past 24 years.For more on our news from our recent event: 
  • New Scholarship →  New Scholarship Honoring a Legacy of Education and Service

  • Ambassador Awards →  Two Industry Leaders Recognized with AFE’s New Ambassador Award

  • New Named Funds →  Two New Named Funds Announced at AFE Annual Reception

  • Newly Appointed Trustees & Officers →  AFE Appoints New Trustees & Officers

  • Take a Look at Our Event Photos! 


    Click any photo below to see the full-sized image and click through the gallery.