The CanGift Board of Directors plays a crucial role in making the decisions that will shape the future of our industry.
The Board speaks as one voice but reflects the diverse points of view held by stakeholders across the country. Board Members serve in a volunteer capacity generously sharing their time, experience, skill and energy. Able to think strategically and subordinate personal interests in favour of the greater good, these individuals are committed to supporting the ever-changing needs of our growing industry. A thank you to this amazing team!
The Tate Group
A native and lifelong resident of Toronto, Stan has been married 25 years and has 2 teenage boys. In 2001, after 15 years working in numerous management and consultancy roles within the retail industry, he started The Tate Group. Over the past 30 years, his responsibilities have included financial management, supervisory roles, operations management, project management, team leadership and business development.
For the past 18 years, both as a manufacturer and distributor, The Tate Group has had the privilege of serving retailers across the country. He also owns and publishes a monthly community news magazine known as Leaside Life. When not working, you will either find him at a hockey rink or travelling.
Gourmet du Village
Ashley has been associated with her family’s business, ‘Gourmet du Village’ a Canadian gift food manufacturer, since she was very young, joining full time in 2005. She had helped in the business and attended trade shows with her parents from an early age, seeing how important sales, marketing and trade shows were. Ashley, who is fluently bilingual, studied culinary arts and hotel/restaurant management and wanted to bring her passion for food to the family business to help grow on what her parents had created. She is passionate, driven, and strives for excellence in all that she takes on. Her years of experience in many areas of the business provide her with a deep and unique understanding from both the customer and the internal operations perspectives.
The company currently sells to both independent retailers as well as key accounts across Canada and the USA. Now as VP General Manager, she is now leading the team to take the company to the next level.
Ashley is involved with her community and is a member of the Board for a local Youth Employment and Support Association (CJEPDH), who work with troubled youth who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out, to get them back on track, and help them find their path to a successful and happy future. She spends much of her personal time outdoors enjoying many different activities and sports with her family, friends and of course her dogs. Anyone who knows Ashley knows that her dogs are her children. Ashley’s philosophy: “In this ever-changing world, we have to be open to new ideas, to pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone, and having trust in those who surround us. We cannot expect from others what we would not be willing to do ourselves.”
A favorite saying she uses to motivate her team is “Team work makes the dream work”. She looks forward to working with the Board of Directors to keep the Association relevant and viable for years to come.
Diana and her husband started their business, SBO Distributors Ltd. (Swissbo) in 1995. Swissbo imports premium products and loves to support and champion the people behind innovation. Most recently, Diana has become interested in sustainability including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #12: Responsible consumption and production.
Prior to starting her company, Diana was a World Cup competitive alpine skier and later technical director of the BC Alpine Ski Association. At BC Alpine, she worked on athlete development and membership retention and growth. She also worked with Alpine Canada to develop their high-performance athletic program and long-term athlete development plan.
A graduate of the University of Lethbridge, where she majored in Management and Accounting, Diana is currently enrolled in the Richard Ivey Executive MBA program at the University of Western Ontario with plans to graduate in June 2022. She lives in West Vancouver, BC and when she is not busy managing her business, you can find her hiking or skiing with her family and friends in the Coastal Mountains of Switzerland or riding her bike around Vancouver.
She believes that, as an entrepreneur, the most rewarding part of owning a business is learning from peers and finding opportunities from challenges. There is nothing more inspiring than collaborating and using serendipity to create new futures.
A&F Gift and Souvenir
Michael grew up in the small town of Elmira, Ontario, and continues to enjoy living and working in the smaller communities of St. Jacobs and Conestogo. Michael’s first job was working for Canada Trust in the marketing department, which began an early career in Marketing and Business Development. After working for Labatt Entertainment, Bell Mobility and Consumers Gas, Michael was asked to join the family business in 1998. Michael began calling on customers in Niagara Falls and the Ontario market and took over the financial management of the company. Michael and his wife Sylvia purchased the business of A&F Gift and Souvenir in 2006.
Michael has also served as a CFO of a U.S. non-profit association for the Souvenir Retail market. The National Association of Retail Buyers successfully raised over $65,000 to donate to students at the University of Arizona to assist in their tuition fees for a retail degree designation. Michael’s other interests include travel, skiing and enjoying new adventures with his wife and their two young adults. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing degree from University of Guelph.
Nostalgia Canada Imports Ltd.
Philippe Jacques founded Nostalgia Import Canada in 1995 and it is now one of Canada’s leading wholesale distribution companies for gifts and home décor. The company prides itself on unique on-trend products not easily found elsewhere. Nostalgia Import Canada is one of very few Canadian Distributors that independently sources and manufactures its products. It is this buying and selling insight along with extensive national and international trade show experience that Philippe brings with him to the Board of Directors table.
Most importantly Philippe is committed to helping CanGift produce high quality trade shows that serve the best interests of both exhibitors and attendees.
Catherine Lillywhite has over 30 years of extensive experience in the gift industry. She started with humble beginnings crafting her own gift and floral arrangements by hand, owned and operated several retail stores, and is now a leading wholesaler for clothing and accessories in the gift and apparel industries.
She was a pioneer in the gift industry as one of the first companies to bring accessories and then clothing into the market. She is constantly searching for new and innovative products and trends for her customers. With her drive for business and innovation she hopes to inspire and bring forth new ideas to her customers to continue to drive success for all.
Asutosh Upadhyay is Founder/CEO of Hamro Village. He understands the complexity of Fair-Trade business on a global scale and embraces cultural and individual differences with empathy. He thinks globally, strategically and objectively to translate social responsibility into actionable insights, strategies and financial plans. He articulates an inspiring vision for the future, ensuring alignment of artisan goals by building collaborative relationships at multiple levels in the Artisan community and Global North.
Kitras Art Glass Inc.
Sophie Wilmer is the Executive and Creative Director at Kitras Art Glass, a production glass studio and gift company specializing in handblown decorative glass for gift, home, and garden. She is the Executive Director of SW Sales and Marketing, a holistic consulting agency that specializes in revenue, business, and brand support for creative businesses. She grew up in Kitras Art Glass, as it was started by her parents in 1988 and what started as a summer job in 2006 became a true passion for the industry and a commitment to help others with sustainable growth strategy through consulting.
She has a degree in Art History from Carleton University, is a certified DISC consultant and has a black belt in lean six sigma. Sophie Wilmer lives in Fergus, Ontario with her husband and three sons.
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