Shining Stars

Beacons of Light

The Shining Star awards are given to the top volunteer in each chapter. Nominated and selected by their peers, Shining Stars are passionate, engaged volunteers who contribute extraordinary effort and energy to their local chapters.

Watch this video highlighting the 2018 Shining Stars at WJA National's IN THE SPOTLIGHT event.



2023 Shining Stars

Alaine Hutson
WJA Austin

Alaine Hutson, visionary founder of Social Justice Jewelry, merges creativity, academia, and activism. Based in Austin, TX since 2018, Alaine, an African American woman, blends her academic journey from US, UK, and Nigeria universities with her metalworking expertise from Missouri State University and jewelry schools. Currently, she teaches history at Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University and co-founded The Jeweler's Saw Co-op. Alaine’s advocacy extends to social justice, ethical sourcing, and economic fairness, embodied in her business ethos. Actively involved in the Women’s Jewelry Association, she provides a platform for learning and community at The Jeweler’s Saw.

Wendy Jo New
WJA Boston

Wendy Jo New, an active WJA member since 2014, has served as Co-Membership Chair and President of the Boston Chapter. Despite the pandemic challenges, Wendy strengthened WJA connections nationally through virtual platforms. A recipient of WJA grants, Wendy is a skilled goldsmith specializing in contemporary jewelry with a focus on clean lines and subtle elegance. She also provides metalsmithing instruction, blending her background in education with her passion for crafting meaningful pieces, particularly engagement and wedding rings.


Manos Phoundoulakis 
WJA Colorado
Manos has been a consistent supporter, collaborator and participant with WJA Colorado for many years. Over the years Manos has offered his expertise for multiple events and helped organize collaborations with AGS. He fully embodies what it means to be a WJA Shining Star. Manos comes from a family steeped in jewelry, entrepreneurship, and innovation. A native of Greece who moved to the United States as a child, he witnessed his father and uncles build successful businesses in the jewelry industry from nothing. Following their example, but finding his own path, Manos has spent years working with fine jewelry and rare gems in sales and business development for multiple award-winning designers.


Kelly Grise
WJA Dallas

Kelly has loved jewelry from an early age. As a child, one of her favorite activities was playing with her Mother’s and Grandmother’s jewelry. She adored trying it on, organizing, and displaying it. As soon as she was old enough, she made sure every outfit had the perfect piece of jewelry to go with it. When the opportunity came to work in the jewelry industry, she jumped on it, joining the Bachendorf’s team in 2011. She joined WJA in 2018 and has helped the board informally as she could, officially joining the board as Treasurer in 2023. A lover of all aspects of the industry, one of Kelly’s favorite things about jewelry is the longevity and sentimentality. She appreciates that it does not just last a lifetime but becomes a story that can be passed down for many generations. She is always ready to share her enthusiasm of jewelry with everyone she can!


Soojin Kim
WJA Los Angeles

Soojin Kim stands out as a valuable member of the Women's Jewelry Association LA Chapter, leaving an unforgettable impact with her dedicated service and exceptional efforts. As the Vice President of Programming, she not only showcases her talents but also fosters a culture of collaboration and positivity among volunteers. Notably, her pivotal role in organizing the Jewelry Night Out event highlights her adeptness in planning and coordinating. Soojin's journey with the LA chapter reflects continuous growth and active involvement. Her achievements make her a shining star, inspiring others in the realms of jewelry design and community leadership.


Lorena Shaffman 
WJA Miami

Lorena Shaffman, a GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional with over a decade of experience in the watch and jewelry industry, is currently working towards her GIA GG degree. Actively involved in industry trade shows and seminars, including "Jewelry History" and "GIA Jewelry Forensics," Lorena serves as a board member of the GIA Alumni Collective South Florida chapter. She is also a proud member of the Women's Jewelry Association (WJA), where collaboration and empowerment are key. Outside her professional endeavors, Lorena enjoys traveling, kayaking, and spending quality time with her family.

 


Ann Marie Sclafani
WJA New York Metro
Ann Marie Sclafani has been designing, making, and merchandising jewelry since 1995. She is a FIT alumna with a degree in Restoration and began teaching at the bench at the Fashion Institute of Technology for the PreCollege program in 2015.  Her early professional career began as a technical designer and merchandiser for large-scale wholesale manufacturers that also included roles in sales, purchasing and at the bench. In addition to being an adjunct instructor, Ann Marie is also the creative director of her own jewelry line Joseph B, and Technology Associate for the Jewelry Design Department at FIT. Because of her experience in both fine and costume jewelry, her work and design style can encompass both worlds.


Alisa Thorp
WJA Northern California

Alisa Thorp co-founded Mercurius Jewelry with her husband, goldsmith David Thorp, in 2007. She holds a BS in Environmental Biology from Columbia University, but followed her heart to study and teach yoga for more than a decade before taking over operations at Mercurius. Alisa is currently studying gemology at the GIA. She has been a member of WJA Northern California since 2017, has volunteered with the events committee since 2022, and currently serves on the board as an Event Coordinator. Alisa is also an Advisory Board Member of Ethical Metalsmiths.  


Robyn Dufty
WJA Ohio/Kentucky

Robyn has been an outstanding member since the start of our chapter. Robyn’s outgoing personality & hard work has brought many opportunities to our chapter and has kept our chapter growing.  Her strong dedication to the Ohio/Kentucky chapter and willingness to always give a helping hand shows each and every day. When the chapter needs help, she is there! When we need a good laugh, she is there! We are so lucky to have her on our board!


Carly Kent
WJA Philadelphia
"During my senior year at Temple University, while completing my Metals/Jewelry/CAD-CAM degree,I joined the WJA Philadelphia Chapter in 2017 as a Treasurer Board Member. I met many wonderful women and made professional and personal connections at the meetings. Through this mentoring I received some of the best advice about the jewelry industry and the types of classes I should consider at GIA. I graduated with my Graduate Gemologist in 2019, moved back to Philadelphia and rejoined the group again as Treasurer (recently swapping positions to Communications). Since then, WJA Philadelphia has been an active group with a growing membership at meetings and planned events that are both social and informative. Through collaboration, members are eager to help each other out, making the industry for women warm and welcoming. With the help of both local and national members of the WJA Foundation this past year, through diligence and focus, I proudly started my own company - Carly Kent Jewelers." 


Janina Messerlian
WJA Providence
Janina Messerlian is Assistant General Manager of Baxter’s Fine Jewelry in Warwick, R.I. She manages all social media accounts, connects with vendors, plans events and oversees customer relations. A graduate of Nichols College, she is Vice President of Communications for the WJA Providence Chapter. 


 

Maureen Moses
WJA San Diego

Maureen Moses M.Sc./G.G. has a master’s degree in the geosciences and completed her graduate gemologist diploma at GIA in 2017. She works at the intersection of ultra luxury fashion and science authenticating jewelry for Fashionphile, utilizing and maintaining the technical equipment in their gemological lab. She also serves as the GIA Alumni Collective San Diego Chapter President. Her guiding light is the quote, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”


Christine Heidel
WJA Seattle

Christine Heidel began her jewelry career in 2013 after deciding to leave life in the corporate world. She started her business at her kitchen table with a small butane torch and a bit of silver and learned how to make jewelry through a lot of trial and error, tears, and triumphs. After spending several years selling at art fairs and pop-up markets, she was fortunate to open a small studio and showroom in Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market in 2018. Today, She has a team of seven amazing women who work with her to craft custom and one-of-a-kind jewelry for their customers at Storica Studio.


Kelly Williams
WJA Twin Cities

Kelly Williams graduated college with a degree in fine art in 1995. She began her first jewelry apprenticeship at that time. She worked as a designer goldsmith and studied at several of the best trade schools in the country until 2010 when she started her own full service custom trade shop called K. W. Goldsmith. She has won numerous design awards and is a presenter and instructor at The Smart Show, RJO and the Stuller Bench Jeweler Workshop.