And let’s not forget ‘Gift for Life‘, our partners in the gift industry. Funds raised through various DIFFA initiatives are granted to organizations in the US fighting HIV/AIDS through education, prevention and treatment.
DIFFA’s annual DINING BY DESIGN New York will be held March 17-21, 2016 at Pier 92, with 30,000 square feet for design, creativity, and innovation, all in support of DIFFA. The event is co-located with the Architectural Digest Design Show, which attracts over 40,000 visitors each year. Johanna leads her loyal team and hundreds of design professionals to make this event one of the most anticipated and noteworthy each year.
Executive Director, DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider significant in your career
DIFFA’s core mission is to fight HIV/AIDS through by providing grants to organizations across the country. Each year, we host Our amazing events and receive contributions from our generous donors that support our efforts.
In 2015 we granted funds to one of our largest and most diverse groups of agencies nonprofits in recent memory. We supported organizations that do things such as provide direct health services for teens and elders, help HIV+ individuals who have trouble accessing housing or employment and offer prevention services that make a huge difference in the fight. Their stories were among the most inspiring I’ve heard in my tenure and it’s motivating to do even more as we see our grants put into action.
What are the rewards from your work
Our cause is serious and impacts so many – it’s an honor to be
part of such a special organization. We have such a creative and dedicated group of supporters and volunteers. Our events and programs are by far some of the most unique among charities anywhere in the country!
All together, they make my job fun and challenge me to do even more.
If there was a movie produced about your life – who would play you?
Which philanthropic organizations have you been connected to
For almost a decade I worked at Empire State Pride Agenda and donate to numerous women’s, LGBTQ, and HIV/AIDS organizations as well as a few dog rescues.
Can you share your motto or mantra
It started as a joke between some former colleagues but “Upwards and onwards” has actually become a great rallying cry.
What book are you currently reading
I just finished “An Untamed State” (Roxane Gay) & “How to Build a Girl” (Caitlin Moran) and I also just downloaded “The War on Alcohol: Prohibition & the “Rise of the American State” – I like having e the option of something heavy, something light and something non-fiction depending on my mood.
Who is your secret celebrity crush
Paul Rudd –
he is adorable, funny and somehow doesn’t age at all!
What is your favorite time of day
Do you know your heritage
Half Polish & Lithuanian – Half unknown.
Are you fluent in other languages
I can speak & understand a bit of Russian and French.
Do you follow astrology – What is your zodiac sign
No, but I was born on the cusp of Virgo/Libra
What would your DJ Name be
Do you have a favorite number
Nope but I do prefer odd numbers
Do you have a favorite fashion magazine
Nope! Sadly no!
What is your “go-to” fashion brand
Basic tops’s, sweaters and jeans is from UNIQLO and I received my first Oscar de la Renta dress as a gift last year and wore Halston Heritage for my wedding so both would be my “reach” go-tos.
If we were to peek in your closet, what is the dominant color
Black & gray – evenly split.
What is your present state of mind
A bit stressed but also excited – we open the doors to DINING BY DESIGN New York in just a few days and this year’s installations look amazing.
It’s 6pm at your favorite bar or restaurant, what drink do you order
Manhattan (up) or wine if it’s work-related.
Do you awake with or without an alarm
I wake prior to the alarm during the week; on the weekend the dog ensures that I’m up.
Do you have a favorite social media outlet
If you could be a background singer, dancer or musician – which entertainer (living or dead) would you choose as the star
Oh – Tina, Cher & Madonna! Could we all perform together?
What is the last photo you took with your cell phone
Something of the dog, Wally. – He’s much more popular on Instagram than I am, although I do help him with captions as his paws are unwieldy on the keyboard.
One of the best lessons my parents taught me is to
To always be true to myself and treat others as I want to be treated – with respect and compassion.
What is your favorite work of art
I love Polish posters – it is such a unique form of art and expression that was dictated (and subverted in response to) the state and reflects the beauty, creativity, brilliance and steadfastness of Poland.
What is your favorite building in Manhattan
Prior to joining DIFFA, Johanna served as Director of Development for Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s statewide LGBT civil rights and advocacy group. A member of the senior management team, Johanna directed their fundraising strategies and worked on a number of advocacy issues, including the successful fight for marriage equality for same-sex couples. She and her husband live in Brooklyn with their energetic cocker spaniel, Wally.
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