Our Member in the Spotlight tells us about where she originated from, how she got into this business and some insights into her IFDA membership.  Can you guess who it is?

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Philadelphia PA.  My dad designed displays for liquor companies, was a leather goods buyer and established the first party goods department in a well known stationery store. My mom was a great cook as well as an entreprenuer.

When and why did you move to Florida?
In 2007 my husband, Neal, bought me a house in Florida for my 65th birthday.  We moved here year round in the Fall of 2014.

How did you get started in this industry?
When the youngest of my three children was 3 years old, I returned to school to pursue a degree in interior design as I realized that this was my calling.
While in school, I worked for a well known interior designer in Philadelphia and shortly thereafter established my own interior design practice.

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from my desire to solve problems.  Space planning intrigues me and I love to play with color.  Peoples’ needs to be functionally comfortable and happy in their environments, whether residential, commercial or contract are my inspiration to create the surrounding that best solves a given set of problems.

Tell us about one of your biggest accomplishments or design success stories.
In the late 1990’s I was asked to renovate a small jewelry store in South Jersey.  The end result was a successful and creative solution to “pepto bismol” pink showcases that made the store look brand new. I met the challenge despite the budget restrictions. As a result when the owners moved into new space, I was once again retained.  This collaboration continued for twelve years as the company expanded several times.  The research and application of retail principles, incorporating the need to “brand”, as well as working with totally raw space was my biggest success.

What’s on your bucket list?
On my bucket list as a designer is to guide every client to the project completion that makes their dream come true.
I really don’t have a personal bucket list at this point in my life.  At one time I wanted to visit every continent before I die but the world being what it is now, that is no longer on the list.
For many years I wanted to design a restaurant, but I have now put that one to rest.

Complete these sentences.
I dream of:
I dream of seeing the world at peace and wish I could somehow make that happen.  Alas, better persons than I have been unable to make that happen.  I do have hope that it will come about someday.
Something people don’t know about me is:
People don’t realize that I am a bit shy.
What I like to do when I am not working is:
When I am not working, I like to play golf (it relaxes me) or read an historical novel or non fiction and enjoy my grandchildren who range in age from 8-18.

Why did you join IFDA and how long have you been a member?
I became a member of NHFL, later to be called IFDA, in 1977 because my employer
told me it was a worthwhile organization.  It was such a welcoming group of women ( as NHFL was all female) that I immediately became involved.  After serving in several different board positions, I was elected president and held that position for multiple terms. Election to the national executive board was the next step and my election as chair of the Educational Foundation was a proud moment.

What does the designation “Fellow” mean?
To be designated a “Fellow” in IFDA one has to complete certain requirements including: elected IFDA positions, public service, charitable service, x number of years in the organization etc.

How did you achieve the honor of becoming a Fellow and what does that mean to you?
Serving on many board positions, both locally (Philadelphia Chapter) and nationally made my Fellow nomination possible, along with outside charitable and civic positions and a prescribed number of membership years in IFDA. I achieved “Fellow” recognition in the late 1980’s.  As a “Fellow” one is a member of a  very special group of people who go out of their way to make a difference within our industry and the world.  It is an honor to be a part of that.
My membership and involovement in IFDA from day one was probably the single best thing I ever did professionally.  Over the years it has afforded me the opportunity to grow personally, professionally and to meet people in our industry with whom I never would have had conact, such as editors of shelter magazines, and officers of major companies.  This has benefited me in many ways, from comleting a design projet in California without ever leaving Pennsylvania, to taking part in dedicating the Furniture Museum in High Point NC, to being quoted in industry publications, to being mentioned in shelter magazines and being asked to speak at a convention of professionals in a related field.

What is your best advice to some one who is new to IFDA about maximizing their membership experience?
As in most fraternal organizations, one reaps ten fold of their input.  The interaction among those who make the time to be involved is worth its weight in gold.

What has been the best part of being involved with IFDA?
In my thirty plus years as a member, IFDA has helped me grow as a person, has given me the opportunity to be heard within the industry at all levels and most of all, has afforded me the pleasure of making wonderful and true friends.
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 We are so proud to have this incredible woman, Leah Keitz, as a member of our Florida Chapter.  Won’t you all join in saying a big thank you to Leah for her dedication and service to IFDA and her inspiring story.  It is an honor to know her.