Image by Aaron Biano Tejedor  /


Volunteers from the promotional products industry and their work with PPAI in its committees, work groups and other programs are an integral part of the Association’s success. This 12th installment of an ongoing PPB series introducing the volunteers, committees and initiatives that have helped make the Association what it is today, takes a closer look at the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force.

The DEI Task Force partners with PPAI staff to expand diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the promotional products industry and its workforce by creating education and networking opportunities. It also works to increase the visibility of underrepresented groups within the industry’s workforce and inspire industry business leaders to embrace inclusive, unbiased business practices. Johanna Gottlieb, vice president of sales at distributor Axis Promotions and chair of the DEI Task Force, says, “The task force’s goal is to speak on various DEI topics in a safe place and let all members of PPAI know that we provide a safe place for them. We want to empower and educate PPAI members around the various topics connected to DEI.”

The task force’s members work together to discuss and plan education around different topics, meeting monthly and communicating via forums and email to keep conversations going. Gottlieb says, “We are a group of diverse individuals who each bring something to the table. As we work together more we are all learning about one another and leaning into uncomfortable conversations. These conversations can only help us grow and learn so we can each be a better advocate.”

The DEI task force has been busy. In March, it put together a panel discussion for Women’s History Month—the webinar, “DEI Series – Women’s History Month” is available at—and is focusing on getting the word out about its programs to PPAI members. Gottlieb says, “We want everyone to know that we will be providing content around DEI and that we are a safe place to turn to. It is our job to share the work that we are doing and to properly promote it.”

The DEI Task Force members include:

Chair – Johanna Gottlieb, Axis Promotions
Board Liaison – Noah Lapine, Lapine Associates

Kathy Cheng, Redwood Classics
Ed Hamner, Howling Print & Promo
Nenette Gray, Lemonade Creative Marketing
Sean Radford, HALO Branded Solutions
Joel Schaffer, Soundline
Cindy Tsuji, Image Source
Monique Erving, BDA, Inc.


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.