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Doug Dirks

Doug Dirks

Ten Thousand Villages team member to lead Fair Trade Federation

Kristen Jenkins
June 24, 2008

AKRON, Pa – Ten Thousand Villages U.S. is pleased to announce the appointment of Doug Dirks, public relations representative and master artisan storyteller as Chair of the Board for the Fair Trade Federation (FTF).

"We are proud of Doug’s appointment to this important post with one of North America’s leading fair trade associations," said Craig Schloneger, Ten Thousand Villages U.S. chief executive officer. "I am confident that the membership of the Fair Trade Federation has chosen him to lead due to his extensive background within the fair trade movement."

In his new role, Dirks will be instrumental in defining the priorities of the FTF while leading its members forward, and implementing strategic initiatives geared towards the promotion of fair trade within mainstream markets across North America. Dirks was chosen to lead the fair trade institution by his FTF peers, and will serve as Chair of the Board for two years.

"Our main mission as a collective of fair trade wholesalers, retailers and importers is to promote our members so they can grow their businesses, thereby generating more work and income for artisans and farmers FTF represents," Dirks explains. "Currently we are working on a strategic plan that would make FTF the leading fair trade association in North America."

In 2010, FTF, headquartered in Washington, D.C., will turn 15 years old. And according to Carmen K. Iezzi, Executive Director for Fair Trade Federation, like any teenager, FTF is going through a period of change. This is a period in which Dirks’ leadership will be crucial: "Many companies have come to realize that fair trade is a viable business model—a way to create a positive change in their communities and in producer communities. Members of FTF truly have fair trade at the heart of what they do, particularly fair trade pioneers such as Ten Thousand Villages."

Iezzi said it is through FTF that the fair trade work of its membership can be celebrated and distinguished in the public arena. "We are fully committed to our member organizations because they are fully committed to the mission of fair trade."

Considered instrumental within the fair trade industry, Dirks has been at the forefront of the fair trade mission with a more than two decade history, working directly with artisans and within the fair trade retail industry to promote their products.

"I look forward to working with Doug to be a strong force for positive change," Iezzi exuded. "His considerable experience, both working with producer communities and in his many years guiding Ten Thousand Villages, will take the federation to the next level."

In the early 1980s, Dirks began what he downplays as a "humble" career immersed in the fair trade movement while working for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bangladesh. During this time, Dirks worked to start several small businesses designed to employ women who were otherwise considered unemployable. Some of the products these women made were exported to fair trade organizations such as Ten Thousand Villages U.S. and Ten Thousand Villages Canada.

"It was obvious to me that these sales made a tremendous difference in the lives of the women artisans," Dirks explains. He eagerly returned to the United States in 1986 ready to promote the sale of the products these women make, beginning his more than 20 year tenure with Ten Thousand Villages.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 37 countries, we are part of a network of more than 150 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products. For more than 60 years, Ten Thousand Villages has been establishing long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack opportunities for stable income. All artisans are fairly paid for their products. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

For more information about Ten Thousand Villages, please contact Kristen Jenkins, Media Relations, at 717.859.8150. For more information on an extraordinarily rewarding shopping experience, or to find the store location nearest you, visit

For more information about the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) or interest in membership, please visit

For more information, contact: Kristen Jenkins, Media Relations, 704 Main Street, P.O. Box 500, Akron, Pa 17501-0500. Phone: 717-859-8150