Gregor H. Lersch is a Master Florist from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. He studied Horticulture and Floristry including successfully completing the Master Examination at the School of Masters in Bonn Bad Godesberg. In 1974, Gregor was the Champion of the States Competition in Rheinland-Pfalz and also awarded the German Championship in floristry. He has competed three times in the World Cup of Floristry and was the Europa Cup Champion in 1978. He has won numerous other competitions in his career including winning the World Competition Body Decoration Golden Tulip in the Netherlands and the Singapore Garden Show Best in Show. He has won 30 Gold Medals in German Garden Shows and seven Best in Show Awards.Gregor is the author of 27 professional books and a prolific teacher. He has taught in 59 countries including Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Russia, Poland, Singapore, Norway, Finland, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Austria, and Columbia. He has taught in six languages. Gregor has also presented on the main stage at the AIFD National Symposium six times.
Gregor’s classes are mostly structured with both theoretical and practical sections. He uses lecture, visualizations, demonstrations, sketches, and handouts to teach. He uses discussion, critique, and hands-on learning to help students practice skills taught in his courses. Typical teaching topics are craftmanship, design methodology, botanical terms, cultural context, and emotional impact of designs. An important part of his teaching is based on his books “Wellsprings of Floristry” which deals with design scheme and “Wellsprings of Inspiration” which is about the creative process and the relationship of contrasts. He has also taught in large group settings and taught large installation design.
The Floristry of Gregor Lersch is a regardless, floral, natural style. He believes that all expressions in a floral design work should be made up of organic material as much as possible. The style can vary from decorative to textural and include bound work and planted work. He sometimes designs with an architectural look, but now tends to work with a more garden-focused, natural, and romantic style.
Françoise Weeks, born in Belgium, has infused her work with a quintessential European reverence for flowers and nature. Combined with creativity and mechanical ingenuity, she has crystalized her singular style of Textural Woodlands and Botanical Haute Couture pieces, garnering a global following.
Her generosity of knowledge and perspective in use of floral materials, structure and techniques, create rigorous and exciting learning opportunities for her students to explore all that nature has to offer.
Françoise’s studio is located in Portland, OR. She teaches workshops in her studio and offers online courses as well. She has taught in many cities in the US as well as in Canada, Mexico, England, Sweden, Iceland, France, China and Australia.
Her dynamic work has been published in national and international magazines, as well as an Emmy- winning TV feature.
In 2019 she was invited to participate in the renowned flower shows Fleuramour and FlowerTime in Belgium.
In December 2018 her book “The Herbal Recipe Keeper” was published by Timber Press. She currently is working on a new book "The Wonder of Woodlands", which will be published in the spring of 2024.
Hitomi Gilliam AIFD, CFD
Hitomi Gilliam is a much in demand floral educator with 28 years of retail experience. She devotes all her time now to education - she is committed to teaching, to raise the level of professionalism and creativity within the floral industry. She loves to share all her accumulated knowledge and skills to help florist become the best they can be - progressive and current!!
Hitomi is a member of the American institude of Floral Designers (AIFD) and is one of only seven recipients of AIFD's prestigious Award of Design Influence. She actively posts on Instagram (approaching 20k followers) with inspirations, design ideas, tips, and tricks as HitomiGilliam and Hitomigrilliamart. She is also active on Facebook as HitomiGilliam and HitomiGilliamAIFD offering deign advice. Her YouTube channel offers many free video tutorials for lots of useful techniques and tips for florist. She is distinguished educator and lecturer world-wide and has given presentations and workshops at many notable venues, art museums and botanical gardens.
In 2006, Hitomi was the recipient of the America Horticulture Society's Frances Poetker, which recognizes outstanding contributions as a designer, author and lecturer to the art and science of American horticulture. In 2008, she won 'Gold' and 'Best in Show' by invitation only, international entry at Singapore Garden Festive. On New Year's Day 2020, she was honored to be one of the 3 judges for the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Hitomi is a member of Teleflora's prestigious team of Education Specialist
William (Bill) McKinley AIFD, ICPF
Bill is currently Benz Endowed Chair and Senior Lecturer at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he also the Student AIFD advisor for the Forsythe Chapter.
Bill shares his enthusiasm for educating others not only through his higher education classes, but also through seminars conducted at state shows, wholesale house programs, garden club workshops and symposiums throughout the United States and abroad.
Bill retired from the AIFD National Board of Directors in July 2015 after over six years of service, but is currently the AIFD Online Education Administrator, serves on the Education Committee, Educational Partner Committee, International Committee and is a past member of both the South Central and North Central Board of Directors. He is also past chairman of the AIFD National Student Membership/AIR Committee, Education Committee, Educational Partners Committee and Certification Committee.
Bill was inducted into the Illinois State Florists’ Association Hall of Fame in 2010 where a scholarship was named for him, was awarded the AIFD Distinguished Service to the Floral Industry Award in 2010, and recently was awarded the Distinguished Service to AIFD (Fellow) in 2022.
Bill and his wife, Nicole, have three adult, financially independent children who amaze them daily with their imagination, courage, and self-determination.
“The art of floral design is a special blending of the arts/humanities and the
sciences. A successful floral designer must possess both an
appreciation/understanding of art as well as an aptitude for the science of
Jackie Lacey AAF, AIFD, PFCI, CFD
Jackie Lacey has over thirty-five years of experience in the retail floral market and floral education field. His portfolio includes an extensive background in the retail floral market and wedding/event design experience. Jackie now utilizes his experience to provide education and instructional design programs, market showroom set up, private retail consulting, product development as well as design and event planning. His current position as Director of Education and Industry Relations with Floriology, BloomNet and Napco and Senior Design Team Specialist and Senior Editor for Floriology Magazine keep him on top of market trends, current design trends, industry education and retail marketing.
Jackie has won numerous awards in floral design competitions in both multi state, national and local floral associations. Published articles have appeared on both his expertise and floral experience. His work has been published in Floriology Magazine, SAF, “Flowers &”, “Modern Bride”, “Inside Weddings” and many others. National Television exposure includes designing and participation for WE TV programs “Platinum Weddings” and “I Do Over” as a Celebrations.Com Floral Expert. Previous work for celebrities such as Drew
Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Diane Lane, Cheryl Ladd, Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere, Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio have come easily through participation with floral design on several major motion pictures.
Continuing education through numerous stage presentations for multi–state Associations and national industry leaders such as SAF, AFE, Virgin Farms Direct, Smithers-Oasis, BloomNet, FTD, Fitz Design Team, Floral Strategies and John Henry Company allow Jackie to help the continued growth of the floral industry. Experience in floral design for the Tournament of Roses Parade floats, product development team for the largest Import/Export show in the world and set up and design for Gift Market showrooms only adds to the vast floral experience he can call on for every event.
He has served as a leader in numerous industry associations to include his current position as President of FSFA International, AFE Trustee and board member, 2019-2021 AIFD National President, AIFD National Membership Committee Chair, CFD Committee, International Committee, and previous member of the Southern AIFD Board. Recipient of the 2021 FSFA Lifetime Achievement Award, AIFD 2021 Special Award of Dedication, AIFD 2022 Special Award of Recognition, and 2022 GLFA National Service Award.
Jackie’s extensive travels across the country, Hong Kong, China, and Europe afford many opportunities for him to interact with designers of all levels and share this extensive background and experience to florists everywhere.
Helen Miller, AIFD, CAFA, CF
Flowers & Such
Adrian, MI 49221
Helen Miller, AIFD, CAFA, CF has owned a successful retail florist shop in Adrian, Michigan for over thirty-six years. Combining her love of nature and desire for further education within the floral industry, she has taught floral workshops and presented industry programs all over the United States.
Education has always been Helen’s passion and she was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers and the Canadian Academy of Floral Art in 1997. She traveled to Germany to study European Designs for Weddings with the world renowned, Gregor Lersch. Helen obtained her Master Gardener’s Certification through the Michigan State University Extension Program to help her produce her own unique style of nature inspired designs.
Helen is an active member of AIFD and served on the North Central Board. She is a member of Syndicate Sales and Teleflora’s prestigious team of Education Specialists. Helen has been featured in Syndicate Sales educational videos and has designed for their photo shoots. She has had the honor of designing for the Presidential Inauguration of George W. Bush, and is a Creative Consultant for several industry companies.
Helen’s floral talent has been featured in many publications including Florist Review, Floral Management, and The Knot. Anyone who knows Helen knows how passionate she is about flowers and the floral industry. She is sincerely committed to teaching florists about the latest techniques, trends, and creative designs so they may utilize them in their own daily endeavors.
Carolyn Minutillo AIFD, EMC
Floral designer, shop owner, floral educator and certified floral evaluator and judge, Carolyn has over thirty years in the floral industry.
As an award-winning designer, and Past President of the North Central chapter of AIFD, Carolyn is also a mentor with the European Masters Certification (EMC) program, and floral coach for her second business, Mind Your Blooming Business. Carolyn is currently working towards her certification as a Profit First
Professional, with the goal of helping florists become more profitable and have financial clarity with their business.
Education in design, sales and applying proven techniques which make running a floral business more profitable are Carolyn’s passion.
Courtney Turner, AIFD, CFD, EMC, ICPF
Courtney fell in love with the floral industry unexpectedly while studying pharmacy in college. She changed majors and never looked back. She went on to run a shop for many years and eventually opened A Thymeless Bloom in 2013 as a full-service shop. She transitioned the shop to an event focused company in 2019 and specializes in wedding work in the Chicagoland
area. In the off-season, Courtney freelances at local retail shops in her area and does large-scale installations around the country.
Courtney believes strongly in education for herself and others in the industry. In addition to hosting programs and classes for local women’s groups and garden clubs, she teaches floral design and agriculture at McHenry County College. She was inducted ICPF in 2006 and received her AAS in Horticulture from McHenry County College in 2011. She was proudly inducted into
AIFD in 2019. Courtney completed her European Master’s Certification and became an AIFD Certified Evaluator/Judge in 2021. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s in Plant and Soil Science and Master’s in Horticulture from Texas Tech University.
Courtney loves to compete in design competitions. She has received several awards in state competition as well as second place in Illinois State’s Designer of the Year Competition in 2018 and 2019. Courtney competed and placed in the South Central AIFD Frankie Shelton Cup and went on to represent Frankie Shelton at the Mid-America Cup in 2019. Courtney was honored to come back and win the 2022 Mid-America Cup.
Courtney was on the Board of Directors for Illinois State Florist Association from 2014-2020 and returned as the ISFA Secretary in 2022. She is also currently on the Board of Directors for the North Central Chapter of AIFD. She continues to grow every day and share her knowledge with others.