2019 INSTRUCTOR BIOS

TOM NEWELL

Tom was the founder of Espresso Stop Coffee House and Bakery, co-founder of Baskets To Go and International BasketFanFare® all located in Canton, Ohio. Tom owned Newell's Home Improvements and Newell's Wood Shop both located in Canton, Ohio. He comes from a Contractor background with sales and marketing know how that will not stop! Tom was in charge of sales floor, warehouse, deliveries, and everyday baking in the coffee house for over 2 decades! Tom was CEO Display Manager for Montgomery Wards for 3 states. This career was wonderful for our retail location designs and layouts. His design ideas are amazing and with his construction background made Tom & Pam’s partnership a winning collaboration. He has shared his teaching since 1995 with the gift basket industry. In 2010 he taught at the Fancy Food Show in NY, National Gift Basket Professional Convention, and The World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. Tom has also taught seminars at Atlanta Mart, Columbus Gift Mart, Western New York gift Mart, Minneapolis gift Mart, Kansas City Gift Mart, Pittsburgh Gift Mart, Denver Gift Mart, Nashville, Las Vegas Jubilee, Cincinnati – Jubilee, Chicago- Basket Connection, Aces – New Orleans, Aces – St. Petersburg, Columbus, Tradeshows, Temporary Shows,  Personal Consulting. Tom has been on the advisory board for Gift Basket Review, Columbus Gift Mart, Country Life, ACES, Columbus Retail Association, and more.  He has appeared on TV 8 and TV 3 morning show and news for their Design ability. He has been National Design Winners and nominated for designer of the year 5 times. Award winners for Ohio & Stark County Business of the year and nominated for Ernest Young award 3 years in a row. Tom is active in the retail, coffee & tea industry, and gift basket industry and will continue for years to come. Tom has a love for GOD and his family. Our family loves to take time to camp and travel in our RV. 2007-Tom and Pam founded the National Gift Basket Convention and have been sharing helping others grow in this great industry!
Tom Teaches Storefront Design, Corporate Management, Coffee House start up, Pre Room Flow,  HIring Staff, Start Up Business Success, and much more.  Tom Newell keeps everything running smoothly & is our time scheduling pro at all the events! Tom is the organizer!

PAM NEWELL


Pam started her relationship with the gift basket industry in 1979 when she opened their home-based business, Baskets-To-Go. Pam previously worked for Roadway Express for over 20 years in Payroll and sold Real estate for over 13 years. Pam has been a big part in train the trainer education group since 1970 and continues today.  In 1982 Tom Joined Pam at Baskets-To-Go and added a warehouse to support her growing commercial accounts. In 1993 they established an additional retail location that included Tom’s Dream of his “Espresso Stop Coffee House & Bakery”. By 1997 these operations, which included the Gift Basket Shop, Coffee Shop, Warehouse, Bakery and Corporate Offices doubled in size. In June of 2001 they opened their new international company, BasketFanFare®. That new company was housed in a 7500 Sq. Ft. Corporate Office, Bakery, and Warehouse location. In 2004 BasketFanfare moved to West Tuscarawas Street, Canton, Ohio to provide a better storefront location closer to Aultman Hospital. 

In 2004 they together started Gift Basket School, Inc. and decided to help the industry by teaching their own style of workshops "BASKology" and seminars! In 2005 they sold their retail location to dedicate their lives to education and helping others in the industry achieve their dreams! 2007 Tom & Pam founded “Wholesale Upscale Products” to help their gift basket friends find the best wholesale products in the industry. 2009 they sold Wholesale Upscale Product to a friend that wanted to continue their work. This allowed Tom & Pam begin a new chapter in their career. They saw a need for an Affordable Convention and are doing this today! Pam has taught seminars at Atlanta Mart, Columbus Gift Mart, Western New York Gift Mart, Minneapolis gift Mart, Kansas City Gift Mart, Pittsburgh Gift Mart, Denver Gift Mart, Nashville, Las Vegas Jubilee, Cincinnati – Jubilee, Chicago- Basket Connection, Aces – New Orleans, Aces – St. Petersburg, Columbus, Tradeshows, Temporary Shows, & Personal Consulting. Tom & Pam joined the teaching staff for 2010 Spring Fancy Food Show, World Tea Expo, and the Ultimate Gift Show. Pam is also on the advisory board for GBA and Gift Marketing Alliance. Pam has written for many Gift Basket and Craft magazines helping others grow their business with marketing tips! Her passion is to see other gift basket professionals achieve their own dreams and she wants to help the industry re-define with professionalism and style. Pam is a mom, grandmother, and wife with a love of GOD and Family! 2007-Tom and Pam founded the National Gift Basket Convention and have been helping others grow in this great industry!

Pam Teaches Goals and assessment, Customer Service, Basic Fresh Baked Design, Marketing, Corporate Mega Orders, Pricing, Corporate Sales, and Customer Engagement!

DEREK THIELKE

Derek Thielke’s 20 years in the specialty food industry comes from working for Mille-Lacs, Drangle Foods, Lactoprot USA, Owl’s Nest Cheese and Swiss Colony.  Derek’s expertise includes developing package designs and product formulation for the gift industry and selling to the specialty food trade. Derek has been part of the GBP staff of instructors since 2007 sharing his expertise in customer service, packaging, data base, sales, marketing, QuickBooks ease, Expiration dates, business laws and much more!   2008-2019 Instructor we all love!

TWANA JONES

Twana Jones is the founder, owner, and creative genius behind Twana’s Creation Gift Baskets.  It was founded in 2012 and it has grown exponentially and currently has a substantial number of corporate clients.  She graduated from Strayer University, Woodbridge, VA with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.  Her designs has won multiple first place awards in gift basket design competitions and continually amaze her clients.

SUE MONHAIT

Sue Monhait, also known as the #GiftBizGal, has recently gotten back into the coaching arena focusing on people within the Gifting/Baking/Crafting spaces. This brings her full circle from her corporate days where she spent over 20 years in sales and strategic marketing working with businesses such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, MainStreet (now Kohl’s), and numerous smaller organizations.  
Her passion is to help creative people start a sustainable and profitable company around doing what they love most.  Listen in as she hosts the Gift Biz Unwrapped Podcast for valuable free information on this topic. Also follow her on Instagram @GiftBizGal and in her Facebook Group Gift Biz Breeze.
Sue is founder of The Ribbon Print Company which provides equipment and consultation to businesses of all sizes. She designed state of the art software and an online training program bringing the industry standard to a new level. 
Sue speaks at various events within the gifting and crafting industries, is Past Chairman of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce and on the Advisory Board of Shopping for a Change.

J. BEN WEIDNER

Ben has been with GBP since the beginning both as an instructor as well as behind the scenes. He shares his expertise with the industry on networking, social media opportunities, elevator speeches, customer service, and standing out in a crowd. No one can do it better!  Ben worked from the beginning at Baskets To Go, Espresso Stop, BasketFanfare, Gift Basket School, and the National Gift Basket Conventions.
Have you ever wanted to stand out in a crowd? Ben WEIDNER has, and he does. Whether it’s while training and working with his staff at Showplace Theaters, or while teaching with Gift Basket School, Ben lives each day to the fullest. Ben has a very eclectic past. He started his career working for a family business with a family that he loves very much. He did whatever was asked and in return he gained the knowledge that he needed for life. Ben worked as restaurant managers, corporate trainer for restaurants and retail, and child advocate with the legal system. He has a big heart and an even bigger personality. He has trained his employees to be a Renegade and to get noticed while teaching customer service at one of the largest restaurant chains in the USA. He is Graduated 2018 with honors from College at Kent State in Organizational Communication. Meet him and I think you will agree he is not one you will forget!
Ben was your registration host for 2015- 2018 and instructor for customer service. 2018 finds Ben doing multiple jobs again from Registration, to sales, instructor of "Pick Me!''. Come have fun with BEN he has been a great part of our GBP group since it began in 2007! He is the BEST!

BARBARA D. WHITAKER

Barbara D. Whitaker is a leadership expert. She has been a speaker, teacher and consultant for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Unicorn Leadership Guild as well as co-founder/owner of Unicorn Wine Guild and Tea Room. She is also a Gift Basket Professional and advanced Designer.

    In addition to assisting with the development of the Leadership Advancement Guide for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, she has conducted seminars on leadership, parliamentary procedure, etiquette and protocol.

    Ms. Whitaker is a Registered Parliamentarian through the National Association of Parliamentarians and Tea Etiquette Certified from the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette in Charleston, SC. She is a graduate of The University of Akron with a BS in Nursing. She then post graduate studies at The St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Anesthesia for Registered Nurses in Parkersburg, WV and has served as clinical and didactic instructor in anesthesia. She is currently a staff anesthetist for United Anesthesia in Parkersburg, WV.

    Ms. Whitaker is active in professional and civic organizations and is a past state and region president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), one of the world’s oldest and largest women’s volunteer organizations. She has served as parliamentarian at the state level, protocol chairman at the state and region levels, as well as Leadership Chairman at the district and state levels. She has been a member of the Leadership Committee for GFWC and is a recipient of the Empowered Woman award, a national award granted by GFWC for outstanding leadership. She also co-founded the GFWC/Internet Providers Cyber Club. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Marietta/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  

Barbara joined the GBP staff of Instructors in 2013 and we are so glad she did with a great eye for products, wine, design, & customer service Barbara brings a lot to our events!

TAMMY L. SHAPIRO

Tammy, originally from Niagara Falls, New York where she attended Niagara University and obtained her Bachelors degree in English and Theater, along with a minor in Communications. Upon graduation Tammy worked as a local DJ for WJJL Radio, and then relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her love of acting and the arts, making several    appearances in movies and television.
In 1992 Tammy relocated back to the East coast and settled in Virginia were she has spent the past 25 years, raising her daughter and growing her business. Tammy is a single mom to daughter Dori  twenty. Dori shares her mom’s love for the Arts and Dancing and is now a graduate from Kent State University in Ohio where she obtained her BS in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
Tammy began her entrepreneurial days in 1993 as a Caterer/Event Planner and soon found many clients asking for Gift Baskets.  Never wanting to disappoint her clients Tammy began offering gift baskets and before she knew it she had two successful businesses on her hands. With the demanding hours that the catering business required Tammy decided to sell the catering portion of her business and just pursue the gift baskets full time.  In 2000 Tammy was named Designer of the Year for a National Gift Basket Magazine and began traveling the United States as a guest speaker at various Trade shows and Convention. Tammy loves to share her knowledge in product education, gift design, sales, marketing, business development, event-planning and much more...She has served as the Director of Programs for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce for ten year and was President in 2003. She was the Founder of NEW-Networking Executive Women a  monthly networking organization that focused on the development of women in business and various community charitable organizations. Tammy currently sits on the board for MVLE a organization that helps develop jobs for people with disabilities. Tammy has been recognized with several local awards for her products and customer service. She was a Co-Founder of Elite Gift Basket Convention.  A convention and trade show  serving the Gift, Floral and Party/Event Planning Industry. What Tammy enjoys most about her business is traveling throughout the US and sharing her love and knowledge of the industry with other entrepreneurs, leading them to success in their own business ventures.

Ben McGavin

Ben McGavin

Help Desk Technician

Ben is a tech enthusiast who is currently working on an IT Help Desk. Born and raised in Canton, Ohio and a graduate of Perry High School. He is currently a student online at Indiana Wesleyan University. Ben currently has plans to specialize in Cybersecurity. He found this passion after studying for and acquiring the Comptia Security+ certification. In his free time, Ben follows Cleveland sports and is working toward several fitness goals; the current being training for The Goodyear Half Marathon in August.   Ben is Tom & Pam's personal IT guy !

DANI DANSBY

I was born in California but moved to Missouri along with Gift Basket Drop Shipping a few years ago. I am working towards a degree in psychology, and I hope to someday own an animal-assisted therapy ranch for children with special needs. Outside of work, I spend the majority of my time with my dogs, Daisy and Bella, and my boyfriend, Brady. I love to travel, spend time at the beach, ride horses, and volunteer in my community.

 I have been with GBDS since I was sixteen when I began working in the warehouse as a gift basket designer, and I took over the Marketing & Sales Manager position about a year ago. Since I have been in this position, I have landed accounts such as BloomsGifts (or BloomsToday) and 1-800-Flowers, and I genuinely enjoy the daily opportunities I receive to personally connect with our clients and form long-lasting relationships.

WILLIE JONES

Willie Jones, Realtor

GRI, ABR and ASR 

Owner and CEO, Your Real Estate Network (Y-Rent) and Military Relocation Group


Mr. Jones is the owner and CEO of Your Real Estate Network (Y-Rent) and Military Relocation Group and was named Employee of the Year for 2008.  Mr. Jones is a Washington, DC native and resides in Virginia with his beautiful wife, where he is currently a Licensed Real Estate Agent since 2004.  His credentials are; Graduate of the Real Estate Institute (GRI), Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), Accredited Seller Representative (ASR), Short Sale and Foreclose Resource Specialist and

Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) Instructor.  Membership includes, Prince William, Virginia and National Associate of Realtors.  Mr. Jones educate and motivate clients through classroom training and seminars. 

A veteran - Retired – Army, Mr. Jones served as an Intensive Care Unit, Nurse, Manager and Instructor for 37 years at many Army locations.  Upon retiring, he joined a team of Doctors and Nurses that opened the first Heart Transplant Ward at Washington

Hospital Center in Washington D.C., saving and giving life to many. He has a BS in Nursing Management from Wayland Baptist University.   Mr. Jones has received numerous certificates and awards for his exceptional medical service.  

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