PPB June 2022

promotional products landscape. For others who remember the changes that companies needed to make at the time, it’s very possible that it was Stone who helped you get up to speed. The Association understood then that the industry couldn’t afford to go on with business as usual without taking seriously the new regulations and requirements that affected so many companies. So Stonemoved fromPR to government relations and product responsibility. “A big part of what this department did was teach the industry what they had to do [to adhere to CPSIA],” Stone says. Change was necessary for both Stone and the industry. She would grow into the role and help the Association and its members evolve. It began with relentlessly informing companies what they needed to be doing and keeping in mind. Companies took the work of her team seriously. “It was a full-time job letting people knowwhat CPSIAwas, and then what California prop 65 [requiring warnings on products containing potentially hazardous chemicals] was, another big regulation,” Stone says. “So, we launched the Product Safety Summit.” Increased regulations are difficult for companies that put a lot into the concept of efficiency. But once something becomes a reality, the real efficiency lies in how successfully a company can adapt. The Product Safety Summit was not only beneficial in that it trained companies inwhat they needed to change, but it was also a showof good faith by the industry to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, whichwrote CPSIA. “Through the process, we forged a really good relationship with the [Consumer Product Safety Commission] itself,” Stone says. It took almost a half-decade of holding that event before the Association felt that the industry at large had come to understand the intricacies of the CPSIA to the point it no longer necessitated an entire annual event. The event would not end, though, only evolve. It was renamed the Product Responsibility Summit, and it is PPAI’s most highly attended professional development event every year. It has expanded to include social responsibility, supply chain mapping, and making sure there is no forced labor used for sourced materials. “And now, this year, we’re really leaning into sustainability,” Stone says of the event, which is slated for Sept. 18-20 in Newport Beach, California. Stone is far more than an event organizer, those who have worked with her say. Her true talent lies in her ability to disseminate information and set up channels allowing Association members to understand how that information applies to their businesses. “Anne is able to articulate and make sure members understand the scenario at hand,” Wright says. “I can recall government relations, compliance and product testing, to name a few important developments and challenges during her career.” The same goes for information that needs to go in the opposite direction. Together with Maurice Norris, PPAI’s Public Affairs Manager, Stone spearheaded Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) in which industry leaders take their messages to state legislators. Stone is also the lead content curator for this month’s Women’s Leadership Conference (June 2628) in Charlotte, North Carolina. She says the focus is to bring “top-notch education” to the first in-person edition of WLC since 2019. The event will include outside speakers and panels with industry leaders. Women attaining leadership positions has been an uphill battle for decades in most industries, and while Stone says that she initially didn’t love the idea of a conference exclusive to any particular group, “this community loves the opportunity to come together.” Women in business so often face the double-edged sword of perceived passiveness or assertiveness, but many have overcome that with their own specific skills and lessons picked up a long the way. WLC, Stone says, “is more focused on how you can enhance your leadership skills to move to the next place you want to be. I look at creating additional opportunities for the attendees.” Wright, a member of PPAI’s WLC work group, argues the success of Stone’s initiatives lies in her willingness to immerse herself in all the activities that she is involved in, making note of Stone attending Wright’s WLC yoga classes. “Anne still continues to impress me,” Wright says. As her anniversary at PPAI passes this month, don’t expect Stone to rest on any well-earned laurels. Like just about everything else she has her fingers on in the promotion products marketplace, she will be working tirelessly on the event’s primary objective: to keep pushing the industry forward. Auping is a news editor at PPAI. Stone credits members of the Product Responsibility ActionGroup and theGovernment Relations Advisory Group for industry progress she's helped steer. "Without their willingness to share insights and experiences, PPAI wouldnot have had the success it has had in corporate social responsibility," she says. | JUNE 2022 | 35 GROW