By Michelle Graff
Cecilia Gardner plans to step down as president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in 2017.
New York--Cecilia Gardner is slated to step down as president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee next year, the organization announced Monday.

However, the formal federal prosecutor, who has been with the organization for 18 1/2 years, intends to stay on board as general counsel, emphasizing to National Jeweler that she is not retiring and plans to keep on practicing law, which she has done for 40 years.

Gardner, who also recently left her post as general counsel for the World Diamond Council, said she is just trying to “reorder my life in a way.”

JVC board President Steven Kaiser, of Kaiser Time, said Gardner first came to him back in November about her desire to step back from her role as president and CEO come 2017.

In February, the board tapped one of its members who works for a company that specializes in organizational reviews to conduct a review of the JVC and its functions--who does what and how it’s being done.

“Before we get a new head, we want to really review what we need,” he said.

He said the review should be completed by the organization’s next executive committee meeting, which is scheduled for mid-May. At that time, the board should have a plan for the future of the JVC, with Kaiser adding that they hope to retain Gardner as lead counsel.

The JVC currently has a total of six employees: Gardner; Senior Counsel Suzan Flamm (who, in an unrelated development, also is leaving the organization, though the timeline for her departure is unknown at this time); Jo-Ann Sperano, the mediation specialist and paralegal; Assistant General Counsel Sara Yood; Membership Services Director Jeff Mercado; and Karen Kovach, the organization’s director of marketing and development.

Kaiser said “hopefully” the organization will be able to add staff following the review, as the JVC’s role has grown alongside the increasing number of rules and regulations impacting the jewelry industry.

“We’re very optimistic going forward,” he said. “The JVC is on a roll. We’re increasing revenues every year.”

Gardner is the latest in the line of top-ranking women in the jewelry industry to announce that they are stepping back in the near future.

Dione Kenyon is set to retire as president of the Jewelers Board of Trade this year, while American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories CEO Ruth Batson is set to do the same in June 2017.

Gardner’s exit from the JVC will coincide with the organization’s 100th anniversary. The JVC, which offers education and guidance on legal issues to companies in the jewelry industry, was founded in 1917.

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