Dr. Dianne Welsh, University of North Carolina Greensboro and
Dr. Anne Coughlan, Northwestern University
Recognized for Outstanding Achievement

     Dr. Anne Coughlan, Northwestern University

Washington, DC—June 2022— The 2020 and 2021 Educator of the Year Award inductees are Dr. Dianne Welsh, Hayes Distinguished Professor and Founding Director, Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program, University of North Carolina Greensboro; and Dr. Anne Coughlan, Polk Bros. Chair and Emerita Professor of Marketing, Northwestern University.

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) honored the recipients at the Direct Selling Association’s Engage 2022 conference in Boca Raton, Florida on June 7, 2022. Created in 2017, the DSEF Educator of the Year award is given to educators who demonstrate outstanding service to the Foundation through leadership, personal involvement, teaching and research.

“Anne and Dianne have been instrumental in elevating DSEF’s mission of education through their own unique and complementary methods,” said Gary Huggins, DSEF Executive Director. “Both have worked tirelessly to advance understanding of the direct selling channel through academic research, published works, teaching content creation and thought leadership that has shaped academic thinking and student learning.”

Dianne has made tremendous contributions to DSEF’s work to partner with university professors throughout the country to achieve our goal of reaching more than 75,000 students per year through DSEF events and direct selling curriculum development. Under Dianne’s leadership, seven UNCG Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program (ECDP) professors each developed one week of direct selling lectures and assignments for courses in sales, marketing and entrepreneurship. The modules, distributed by DSEF to our 250+ Fellows, were designed to be incorporated easily into business classes across the nation.

“I am humbled and honored to win the DSEF Educator of the Year Award,” says Dianne. “Through the support of the DSEF Foundation, we can reach students who are looking for opportunities in their lives no matter their background. I have personally seen the difference in students when they understand direct selling. I can speak to their questions personally because of the knowledge I’ve gained through your generosity of including educators at your meetings and supporting our research and educational outreach.”

As an innovative thinker, Anne has co-authored award-winning research on the lifecycle of direct selling distributors and a paper assessing the validity of economics-based analytic models of direct selling in academic literature. She is sole author and ideator of a ground-breaking paper on consumer harm in voluntary business arrangements and a book chapter on direct selling compensation plans examining business and legal issues.

“Two goals have guided my career efforts:  exercising freedom as an academic entrepreneur, and focusing on projects I hoped would have impact,” says Anne. “My work in the direct selling area – where these words have special resonance – has enabled me to pursue both of these strategic goals, so it is a special delight for me to receive the 2021 DSEF Educator of the Year Award.  I hope to continue making contributions to this field for some time to come.  Thank you very much!”

For nearly 50 years, DSEF has partnered with members of the academic community to support research and education programs. These programs expand the knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of direct selling. The Foundation works with more than 250 professors in a variety of disciplines—such as entrepreneurship, marketing, ethics, sales, consumer studies, business and economics—to develop direct selling-related academic research, case studies and teaching content. In 2020, retail sales from direct selling achieved a record high of $40 billion annually and through 7.7 million U.S. micro-entrepreneurs selling on a part-time or full-time basis. More than 41.6 million people actively purchased products and services through the direct selling channel in 2020.