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June 2006

In a shock, William E. Boyajian, long-time president of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has announced his resignation. Donna Baker, GIA’s senior vice president and general counsel, was appointed acting president.

No reason was given for the abrupt departure, but most reports concluded it had to do with the GIA grading scandal.

Helene Fortunoff, GIA’s chair of the board, said that a committee has been formed to search for a permanent president. Baker is a candidate.

Boyajian will remain with GIA until the end of July in a consulting capacity.

“It has been a challenging, yet productive year for the Institute,” Boyajian said. “With many of these matters now behind us, it is the right time for me to retire from GIA.”

Prior to joining GIA in 2001, Baker was a partner in the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP. Baker was recruited by Boyajian in 2001. Before that, she was an associate in the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, LLP. Baker received a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and a Juris Doctor and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a member of the American Bar Association, California Bar Association, and the American Corporate Counsel Association.

Boyajian joined GIA in 1975 as an instructor and was later appointed head of Marketing and New Project Development. In July 1986, he was named president. During his tenure as president, GIA grew in size and stature.

Among other milestones, Boyajian spearheaded GIA’s move to new headquarters in Carlsbad in 1996, hosted International Gemological Symposia in 1991 and 1999, and expanded GIA’s campuses to 14 schools globally.  

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