ISPA To Recognize Sidney Poitier & the Late Robin Zill at Annual Conference & Expo

September 3, 2008

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A spa industry pioneer and an Academy Award winner will be honored during the 2008 International SPA Association’s Conference & Expo, Nov. 10-13 in Las Vegas. Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning actor, writer, director and diplomat, is the recipient of the 2008 ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award. The late Robin Zill, co-founder of TouchAmerica, a leading manufacturer of treatment tables and equipment used in spas, is the first person to be awarded both the ISPA Visionary and Dedicated Contributor awards.

ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award

The ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award is given to ensure that the late Alex Szekely’s vision for ISPA and humanity continue to resonate for years to come. Past recipients include Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta; Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Cooper Institute and Aerobics Center; Ruth Stricker, founder of the Marsh, a Center for Balance and Fitness; Dr. Michael Jacobson, co-founder of CSPI; and Dr. Maya Angelou.

“Sidney Poitier has had a deep impact on American culture through not only his films, but also through his vast humanitarian efforts,” said ISPA Chairman Jim Root. “As this year’s closing keynote speaker, Poitier will share with us the importance of diversity through his personal message of achieving equality.”

In the early 1950s, Poitier began appearing in a string of groundbreaking movies that addressed issues of racial and social inequality including “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night.” For these cinematic milestones he received the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2000, and in 2002 was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

ISPA Visionary and Dedicated Contributor Awards

The ISPA Visionary Award is given to an ISPA member who has contributed significantly toward both the definition and positive movement of health and wellness over the lifetime of their career. The ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award is given to an ISPA member who has contributed significantly to the growth of the association. This year marks the first time the same person has been honored with both.

“Not only was Robin Zill dedicated to our association as a member for 16 years and a member of the ISPA Board of Directors, but she also had the vision to bring the spa industry into new light with the evolution of the spa wheel, which explains the 10 domains of the spa experience,” said ISPA President Lynne McNees.

Zill’s husband, Stewart Griffith, had the following to share about his wife: “It brought a welcomed happiness for us to see Robin recognized for all the energy and effort she gave to help realize the visions and dreams she shared with many in the spa community.”

In the early 1980s, Zill studied at Duke University and received therapeutic massage training from the Community Holistic Health Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. She developed her passion for the spa industry and started TouchAmerica with Griffith. Through her involvement and board service with ISPA, she was instrumental in creating the concept for ISPA’s 10 Domains of the Spa Experience and the 10 Elements Wheel. She also developed the Living Systems Professional Spa Series Training Program and was the creator of the Ousia Philosophy. After a prolonged fight with breast cancer, Robin Zill passed away in November 2007.

Stewart Griffith will accept the 2008 Visionary and Dedicated Contributor awards on behalf of his late wife during the General Session on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sidney Poitier will accept the 2008 Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award during the closing General Session on Thursday, Nov. 13. If you are interested in learning more about the 2008 ISPA Conference & Expo, please visit the ISPA Web site. Registration is open, and the easiest way to register is online.

About the International SPA Association

ISPA is recognized worldwide as the leading professional organization and voice of the spa industry. Founded in 1991, ISPA advances the spa industry by providing invaluable educational and networking opportunities, promoting the value of the spa experience and speaking as the authoritative voice to foster professionalism and growth. More details on ISPA are available on

Spas are places devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.

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