New Leadership and Directors Elected to FIT Foundation
At its October 10, 2019, meeting, the Fashion Institute of Technology Board of Trustees officially installed two new trustees—Gabrielle Fialkoff and Mona Aboelnaga Kanaan—to its 16-member board. Fialkoff and Kanaan, appointees of the Panel for Educational Policy of the New York City Department of Education, FIT’s local sponsor, have commenced terms that end on June 30, 2023, and June 30, 2024, respectively. They are replacing former trustees Jay H. Baker, who served for 16 years, and Amsale Aberra, who served 10 years.
Additionally, the FIT Foundation, the primary fundraising arm for the college, recently elected new board leadership as well as new directors, who will each serve a three-year term. Gary Sheinbaum, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger Americas, was elected chair of the FIT Foundation and Eric Fisch, Carmen Nestares, and Ivan Bart were all elected as new directors.
“I am so honored to be the new chair of the FIT Foundation,” Gary Sheinbaum said. “FIT is such an iconic institution bringing together design, fashion, and technology. To be able to support the foundation’s efforts to promote creativity, innovation, equality, and inclusivity in the fashion and creative industries is a privilege, and I look forward to being a part of all the incredible work they do.”
“I am so pleased to have this distinguished group of individuals joining FIT’s boards,” FIT Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth T. Peek said. “I am confident that with their talent, experience, and enthusiasm for FIT, they will have much to contribute to our efforts—and I look forward to working with them.”
“FIT will benefit from the experience and expertise of each of these accomplished individuals,” FIT President Joyce F. Brown said, “all of whom broaden our outreach to relevant sectors of the creative economy. I am delighted to welcome them to the college and to the foundation.”
New FIT Trustees
GABRIELLE FIALKOFF, FOUNDER, GKF GROUP: Gabrielle Fialkoff’s extensive experience working with the nonprofit, philanthropic, government, and business communities provides a unique perspective into the inner workings of other sectors. She is the founder of GKF Group, an advisory firm offering dynamic strategies on social impact, partnerships, and public affairs. Fialkoff has more than 13 years of political experience, previously serving as director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office, where she brought together the business, nonprofit, and philanthropic communities to create high-impact partnerships across an array of issue areas, including initiatives like the Center for Youth Employment and Computer Science for All, which put private funds toward combatting income inequality. She oversaw the city’s many city-affiliated nonprofits and served as a principal liaison to the business community for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. Fialkoff also has extensive experience in the business sector as the former owner, president, and chief operating officer of Haskell Jewels LLC—a leading designer, marketer, and distributor of costume jewelry and watches—and as a former director of Investor Relations at Perry Capital. She is active on the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City Board of Advisors, which is comprised of prominent individuals in the business communities of New York who advise and assist the board of directors in identifying projects and programs that the fund might undertake to facilitate high-impact public-private partnerships throughout the city.
MONA ABOELNAGA KANAAN, MANAGING PARTNER, K6 INVESTMENTS LLC: Mona Aboelnaga Kanaan is an experienced CEO, serial entrepreneur, investor, and corporate director with more than 25 years of experience in global finance and investment. She is currently managing partner at K6 Investments LLC, a private investment firm she founded to invest in a wide array of industries, including financial services, technology, consumer products, and entertainment. Previously, Aboelnaga Kanaan was president and chief executive officer of Proctor Investment Managers, a firm she co-founded in 2002 to make private equity investments in the traditional and alternative asset management industry. She sold Proctor Investment Managers to National Bank of Canada in 2006 and continued as Proctor’s president and CEO until 2013. She worked as senior vice president at Communications Equity Associates, where she expanded the firm’s principal investment activities in the U.S. and Middle East. Prior to joining CEA, she was a vice president and portfolio manager at Siguler Guff & Company. Earlier, she held various positions at PaineWebber Investment Banking in the Leveraged Transactions and Financial Institutions Groups. A qualified financial expert, Aboelnaga Kanaan serves as a member of the boards of directors of Sterling Bancorp, Siguler Guff Small Business Credit Opportunities Fund, Inc., as a trustee for International House, and as an investment advisor and member of the board of pioneers of the Arab Fashion Council. She is also a member of the board of advisors of Ibancar, a fintech specializing in collateralized auto lending in Spain. A recognized expert in private equity, asset management, entrepreneurship, and the Middle East, Aboelnaga Kanaan is a frequent speaker and commentator in forums and publications such as the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, Pensions & Investments, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York, HFM, FundFire, and the Private Equity Analyst.
By New York State law, FIT is governed by its own Board of Trustees. It is comprised of eight trustees appointed by FIT’s local sponsor, the New York City Department of Education, through the Panel for Educational Policy; seven are appointed by the Governor of the State of New York; and there is one student trustee.
Current board members are Elizabeth T. Peek, chair; Robin Burns-McNeill, vice chair; Richard A. Anderman; Judith I. Byrd; Yaz Hernández; Joan B. Hornig; Jaqui Lividini; Beverly S. Mack; Deirdre Quinn; Robert Savage; Sally Singer; and Sallie Haas, student trustee.
NEW FIT FOUNDATION LEADERSHIP AND DIRECTORS
Gary Sheinbaum, the new chair of the FIT Foundation is chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger Americas, where he leads the North American business and oversees Tommy Hilfiger’s Latin America operations. Prior to this role, Sheinbaum served as CEO of Tommy Hilfiger, North America. He joined the company in 1995 and has worked in various capacities including president of Specialty Retail, president of Retail Development for the U.S. wholesale business, and group president, North America for outlet, specialty retail, and e-commerce. Previously, Sheinbaum was president of J. Crew Retail, and was managing director of Polo Mansion on Madison Avenue. He began his career at Macy’s New York in a variety of store line and buying positions. Sheinbaum graduated from Bucknell University with a BA in international business and Spanish.
Eric Fisch is senior vice president and head of Retail and Apparel, Corporate Banking, for HSBC Bank USA, N.A., where he oversees business development and commercial banking services for retail and apparel companies nationally. Fisch serves on the executive council for the City of Hope’s fashion and retail industry group and is an executive council member of Glamour Gals Foundation.
Carmen Nestares is CMO of Amazon Fashion, leading marketing strategy and brand development. Prior to this role, Nestares was CMO of Amazon Home and general manager for Amazon Kitchen and the Amazon Wedding Registry program. Previously, she was marketing director for Johnson & Johnson consumer products where she led a variety of personal care and global beauty categories, as well as the acquisition and divesture of several brands. Nestares began her career in finance as a futures and options broker in Europe, and holds a BS from the University of Granada, Spain, and an MBA from New York University.
Ivan Bart is president of IMG Models and IMG Fashion Properties, which develops talent in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, and Sydney. Bart oversees management of IMG Models’ A-list talent as well as IMG’s fashion events group, which owns, operates, and/or commercially represents fashion properties such as New York Fashion Week: The Shows, MADE, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Shenzhen Fashion Week, and the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference.
In addition to Gary Sheinbaum’s election, officers of the FIT Foundation are: Jane Hertzmark Hudis, vice chair, who is the group president of the Estée Lauder Companies, a prestige beauty company with more than 25 brands. As group president, Hudis is responsible for leading the company’s Estée Lauder, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, AERIN, Darphin, Origins, Aveda, and Bumble and Bumble brands globally.
Douglas Hand, secretary, who is a fashion lawyer and founding member of the firm Hand Baldachin & Associates LLP (HBA), which specializes in the representation of fashion and lifestyle companies. Hand is a member of the Business Advisory Committee of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), serves on the advisory board of the CFDA’s Incubator, and is a member of the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild.
J. Michael Stanley, treasurer, who is managing director of Rosenthal & Rosenthal, Inc., a commercial finance company specializing in factoring, asset-based lending and purchase order financing. Stanley oversees the entire factoring practice for the firm. Previously, Stanley held executive positions at Capital Factors, Inc. and Nat West Commercial Services, Inc.
FIT, a part of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for 75 years. Providing its 9,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Its distinctive curriculum is geared to today’s rapidly growing creative economy, including fields such as computer animation, toy design, production management, film and media, and cosmetics and fragrance marketing. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 programs and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the new creative economy. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Dennis Basso, Francisco Costa, Norma Kamali, Nanette Lepore, Bibhu Mohapatra, Ralph Rucci, John Bartlett, and Michelle Smith. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; and Nina Garcia, editor in chief of Elle. Visit fitnyc.edu.
As the primary fundraising arm for FIT, the FIT Foundation supports and celebrates fearless innovation, inclusivity, and unabashed creativity. Since 1944, the FIT Foundation has advanced the mission of the college and its strategic goals by preparing students to fuel the future of fashion, business, design, technology, and the arts. Serving as a bridge between donors and FIT’s schools, departments, and programs, the foundation strives to inspire and empower the vibrant community of FIT friends, students, alumni, faculty, and industry leaders. Through scholarship development, industry engagement, and programs and events with social impact, the foundation is dedicated to the following core mandates: igniting thought leadership, fostering ingenuity and exploration, and helping FIT lead the next generation of unconventional minds into the new creative economy.