Jessie Brenner

Jessie Brenner

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Jessie Brenner and I am the Associate Manager, Yarn & Fabric for Women’s Sweaters at Ralph Lauren. I am 26 and from Norfolk, Virginia.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2014 and started an internship at Spanx on the raw materials team. While I studied Industrial Design and Design for Sustainability, what drew me to Spanx was Sara Blakely’s mission to empower women and her philanthropic work. It was important to me to work for a company whose values were in line with my own. I ended up staying on fulltime for 3 ½ years. This past February I moved here to pursue sustainable fashion. Currently, I’m working for Ralph Lauren in yarn and fabric for the women’s luxury sweaters team.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

Out of college I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sustainability I just didn’t expect to end up in the fashion industry. My time at Spanx really opened my eyes to the opportunities for sustainability within the industry. I never imagined I’d go back to school, but after speaking with some of the students in the first cohort I was convinced this Master’s would be valuable to me by providing the tools needed to prove the business case for sustainability in fashion.

Why GCNYC specifically?

I didn’t consider any alternative programs when I decided to pursue my Master’s. The students from the first cohort were incredibly enthusiastic about their experience and that was all it took for me to be convinced!

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to be working on sustainability in fashion, and I feel confident this investment in myself will help shape my career to positively impact the world around me. Every day I progress closer towards this goal.  

Amanda Moretz

Amanda Moretz

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

My name is Amanda Moretz, I am the Manufacturing and Sustainability Administrator at Theory. I grew up in a ranch outside of Kerville, TX, but have lived in Brooklyn for ten years now. 

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

Before Theory, I worked at Tiffany and Co for 2 years which was incredible, as part of the visual merchandising team who makes those famous windows come to life. I’ve been with Theory now for around 5 years, and it’s been fascinating. Every year my job changes just enough to stay vibrant.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I wanted to learn. I didn’t take my undergrad very seriously, and waited quite a long time to start a Master’s program because I wanted to make sure it was a really dynamic and educational experience.

Why GCNYC specifically? Did the mission have an influence on your decision to come here?

One hundred percent. My goal is to be a leader in driving the fashion and textile industry to being less harmful, and I felt like this program and this organization align perfectly with that goal. Plus, I wanted a program where I could go to class on campus and interact with my fellow students. I really lucked out because my cohort is 100% composed of amazing, intelligent, insightful people.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

There’s so much potential right now to create change, and I love that through my daily work and through my studies at GCNYC I’m at the forefront of this change. It’s FUN!

Michelle Gabriel

Michelle Gabriel

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Michelle Gabriel and I am the Senior Design Manager at Mara Hoffman. I am originally from Cincinatti, Ohio.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

I am a multifaceted designer and sustainability specialist with more than 12 years of expertise in creative direction, material sourcing, visual merchandising, and technical design for retail and apparel brands. I believe strongly in pushing the apparel industry towards greater sustainability and positive impact to achieve a more viable and healthy future for the planet, people, and brands. I am well-versed in all aspects of design, from production and sourcing to merging creative and strategic experience, in order to bring a product or brand vision to life through the filter of human and environmental sustainability. I am an effective leader capable of managing and motivating cross-functional teams under a unified and forward thinking creative vision. I currently serve as the Senior Design Manager at Mara Hoffman where I focus on pushing the conversation about what it means to source, produce and design sustainably for the contemporary women’s market.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I found myself at a conference with Textile Exchange at the Fair Fashion Center and a staff member mentioned the program. A little seed planted and I kept returning to the idea of the master’s program until I ultimately decided to take the jump. I am a measured person and take such decisions maybe more seriously than necessary but after some thought and discussion with my community decided to take the leap. It was a hard decision because my career takes a lot of my energy and time so to take on something additional seemed somewhat impossible, but it has been a great decision that I know is going to help me to achieve a direction in my career I look forward to.

Why GCNYC specifically?

When it comes to the traditional profit-first model most industries favor, business as usual is no longer acceptable. Therefore, to go to a traditional MS or MBA program is not prudent, in my opinion. GCNYC has a forward thinking ethos and specific perspective for the Fashion industry that I think imparts necessary tools to students for a changing future.  Additionally, it is one of the few schools merging business, sustainability and fashion. For that reason, it made perfect sense for my career and personal ethics.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

I am driven by the potential to create positive impact. This can manifest in ways as small as bringing a good attitude to those around to making measured and hopefully lasting change within an industry in desperate need of it. What brings me to the work each day is the knowledge that I am moving forward – hopefully with others ahead of me, along side and following behind – working to tip the scales towards good. This ethos pushes me to be active politically, to volunteer, to attend graduate school, and to be a voice that is hopefully contributing in some small way to moving the universe towards justice.

Brittany DeColli

Brittany DeColli

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Brittany and I am from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. I am 24 and working in Product Development on the Women’s 1941 handbag team at Coach. I am a lover of coffee, buffalo chicken pizza and Paris.  
 
Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?
As a developer, I get to see the lifecycle of the product from a sketch to when it is approved for production.  We are very involved in the process from working with materials teams, design, merchandising and our New York Work Shop. I also do a very large amount of costing. No two days are ever the same so it always keeps me on my feet! 
 
What made you want to pursue a Master's Degree at this point in your career?
I was not in a rush to go to Grad school. I am still a recent grad with A LOT of student loan debt.  I recently gained a mentor in the marketing field and really became interested in her career path and obsessed with learning more about marketing.  Also around that time, a student in the first cohort reached out to me about joining the program in the April class. It felt like everything fell into place at the right time and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. 
 
Why GCNYC specifically?
I chose GCNYC because I believed that something bigger was happening here. Like I would be a part of something greater. I believed I would be pushed to think differently and learn a new set of skills. I believed that I would grow into a leader, grow into the next chapter of myself and grow into a voice that I could use to speak about things that I believe in.
 
What gets you out of bed every morning, driving you to affect change? In other words, what's your purpose?
I am on a journey to constantly be better than who I was yesterday and to see how far I can push myself. I believe that my potential is endless and that by overcoming great struggles, I can achieve great success. I know I will change the world and I am capable of achieving my dreams. 

Shanley Knox

Shanley Knox

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Shanley Knox, I’m a 29 year old social entrepreneur and freelance strategist. I’m originally from Northern California, but have been splitting my time living and working in New York and East Africa for the past seven years. 

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

For the past four years, I’ve been working on building out a supply chain, manufacturing sustainable horn out of East Africa for luxury clients. The process of working to build out a team in Uganda, while building an enterprise from the ground up, and experiencing luxury eyewear, home goods and jewelry companies give us a seat at the table as a vendor and partner in their work has been invigorating on so many levels. A highlight in the strategic area of my work was working with Nike on ethnographic research for young athletes in emerging markets. To be talking to kids in East Africa, and other areas, who are usually seen as targets of aid as potential consumers, and facilitate their voices as a powerful new generation, was a beautiful cross section of the two types of work that I do. 

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

Most the work I’ve done as an entrepreneur and a freelancer has been learning on the fly, or at the very least on the job. I wanted to intentionally set aside time to learn in a structured, low-risk environment, both to give myself a moment to take a breath, and to have a safe space to work out some of the big questions I have, and to improve on some of the weak areas I see in my own work.

Why GCNYC specifically?

GCNYC had already been a place for me that was a driving force of inspiration, and a kind of “home” to come to where I knew that values are aligned, and that most the people I met walking through those doors was working to come at their work in the world from, at the very least, a desire to do thoughtful, positive work. In New York, it can be easy to get caught up in the nonstop rhythm of the city, and forget to intentionally meet people that are aligned with you. I wanted to take the time to intentionally foster that network in a space that felt like I could be safe, and welcome, in bringing my entire identity – not just as an effective strategist or entrepreneur, but someone who cares deeply about poverty, about unequal dynamics in different societal structures, about improving the lives of the people I work with. At times, it can feel like those two sides of my work: being a professional, and wanting to do good in the world, are intrinsically opposing. But I believe that’s a societal construct that has to go away. I believe the truth is that they’re actually inextricably bound. I wanted to be in a space that believes in that bond, and could help me continue to facilitate it myself.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

That’s such a big question. I think that, for most people, sometimes it’s honestly hard to get out of bed. But, especially as an entrepreneur or someone without a “typical” job, you have really big highs. You have really big lows. What feels sky high one day can totally devastate you the next. What drives me is the hope of moving more and more toward being a whole human who is on a journey to discover my purpose, which is ever changing, and to be a person that holds space for others to do the same.

Jessica Chang-Russell

 Jessica Chang-Russell

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

Hi! My name is Jessica Chang-Russell, I am 27 years old and a born and raised New Yorker. I am the Senior Manager of Operations and Events as well as the Title IX Coordinator at GCNYC.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

I started my career at 16, interning at various fashion PR firms including LaForce, Lividini and Linda Gaunt Communications. After graduating from CUNY Queens College with a Media Studies degree I started as an Events Coordinator at the Accessories Council and was later promoted to Events Manager. There, I managed 30+ events each year including 4 annual ACE Awards galas. I am thrilled to be in my role at GCNYC for almost a year now. I support the school and the Fair Fashion Center by managing events, operations/estates and I am very excited to dive into my new role as Title IX Coordinator and work more closely with our students.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I am always eager for a chance to expand my knowledge and skillset, and this unique program which provides that and so much more was an un-miss-able opportunity. Being able to share the classroom with a group of smart, driven and diverse peers who are passionate about driving change is humbling and fascinating.

Why GCNYC specifically?

Combining what I love, fashion, with something that has a meaningful purpose has always been a crucial career goal for me. GCNYC has provided me the opportunity to continue to combine my values and my career.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to make an effort to drive change that will shape the future of the world we live in for the next generation. We all have a role in fulfilling that and knowing that I share that responsibility to do better makes me get out of bed in the morning.

Marnie Vaughan

Marnie Vaughan Headshot

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello! My name is Marnie. I’m 22 years old and originally from Ventura, CA. I moved to New York about 5 years ago when I started my undergrad at Fordham University, here in the city. One internship led to the next, and I found the beginnings of a calling in CSR/Fashion Sustainability while interning in Marketing at Kenneth Cole Productions. I moved from there to a Marketing & Research position with the Fair Fashion Center (FFC), here at GCNYC, and I’ve been here ever since!

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

Well, I only graduated from Fordham in May 2017, so my entire “career” as it stands has been here with the Fair Fashion Center and GCNYC. I’ve loved every minute of it, and I can’t wait to grow with the team and explore any and all opportunities that present themselves.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s Degree at this point?

School has always been a huge part of my life – I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay away for long. It wasn’t really a matter of “if” I was going back, it was just a matter of when. This degree in International Fashion Marketing could not have been a better fit – especially with the Fair Fashion focus on profitable sustainability. Being part of the inaugural class has been such an exciting, rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience, I couldn’t have chosen a better time to be part of something so purposeful. 

Why GCNYC specifically?

I was drawn to the program for the same reason I was drawn to working here – the community of change-makers is unlike any other. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I had the feeling that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right thing. Our mission For the Common Good has guided me every day, and truly drives the work of the work of the school and the Fair Fashion Center alife. It has been so humbling to experience first-hand.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

Each new day is yesterday’s tomorrow – with new reasons to put one foot in front of the other and do more. I get up out of bed every morning thankful to have a set of fresh, revitalizing opportunities and adventures waiting for me. It is a simple yet profound luxury to be part of a community that is working to advance the global development agenda, using microcosmic actions to create a macrocosmic ripple effect. I’d like to believe that my purpose is to live well and live better, each day more impactful than the last. 

Liz Pulos

Liz Pulos

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Liz Pulos, I work in Social Compliance and Sustainability at Macy’s Merchandising Group. I’m originally from Alberta, Canada, where I was raised first to be a classical musician, then an environmental scientist. After escaping to fashion school in Montréal, I eventually landed in New York in 2001, where I’ve been ever since (with the exception of 20 traumatic months in Washington, D.C.).

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

I moved to New York for a job in cultural trend forecasting, which involved creating branding strategies around the intersection of “crazy” ideas like string theory, neuroplasticity, biodesign, and complex networks. This led to almost ten years of production work in film, commercial photography, advertising, and theater, before finally finding my way back to fashion in 2015, when I was hired to run auditing and administrative operations at an NGO that certifies apparel factories for social (i.e. human and labor rights) compliance. Now at Macy’s for just over a year, I try to help our product teams source responsibly while casually studying the organizational psychology and behavior of a $25B retailer.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I’d been thinking about getting a master’s degree for a while, but was having trouble finding a program that satisfied my specific needs and interests. I really wanted to take my diverse experiences and skills to another level, apply my specialized supply chain knowledge in an academic context, and explore ways to think and communicate differently about ethical fashion. I’m always looking for new opportunities to learn, but it was really just the right challenge at the right time that led me to take the leap and go back to school.

Why GCNYC specifically? Did our mission "For the Common Good" inspire your decision in any way?

I was immediately drawn to GCNYC’s mission, as well as its Chancellor Muhammad Yunus. My time working with factory workers, managers, and auditors in Bangladesh and China taught me that there are always at least three sides to every story, and if you don’t come to the table ready to listen and really understand everyone’s motivations, you’re never going to lead positive change. GCNYC takes this spirit and runs with it; coupled with the Fair Fashion curriculum and an incredible administration and student body, it offered everything I was looking for in an academic program.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change?  What’s your purpose?

I’ve wanted to be in fashion for as long as I can remember, but I’m also a bit of an anti-consumer, so finding my purpose has always involved striking a delicate balance those two ideas. I’m lucky in that I found a career that feeds my curiosity about the world, lets me tackle big problems every day, and keeps me connected to the art of apparel. I might not be changing the world, but I get up every day feeling like I might just have the power to.

Selena Lounds 

 Selena Lounds

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Selena Lounds, an I’m the Sr Manager of the Design Technology and 3D Footwear teams at Coach. I’ve lived in NYC for 16 years and I’m what some affectionately call an “Air Force Brat”, which basically means I’ve lived all over the world; Montana, Guam, Germany, and Texas to name a few.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

I consider myself to be an innovative, intuitive designer, project manager, and technology advocate with a diverse creative background. Though trained as a graphic designer, I’ve spent 15 years using my design skills and aptitude for technology to forge a path within NYC’s fashion industry. My passion for design and technology and their ability to empower teams to create, collaborate, and streamline their processes informs my day-to-day management and problem-solving decisions.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I’ve been looking into getting my master's for years, but the timing, program or school never quite felt right. It’s incredibly important to me to continue to learn throughout my life and career. Not only does it keep things interesting and challenging, but it’s also incredibly important professionally! In order to continue to be impactful and influential, it’s crucial to grow and evolve my abilities and knowledge.

Why GCNYC specifically? 

I was so excited when I heard about GCNYC. The master’s program aligned both to my core values and felt like a natural progression for my career. Also, the course load, requirements, and timeline felt completely manageable in my already hectic schedule. The mission "For the Common Good" was an added bonus!

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

The world is a fascinating place and the passion to live up to our mission “For the Common Good” really drives me. The knowledge, skills, and connections that I’ll gain while attending GCNYC will not only complement my existing professional experience, but will afford me the opportunity to positively impact the future of fashion and drive innovation.  I’m hoping to emerge as a thought leader whose insight and influence help to shape the industry and move us towards a more sustainable future.

Jill Hatton

 Jill Hatton

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 
My name is Jill Hatton, I work in Wholesale Sales & Planning. I'm 43 years old, and I have been in NYC for the last 15 years (on/off) and have worked in the Fashion industry since I was 23.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?
I am a seasoned wholesale sales professional, with expertise in the luxury apparel and accessories sector.  My experience includes roles with global brands such as Burberry, Michael Kors, Monique Lhuillier and Hugo Boss. I hold a BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado and I am a 2018 Masters candidate for International Marketing.  
 
What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?
I’ve always wanted to get a master’s degree…it has been a void in my life for many years. That said, this interesting opportunity/ program presented itself.  The stars were aligned in terms of the timing relative to where I was in my life and career, so I thought “just do it”.
 
Why GCNYC specifically?
I chose GCNYC for several reasons… First and foremost, I respect that the Fair Fashion Center is not only at the forefront, but also at the epicenter of a conversation that is incredibly relevant and important to our industry, and world.  GCNYC is a leader, and creating leaders, in the rise to change.  I felt (and still feel) compelled to be a part of this historic evolution.
 
What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?
It is in my DNA to do right by people and make others feel good.  I believe that knowledge and sharing knowledge empowers others to be positive and make the best possible decisions for themselves and the world. And because I am on the financial side of the business, there is nothing better, from a business sense, than empowering people to make ‘good’ decisions that will impact the world, as well as increase the profitability of their organization!

Natalie Hojell

Natalie Hojell

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

My name is Natalie and I'm a 29 year old Textile Colorist for Macy's as well as a Co-Leader on Macy's Go Green Employee resource group. I am from Kinnelon, New Jersey, graduated with a BFA from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and currently live in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 

Can you give us the highlights of your career?

Before working at Macy's I was a professional fabric dyer and manager of the dyeing department at a textile studio here in Soho. We worked on some amazing projects including costumes for Broadway, movies, and fabric that would be made into red carpet dresses. My greatest accomplishment there was dyeing the fabric for a dress that an actress won a Golden Globe in!

I've been a textile colorist at Macy's for 3 years. We manage color development and color in production. I was an active member of our Go Green Employee Resource group for about a year when I decided I wanted to step up to lead. The possibilities of making even small changes at a such a large and established company is challenging and exciting. I have been a co-leader for about 5 months and have helped to organize field trips, set up special employee facing events and we are currently working on the development of a customer-facing initiative. Bringing people together who care about sustainability and making them realize that they are not alone is the most rewarding part of working on the Go Green ERG. 

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I have been thinking that I was ready for a new chapter in my life and a new challenge. Our department's director who also leads Macys Sustainability Committee told me about the opportunity at GCNYC and it seemed like a perfect fit for me. 

Why GCNYC specifically?

I always wanted to pursue a career that was equal parts creative and contributing to the greater good of society. It is a challenge to find something that contains both. I love the idea that each college is focused on different industries and reworking them for the greater good. The optimism of the mission is inspiring. We have to believe that change is possible in order to try and effect it.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

I have always been inclined to be environmentally conscious and aware of the impact that one thing has on the well-being of others. When I was working at the textile studio dyeing fabric, I started to question where all the water and dye would end up. Seeing massive amounts of water and dye (which was minuscule in comparison to our large scale industrial counterparts in other parts of the world) lead me to start asking questions and doing research. When I made the switch to Macys the questions became bigger, and harder to answer. Once you realize there is a pervasive problem you just cannot ignore it anymore. Because change is so slow to happen at a large organization I started volunteering to feel like I was being active in making a difference and something that was tangible. I take every opportunity I can to get involved with organizations that directly affect the environment like Grow NYC. My purpose is to do what I can and challenge what I think is possible, to revolutionize the fashion/textile industry to be a force that helps people/the environment rather than harming them. I am really proud to be a part of this group of incredibly intelligent and caring people.

 

‌Sara Roter

Sara Roter

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

My name is Sara Daly Roter. I am a wife, a mother of 2 young girls, a partner and creative director for a NYC design agency, as well as the NYC ambassador for a non-profit that focuses on saving women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer. 

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?

For the past 15 years I have been a partner in design studio DesignQuadrant.  I inspire seasonal concepts and trends, focusing my efforts on Design Direction and Product Development.  Steering teams with my creative passion and extensive knowledge in project management, I hone in on trends as they relate to each brand.  Inspired by the changing environment around us, I approach product design through the lens of innovation, sustainability and relevance.  I curate collections that fit the brand’s DNA through color and material.

On a more personal note, for the past 10 years I have been the NYC Ambassador for Bright Pink, a non-profit focused on breast and ovarian cancer awareness and prevention in young women by empowering them to live proactively.  I encourage and educate these women on how to be their best advocate as it relates to their health.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career? 

When I describe what I do, I tend to include, “I’m not saving lives” and it was time to change that.  I am looking to make an impact and apply my expertise in new ways. I oversee product from concept through to production.  The knowledge of the entire process allows me to calculate the direction of the design, acknowledging the various needs of the brand. It is crucial designers begin to acknowledge their footprint with each new season, and how they can find new and inspiring methods to lower their impact while maintaining their creative process.  I believe driving change and inspiring innovation will keep fashion up-trending for the generations behind me.

Why GCNYC specifically? 

I chose GCNYC because I was intrigued and inspired by their approach to the business of fashion, their for the “common good” and their passion behind the Fair Fashion Center.  They have a clear mission to modernize the industry.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?  

I am just grateful to tackle another day, whatever it throws at me.  Also, understanding every choice I make will effect the future of my family. I strive to inspire them on a daily basis.

 

Frank Zambrelli

Frank Zambrelli 

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Frank Zambrelli.  I am a husband, a father, a CEO, Creative Director, Chairman of the Accessories Council, business owner, and older than most people reading this.  I was born and raised on the north shore of Long Island, and now live with my family in NYC’s East Village.

 
Can you give us the highlights of your career?
I'm design and branding guy with a portfolio of businesses spanning the luxury accessories sector. After spending more than a decade working for world-class brands in the US, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong, I began our studio, Design Quadrant. More recently, I also launched the New York based custom luxury brand 1 Atelier, where we've opened the first new bespoke handbag factory NYC has seen in more than 30 years.
I’ve enjoyed following the pulse of change in the accessories sector, and am proud that my firm has been instrumental in the success of our clients for over 12 years – a roster including Calvin Klein, Restoration Hardware, Hunter Boot and many others.  I’m basically a culture creator - I like shaping start-ups for long-term growth or short-term sale, and leveraging my experience to redirect brands that have lost their way.  I represent our industry fairly often, in broadcast and print media, and on discussion panels across fashion and sustainability.  Some of my most exciting work recently focuses on guiding an industry in disruption toward a more experiential and sustainable future. 

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?
Sustainability was like a new color for me… it opened-up new facets to what we could do, and how we could do it.  There were suddenly so many possibilities to reshape our industry, while transforming our planet. I wanted to deepen my knowledge base and skill set, so I could integrate it even further into my work and life. There are few events that are genuine “Eureka” moments like this was for me – where you had no choice but to heed the call.
 
Why GCNYC specifically? Did our mission have an influence on your decision to come here?
The opportunity GCNYC offers is unprecedented. The connectivity to the Fair Fashion Center within the curriculum integrates the quantum shifts occurring in fashion directly into my education.  Where else can you attend class and have a conversation with Georg Kell, the founder of the UN Global Compact, while reviewing case studies of sustainable transformations with the leaders creating the change? Sometimes it’s surreal.  And the Common Good mission? It extends to the students.  My cohort is a dream. Brilliant, dedicated professionals with a diversity of thought and experience I feel privileged to connect with each week.
 
What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?
My purpose has a few sources of fuel… I am a father, so creating a better world for my daughter is paramount.  We all want the best for our kids, and I have a chance – on a more holistic level – to do something about it.  As for my work, well, this industry is my passion – and it would have to be.  As I tell the young adults I work with often; if you don’t absolutely love this, do something else.  It’s too hard.  Me, I love designing, building brands, fixing companies, and driving growth. Now I’ll know how to do it while literally helping to save the world.  How could I say no to that?
 

Marissa Pipkin 

Marissa Pipkin

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Marissa Pipkin, I am a Wholesale Sales Executive / Retail Consultant / Soon-To-Be Entrepreneur trying to launch my own business. I am from El Centro, CA – but officially a New Yorker since I have been here 12 years! 

Tell us the highlights of your career thus far...

Most recently, I was the Global Sales Manager for WANT Les Essentiels.  In this role, I managed 80 leading department store and specialty accounts across 4 product categories (Men’s and Women’s Accessories and Footwear) and in 30 countries across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.  With changes impacting the retail industry, I created non-traditional selling strategies supplementary to the traditional wholesale model: hotel collaborations, international pop-up shops, fitness focused capsule collections. As a young brand, I was tasked with implementing a replenishment business model and ensuring operational efficiencies.  

Before joining the WANT team, I worked with the Michael Kors for 3 years overseeing sales and planning for the global wholesale and travel retail businesses in the Women’s Accessories Division. I built high-growth sales plans and created the seasonal assortment strategy.  I was also a Director at Ralph Lauren; during her 6 years at the organization, I managed a team and held multiple roles overseeing Men’s and Women’s Ready-To-Wear, as well as Childrenswear.

I am a graduate of University of California at Berkeley and am currently pursuing a Masters of International Fashion Marketing at GCUNYC. Aside from my interests in the retail industry, I enjoy studying French, designing custom stationary and writing a monthly column with her sister for Valley Women Magazine on life in the Big Apple. I was selected by the NYCEDC/92Y as a NYC Fashion Fellow and serves as a Board Member on the Berkeley Alumni Board of New York. 

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I hope to teach industry related classes in due time.

Why GCNYC specifically? 

I came to GCNYC given my association with Fashion Fellows Program, and it was added bonus that it was For the Common Good.  

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

In the morning, coffee…! But really, I hope to innovate and improve the retail industry one sustainable step at a time. 

Maggie Kervick 

Maggie Kervick

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 
My name is Maggie Kervick and I am the Director of Strategy and Integrated Partnerships at GCNYC.  I was born at the Jersey Shore and landed in New York City for college and never left!
 
What are some of the highlights from your career thus far?
I am passionate about redesigning the business of fashion to be a respectful and regenerative ecosystem that supports people, planet and profits.  I currently work at GCNYC, with a key focus on research and development at the Fair Fashion Center (FFC).  The FFC facilitates the incorporation of sustainable practices by proving the business case, turning global issues into industry opportunities. Previously I worked at Kenneth Cole in a variety of roles, helping to engage customers in the brands philanthropic work through product, digital activism, and in-store activations.  Starting at Kenneth Cole as a Women’s Reaction footwear designer, my career was redirected under the mentorship of Mr. Kenneth Cole who recognized my passion and ability to connect business and society.  I found my way to Kenneth Cole shortly after my company, Bags By Mags, launched a partnership with Lifestyles® Condoms, offering three awareness raising handbags made to look like Lifestyles® SKYN® condom wrappers.  Through the “I’m Covered” campaign, Bags By Mags strived to put stigma to bed by empowering women to carry and use condoms. 
 
What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?
I was interested in continuing my education because I am endlessly curious.  I feel tremendously lucky to be working in a role where I am learning, exploring and using my skills to solve complex challenges every day. I felt the opportunity to be back in a more formal learning environment would only help to refine my abilities to navigate the rapidly changing business environment.  My undergraduate experience was focused on design and I was eager to be immersed in an environment that not only provided lessons on the business of fashion but also equipped individuals with the knowledge to navigate the entangled problems facing society at large.
 
Why GCNYC specifically? Did our mission “For the Common Good” have an influence on your decision to come here?
I was drawn to GCNYC because of its unique mission For the Common Good. I never imagined I would end up back in the classroom, but as I learned more about the program I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feed my passion of using business as a vehicle for global change. The program radically changed my approach to tackling problems of all sizes.  I have learned to ask different questions and step back to observe if I’m solving symptoms of problems or if I’m really addressing the systemic challenges. I could never have imagined the larger network that I would build by participating.  The intimate setting has allowed me to build relationships with many of the esteemed guest speakers, who have been kind enough to give guidance and advice.  I also think the experience has allowed for the creation of a really special bond amongst my fellow classmates and I am confident that these friendships will be lifelong.
 
What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?
I jump out of bed every morning excited to find links between business and sustainability efforts.  My passion and purpose is to evolve business practices to deliver benefits economically, socially and environmentally. I believe no business is better positioned to redesign its practices like the fashion industry.  Fashion’s global reach, culture influence and comfort with reinventing itself allows for a tremendous opportunity to find innovative solutions to drive value for all stakeholders.

 

Amber Johnson

Amber Johnson

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I'm Amber and I work at Coach as a product developer. I was born and raised in NYC, and have moved around Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Roosevelt Island.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?
I've been working at Coach for over three years and have dabbled in several departments. Prior to product development, I first interned with the fabric team where I expanded my knowledge of textiles. Later, I worked with the Market Week team, helping to procure and manage thousands of seasonal samples. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from Fashion Institute of Technology, and I'm currently working to earn my Master’s in International Fashion Marketing from Glasgow Caledonian University New York College as part of the inaugural class!


What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?
I am constantly looking for ways to grow and challenge myself. Going back to school is the best way to do that, and it allows me to be surrounded by people who want to do the same thing. The opportunity to get my master's came at the right time in my career when I was looking for a way to propel myself forward.


Why GCNYC specifically? 
Working in the fashion industry can be fun, but it's easy to forget just how damaging the industry is to the environment. Attending GCNYC has given me the chance to collaborate with others in my industry who have similar values as myself. We all know that change needs to happen for the common good of people and the planet.


What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? In other words, What’s your purpose?
I am currently finding my way through the industry and through life in general. While I believe we all have a purpose, I am continually trying to find mine. There are things that I like doing and there are things that I am good at; despite this, I am still working on finding the best way to have the most positive impact, no matter what I'm doing.

‌Elizabeth Rich

Elizabeth Rich

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Elizabeth Rich. I am 24 and currently work at Forum for the Future, a sustainability and systems change agency. I spent the first 6 years of my life in New Delhi, India before moving home to rural Connecticut. I’m an avid traveler, runner, new parent to a French bulldog, and a lifelong learner. Currently, I’m loving the ability to explore, live, & work in New York. 

What are the highlights of your professional life thus far?

I am passionate about the intersection of sustainability & the retail industry. I graduated Georgetown in 2016 Cum Laude with a BA in Economics and minors in business administration and government.  During college, I held various internships in both fashion and social impact including positions at Vogue, FabIndia, as a research assistant for Dr. Martin Ravallion, former Director of the World Bank’s Development Research Department, and as a fellow for the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation. After graduation, I worked for Bloomingdales as an Assistant Buyer and Financial planner in their rotational Executive Development Program. Currently, I am a Project Coordinator for Forum for the Future, an international non-profit working globally with business, government and other organizations to solve complex sustainability challenges.

What made you want to pursue a Master's Degree at this point in your career?

There were two big motivating factors. First, I missed school and the intellectual community that came with it.  Second, sustainability, especially within Fashion, is an emerging concept and I wanted to surround myself with the cutting-edge research as well as a network of other pioneers working towards this goal. GCNYC’s part time structure enables me to not only continue building a career, but also gives students an inside perspective into the fashion industry since everyone is still immersed in their fulltime work. I’m on a mission of proving the business case for sustainability by turning global issues into industry opportunities.

Why GCNYC specifically? Did our mission “For the Common Good” have an influence on your decision to come here?

It not only had influence, but the sole reason I chose this program. GCNYC’s goal to to redesign the industry from the inside out is inspiring. The shared vision of a regenerative ecosystem and community of change makers drew me in.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? In other words, What’s your purpose? 

I’m on a mission of proving the business case for sustainability by turning global issues into industry opportunities.  I’m so excited by the possibilities to use disruptive business models and cross-sector collaboration. Shifting these entrenched and complex problems society faces today requires systems thinking involving multiple stakeholders around the critical issues across supply chains. I’m lucky that I am able to get up each day and work towards a more positive future.

 

Elana Roeder

Elana Roeder

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Elana Roeder. I am 24 years old, I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I currently work as a Retail Planner at Theory. During my free time, I enjoy traveling, yoga, volunteering, and playing with dogs.

Can you tell us more about your role at Theory, and a few highlights from beforehand?

I am currently a Men’s Retail Planner at Theory, one of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the contemporary fashion industry.  As a Retail Planner, I am responsible for planning and maintaining fiscal budgets, as well as monitoring the flow of all in-season inventories for our Full Price, Outlet, and Ecommerce businesses.

I graduated with honors from the University of Arizona in May 2016, with a B.A. in Journalism.  During my tenure at U of A, I was actively involved in student government, Greek life, and philanthropic organizations, holding multiple leadership positions in each extracurricular. I also studied abroad, worked as a summer camp counselor, and interned at both FENDI and Theory/Helmut Lang during my summer breaks. 

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?

I am someone who LOVES school – always have, always will. I am a lifelong learner and truly believe education is the best investment. I was contemplating getting my MBA and had been doing program research since undergraduate graduation, but wasn’t sure that a MBA was right for me. Everything about the M.S. International Fashion Marketing program said “YES” to me; I would be back in the classroom and still work full-time, learn about marketing, and learn about sustainability with a fashion-focused lens.

Why GCNYC specifically? 

GCNYC’s mission “For the Common Good” greatly influenced my decision to enroll in this program. I believe that every business should contribute to the betterment of the global economy and environmental preservation, regardless of industry – fashion is no exception. The fact that I could pursue a Master’s program that had a focus on social impact was so surprising and really exciting. Also, GCNYC’s partnership with the Fair Fashion Center was a really strong selling point. 

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?

I feel very grateful for the life I have, and have always felt my purpose is to better the lives of those around me. I see each day as a new opportunity to be better and do better.

Liesl DeVito

Student Spotlight

Liesl DeVito

Tell us a bit about yourself! 

My name is Liesl DeVito, I work as a Global Merchandise Manager for Men’s Outlet (RTW and Footwear) for Coach and I am 30 years old.  I grew up in Westchester County, New York and went to college in South Carolina.  

What was your career path like prior to Coach?

Before Coach, I worked at Juicy Couture.  Growing up, both of those brands were brands that I followed and looked up to, so to work for them is extremely gratifying.  To actually be working in the fashion industry is the highlight of my career.  It took me a long time to get where I am but I have learned so many lessons along the way.  

What made you want to pursue a Master's Degree at this point in your career?

For the last 5 years, I went back and forth about going back to school.  I always decided against it because I didn’t want to give up my career or leave my job.  This program appealed to me because not only was it doable with my work schedule but it was a program that I have always wanted to learn more about.  For me, learning has always been a huge part of who I am and the fact that I can learn while doing a job I love is the ideal situation! 

What drew you to GCNYC specifically?

The mission “For the Common Good” definitely had an influence on my decision.  I somewhat knew the ramifications the fashion industry has on the world but I knew that there was so much more to learn and know.  I also care deeply about making our industry more sustainable but didn’t know where to start.

What drives you to get out of bed each morning and affect change? In other words, what's your purpose?

My passion for my career and trying to make a difference where I can.  I am only one person and know that I can only do so much.  But I do know that it only takes one person to make a change or start a movement, so why not me!