FIT has announced the keynote speakers and schedules for its 2022 commencement ceremonies. The speakers, all of whom are FIT alumni and distinguished leaders in their respective creative fields, include Sarah Holbrook, Ken Downing, Laure Heriard Dubreuil, Stacy Flynn, Ralph Rucci, and Karin Tracy. More than 3,700 students will be awarded associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in 31 programs, and nearly 100 students will be awarded graduate degrees in seven programs.
“It is a pleasure to welcome back each of these distinguished FIT alumni,” FIT President Joyce F. Brown said. “Highly accomplished, they serve as inspiration for our graduating students. I believe their presence will add to the sense of joy for the Class of 2022.”
Speakers and Schedule
School of Graduate Studies Commencement and Hooding Ceremony
Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Theater, FIT
Thursday, May 19, 6 pm
Sarah Holbrook is a public speaker, strategist, and writer, who specializes in retail innovation and long-term strategy, and recipient of an MPS in Global Fashion Management from FIT. Holbrook is a regular contributor to the Robin Report, a leading retail B2B publication, in which she covers future trends, innovative technology, and their significance to the retail and fashion industries. Holbrook, who has a film degree from New York University, began her career running her own talent agency with clients that included Wes Anderson, Errol Morris, Spike Jonze, and Jon Favreau. After 20 years, she pivoted to writing and foresight, bolstering her professional experience with a and bringing her rich and varied amalgam of experience to bear as she blended the past, present, and future. Holbrook recently gained admission to the Association of Professional Futurists and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in from University of Houston College of Technology.
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies
Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
May 24 and 25
Tuesday, May 24, 10 am
Stacy Flynn is the CEO and co-founder of Evrnu and a Textile Development and Marketing graduate of FIT. Evrnu is a textile innovations company working to solve the most pressing challenges facing the global textile and apparel industry. Prior to founding the company in 2014, Flynn worked as a global textile specialist for nearly two decades in roles at DuPont, Eddie Bauer, and Target. She holds an MBA in sustainable systems from Bainbridge Presidio Graduate Institute at Pinchot University. Flynn will receive a President’s Award.
Tuesday, May 24, 1 pm
Ralph Rucci is the founder and designer of RR 331 LLC and a Fashion Design graduate of FIT. After graduating from FIT, Rucci apprenticed with Halston before going off on his own, showing his first made-to-order collection in September 1981. His international breakthrough came in 2002 when the formerly known Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Française invited him, as the only American in history, to show a couture collection in Paris as part of the official calendar. He showed haute couture in Paris for five seasons, the most recent being in January 2022. He also showed a ready-to-wear collection for the international market in 2007. Rucci’s clothes are in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, and The Museum at FIT, among others. Prestigious awards have included The Star Award from the Fashion Group International of New York (2005), The Cooper Hewitt National Design Award (2008), and The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Visionary Award for Fashion (2011). Rucci will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York through FIT.
Tuesday, May 24, 4 pm
Ken Downing is the chief brand officer of Hearst Luxury Collections E-Commerce and an alumnus of FIT. Downing has had a storied career in retail. At Hearst, he is currently responsible for reinventing the digital shopping experience for the luxury marketplaces of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Esquire, and Town & Country magazines. Prior to his role at Hearst, Downing was chief creative officer for the international retail developer, Triple Five Worldwide, where he developed the revolutionary retail 3.3 million-square-foot shopping, dining, and entertainment complex—American Dream—in East Rutherford, New Jersey. From 1991, when he joined Neiman Marcus’ Beverly Hills store, he progressed through the executive ranks as director of fashion/visual merchandising, vice president of public relations/media/special events, to senior vice president/fashion director. In his 27 years with the retailer, Downing is credited with bringing a revitalized, relevant, and global point of view to Neiman Marcus and NeimanMarcus.com with his bold approach to seasonal trends coupled with his close relationships to designers and customers alike. Downing will receive a President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Wednesday, May 25, 10 am
Karin Tracy is the head of industry, retail, fashion, beauty, luxury for Meta and a Fashion Merchandising Management graduate of FIT. Tracy oversees Meta’s retail, fashion, and luxury practices, which she built to help brands drive business results through their work on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Since joining Facebook in 2015, Tracy has developed strategies tailored for retail, fashion, beauty, and luxury marketers and has pioneered initiatives such as Cosmetic Executive Women’s Digital Learning Series and Facebook’s first-ever Beauty and Luxury summits. Previous to joining Meta, Tracy was publisher of InStyle from 2012 to 2014, following four highly successful years in senior leadership within Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group as publisher of Entertainment Weekly and People StyleWatch. At InStyle, she headed the magazine’s marketing, advertising sales, and brand strategy for the monthly and annual special issues. In addition, she led marketing and sales strategy for InStyle.com and its social platforms, including product innovation, branded content, audience development, and ad solutions. Before her tenure at Time Inc., Tracy was associate publisher of Lucky where she launched the first-ever shopping app, Lucky at Your Service. Prior to that, she held sales positions at Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Interview, and was the advertising director at Teen Vogue. Tracy will receive a President’s Award.
Wednesday, May 25, 1 pm
Laure Heriard Dubreuil is the founder and creative director of The Webster and an Advertising and Marketing Communications graduate of FIT. After earning degrees in business and Mandarin from the Université Paris Dauphine, Dubreuil moved to New York City to study at FIT. After graduating, she worked on Nicolas Ghesquière’s merchandising team at Balenciaga and went on to be Stefano Pilati’s head merchandiser at Yves Saint Laurent. Heriard Dubreuil opened The Webster in South Beach, Miami, in June 2009 after relocating from Paris with a vision for a store that offered warmth, comfort, and the best of international fashion. The Webster now has nine boutiques with locations in South Beach, Houston, Bal Harbour, Costa Mesa, New York, Los Angeles, and Montecito, and most recently opened its first international store in Toronto. In January 2022, The Webster opened its first U.S-based pop-up in Palm Beach. Heriard Dubreuil will receive a President’s Award for Creative Excellence.