Peter Arnold to Be­come Pres­i­dent Of YMA Fash­ion Schol­ar­ship Fund

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY JEAN E. PALMIERI

Peter Arnold is ea­ger to put his non­profit hat back on.

To­day, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Cush­nie & Ochs and Cyn­thia Row­ley will join the YMA Fash­ion Schol­ar­ship

Fund as its new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. For 80 years, the FSF has worked with col­leges to award promis­ing stu­dents in all as­pects of the fash­ion in­dus­try with schol­ar­ships to pur­sue their dreams. Its big event is in early Jan­uary when some 200 col­lege schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents come to New York to meet ex­ec­u­tives within the fash­ion in­dus­try and at­tend a fund-rais­ing gala. This year’s hon­orees for the event on Jan. 10 are Ryan Seacrest, Martha Stew­art and Macy’s Inc. pres­i­dent Hal Law­ton.

Over the course of his ca­reer, Arnold spent five years as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Coun­cil of Fash­ion De­sign­ers of Amer­ica, an­other non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, and he’s also a lawyer, mak­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence en­vi­able to his new em­ployer’s board.

Billy Sus­man, founder of Thread­stone Ad­vi­sors, and the cur­rent pres­i­dent of FSF, said: “Peter is a proven cham­pion of the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers in fash­ion. His ded­i­ca­tion to phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tions, com­bined with his deep knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence at the helm of ma­jor fash­ion brands as well as of the CFDA, make him the ideal leader to ex­e­cute our mis­sion.”

Macy’s Marc Mas­tronardi, who will suc­ceed Sus­man at FSF in Jan­uary, added: “While at the CFDA, Peter led the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s char­i­ta­ble arm, work­ing closely with lead­ing de­sign schools and com­pa­nies to pro­vide sub­stan­tive sup­port to young de­sign­ers. His broad ex­pe­ri­ence across fash­ion and phi­lan­thropy will be key to his suc­cess in guid­ing FSF’s ini­tia­tives.”

Here, Arnold talks about what he hopes to bring to the or­ga­ni­za­tion to fur­ther ex­pand its reach.

WWD: What was your last role in the in­dus­try?

Peter Arnold: I was at Cush­nie & Ochs as their ceo. I don’t have a lin­ear ca­reer path. I started as a lawyer with a Wall Street firm and Fern Mal­lis was leav­ing the CFDA and the search com­mit­tee was look­ing within the in­dus­try and had a rel­a­tively short list. My name got men­tioned and I made a big ca­reer leap to the CFDA. When I got there, I worked to fig­ure out the role of the or­ga­ni­za­tion and how it’s con­nected to all the con­stituents: the de­sign­ers and re­tail­ers and pub­lish­ers and ed­i­tors. So it was a great tran­si­tion for me. WWD: Was fash­ion al­ways some­thing that ap­pealed to you?

P.A.: I had al­ways wanted to get into the fash­ion space. Qui­etly when I was a lawyer, I worked with friends who were de­sign­ers and gave them un­of­fi­cial le­gal ad­vice, but the more se­nior you get as a lawyer, the more lim­ited your points of en­try can be and I didn’t want to be a gen­eral coun­sel or a lawyer at a fash­ion brand. So this op­por­tu­nity at CFDA came along and it was a great fork in the road for me and I never looked back. There, my chal­lenge was: let’s look at the mis­sion and make sure that help­ing Amer­i­can de­sign­ers suc­ceed is still what ev­ery­one wants this or­ga­ni­za­tion to be. In fact it was. So then it was: how do you de­liver on that and pro­gram­mat­i­cally give peo­ple some ben­e­fit for be­ing mem­bers. That was re­ally the task for me for five years. [While I was there, I started think­ing that] some­day I can lever­age this ex­pe­ri­ence and go to a fash­ion brand on the op­er­at­ing side — and that’s what came to pass.

WWD: So you joined John Var­vatos? P.A.: Yes. John re­cruited me so I went there as pres­i­dent. I stayed there for a while and then went to Cyn­thia Row­ley for eight years, and when the pri­vate eq­uity group made their in­vest­ment in Cush­nie, I joined Cush­nie.

WWD: And now you’re go­ing back to the non­profit world.

WWD: Who else will you be tar­get­ing? P.A.: Stitch Fix and Elo­quii and Ama­zon Fash­ion. They’re not as in­ured to buy­ing a ta­ble and go­ing to a gala as they would be to get­ting up some­thing that feels mean­ing­ful and sub­stan­tive and gives a longer-term con­nec­tion and a re­turn for the fund­ing you’re giv­ing. So I’m not trou­bled by the Beene sit­u­a­tion, but there’s work to be done. The board re­ally feels that this is the fu­ture and in the longer term we want to cre­ate a real en­dow­ment that has legs and a depth and a sta­bil­ity that al­lows us to do this sort of stuff in a big­ger way.

He aims to di­ver­sify fund­ing for the or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to ed­u­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of fash­ion ex­ec­u­tives.

WWD: What do you like best about YMA/FSF?

P.A.: Their mis­sion is very sim­ple and pure and clean: it’s ed­u­ca­tion, and ei­ther that checks your box or it doesn’t. And there are so many other or­ga­ni­za­tions out there for whom ed­u­ca­tion res­onates: from search firms to Bloomberg. Those sorts of foun­da­tions are all com­mit­ted to ed­u­cat­ing com­mu­ni­ties that are un­der­served but are in some way con­nected to fash­ion.

What I love is that it’s 65 schools but it’s not Par­sons School of De­sign and Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Pratt In­sti­tute only. It’s Spel­man and Morehouse and Columbia: it’s a great broad reach and de­liv­ers on the prom­ise of re­ally go­ing out there and reach­ing kids who may not have fig­ured it out yet. And there’s a huge alumni net­work, I think there are 1,500 FSF alums that are con­nected to schools and there’s a won­der­ful staff mem­ber who has worked there 12 years and also has re­la­tion­ships, which gives us lever­age.

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