the 72nd annual parsons benefit honors jeff gennette, angela ahrendts, gabriela hearst, kerby jean-raymond, travis scott, and carrie mae weems

Celebrating the 125th anniversary of Parsons, this year's Benefit will take place in-person and virtually on June 15, 2021 at Pier 17

Top Row: Jeff Gennette, Angela Ahrendts, Gabriela Hearst, photo by Michael Avedon
Bottom Row: Kerby Jean-Raymond, photo by Oumayma B Tanfous, Travis Scott, photo by Sharif Hamza, Carrie Mae Weems, photo by Rolex/Audoin Desforges

May 13, 2021, New York - The New School will host the 72nd annual Parsons Benefit, honoring visionary figures in fashion, technology and the arts that embody the university’s commitment to creativity, innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity. The evening recognizes Jeff Gennette, Chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc.; Angela Ahrendts DBE, Former SVP of Apple Retail and CEO of Burberry; designer Gabriela Hearst; designer Kerby Jean-Raymond; multi-platinum selling artist and innovator Travis Scott; and artist Carrie Mae Weems. Celebrating Parsons School of Design's 125th anniversary, the Parsons Benefit will take place on June 15, 2021 at The Rooftop at Pier 17 in the Seaport District, New York, New York, and will also be streamed virtually.

This year’s honorees are being celebrated for their numerous contributions to design, retail, entrepreneurship, the arts, sustainability, and social justice, as well as their long-standing commitment to supporting and creating opportunities for future generations of artists and designers. The honorees are all innovative leaders in their respective industries, and believe in the transformative power of design, a core theme of The New School and Parsons’ mission, vision, and curriculum.

“We are thrilled to be honoring this diverse and creative group of leaders who are all visionaries in their respective industries, and for their deep commitment to the values that guide Parsons in everything we do,” said Rachel Schreiber, Executive Dean of The New School’s Parsons School of Design. “Parsons was founded upon the idea that design can change the world, and these exceptional honorees are reimagining the creative and commercial landscape in a way that will positively impact a range of disciplines for years to come.”

Parsons, one of the leading art and design schools in the world, hosts the Parsons Benefit each year to present and empower the next generation of fashion designers and to raise instrumental funds for student scholarships. Donors’ generosity through the Benefit supports education that enables students to pursue studies in art, design, liberal arts, music, technology, and social innovation.

“On behalf of our Macy’s, Inc. organization, I am grateful to be included among this group of distinguished honorees and accept the Parsons Table Award,” said Macy’s Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette. “There is a deep and long-standing relationship between Macy’s and Parsons School of Design. To further that legacy, we are honored to announce the newly created Macy’s Endowed Scholarship Fund for Parsons School of Design that will benefit Parsons undergraduate students of color, supporting them on their path toward becoming the design leaders of tomorrow."

"I'm incredibly proud to be honored by Parsons, alongside a group of brilliant creatives, and entrepreneurs,” said Angela Ahrendts. “Throughout my career, I have championed fashion and design as a force for positive social change, so I'm thrilled to be recognized by an institution that aligns with my values and principles."

“The team and I are so grateful for this recognition from Parsons, one of the most prestigious design schools in the world,” said Gabriela Hearst, Founder and Creative Director of Gabriela Hearst. “But most of all humbled that we are awarded for what fuels our mission, the daily quest on creating a design house that is in balance with our environment and protects one another.”

“Parsons is well known for empowering creatives to change the world for the better through design, so it's a special honor to be recognized by the institution for making a difference through my work as a designer, I'm extremely grateful,” said Kerby Jean-Raymond. “It has always been my goal to leave the world a better place than I found it and to encourage future generations to create the change they wish to inspire.”

“I’m very excited to be receiving this honor from The New School and grateful to be a part of this group of innovators,” said Travis Scott. “I’ve always tried to fuse fashion, technology and the arts into everything I do. These are all linked and a natural extension of my work. It has never been about specific brands or labels for me. It’s about the vision. It’s about making your own things, seeing what’s out there, and never compromising.” 

"I am humbled and honored to be the first visual artist to receive the Parsons Table Award,” said Carrie Mae Weems. “I have always believed in the power of art to institute cultural and political change and I am grateful to be recognized for my work as an artist among such a talented and visionary group of leaders and creatives.”

Jeff Gennette, Angela Ahrendts, Gabriela Hearst, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Travis Scott, and Carrie Mae Weems join an esteemed list of past honorees. From Donna Karan, Jason Wu, and Vera Wang, LVMH to Neiman Marcus, Pharrell and Rihanna to Sarah Jessica Parker, Solange, and Gucci’s Marco Bizzarri, The New School celebrates the creativity and vision of past, present, and future leaders.

Liz Rodbell, Steve Madden Group President, and Gena Smith, SVP Human Resources & Head of Global Executive & Creative Recruitment, LVMH Inc., serve as the Parsons Benefit Co-Chairs. This year’s Parsons Benefit will also include a presentation of student work from programs throughout Parsons.

About the honorees:

Jeff Gennette
Jeff Gennette is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Macy’s, Inc. which includes the Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Bluemercury brands. 

Gennette has been CEO of Macy's, Inc. since March 2017 and assumed the role of chairman in February 2018. Gennette previously held the role of president of Macy's, Inc. from 2014 through August 2017.  Prior to that, he was the chief merchandising officer of Macy's. In this role, Gennette oversaw Macy’s merchandise assortment and marketing strategy – both in stores and online. 

Gennette began his retail career in 1983 as an executive trainee at Macy’s West in San Francisco. He held positions of increasing responsibility, including vice president and division merchandise manager for men’s collections and senior vice president and general merchandise manager for men’s and children’s. In 2004, Gennette was appointed executive vice president and director of stores at Macy’s Central in Atlanta. From February 2006 to February 2008, Gennette served as chairman and chief executive officer of Seattle-based Macy’s Northwest. Gennette returned to San Francisco from February 2008 to February 2009 as chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s West. 

Gennette is the chairman of the NRF Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the NRF Board of Directors, and Executive and Finance Committees. He was appointed to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of The Partnership for New York City, and serves on the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, Governing Committee for Racial Equity and Education Sub-Committee.

Angela Ahrendts DBE
Angela Ahrendts DBE was most recently Senior Vice President, Apple Retail based in Cupertino, CA. During her five years, she integrated Apple's physical and  digital businesses to create a seamless customer journey for over a billion visitors a  year. Under her leadership she redesigned the stores and recrafted the roles for  70,000 globally. She also reimagined the retail experience with the launch of a  transformative educational program focused on coding, music creation and the arts.

Prior to Apple, Angela relocated to London to join Burberry where she served as Chief Executive Officer for nearly nine years. She led the company through a period of phenomenal global growth repositioning Burberry as a global luxury  brand. Her unique leadership style and focus on culture, values and purpose resulted in tripling the business and quadrupling the share price. During her tenure, she was a member of the UK’s Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, and named Honorary Dame Commander of the British Empire.  

Prior to Burberry, Angela spent 25 years in New York serving as Executive Vice President, Liz Claiborne Inc., where she oversaw the acquisition and integration of over 25 brands. Earlier in her career she was President, Donna Karan International at the height of their global expansion and IPO. 

Angela is currently on the Board of Ralph Lauren Corporation., Airbnb, Inc., and  WPP plc. She is also on the non-profit Boards of charity: water, and the HOW Institute for Society; and in January 2021 became Chair of the Board, Save the Children International. She is a member of the Global Leadership Council of the Oxford University Saïd Business School and the BritishAmerican Business Advisory Board. 

Angela has consistently been recognized by Forbes, Fortune and the BBC as a Top 100 Global Executive. In 2010, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letter from her alma mater, Ball State University. In 2019, Angela was honored with an Indiana Living Legends award.

Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela honored her family’s heritage through the launch of her eponymous label in Fall 2015 after taking over the operations of her father’s ranch in Uruguay. She wanted to create a brand that reflects a slower pace and process: where things are made with care and detail, where tradition is more important than trend, where there is a purpose to every piece. Gabriela’s commitment is to make a strong and modern collection without compromising her ethics and key values, taking into consideration where materials come from and who is making them: luxury with a conscience, or in other words, “honest luxury”. In 2018, Gabriela was appointed to the board of trustees of Save the Children. The Gabriela Hearst Flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York opened in November 2018, the London store on Brook street opened August 2019. For the Spring Summer 2020 collection, shown in New York in September 2019,  Gabriela Hearst produced the first ever carbon neutral runway show. She is the winner of the 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize for Womenswear, 2018 recipient of the Pratt Institute Fashion Visionary Award, and 2020 recipient of the Frank Alvah Parsons Award. In 2020, she won the American Womenswear Designer of the Year Award at the CFDA Fashion Awards. The British Fashion Council awarded Gabriela as an Environment Honoree for her contribution in creating positive change within the industry at the 2020 Fashion Awards. In December 2020 Hearst was appointed the new Creative Director for Chloé.

Kerby Jean-Raymond
Kerby Jean-Raymond is a Black Artist and the founder of fashion label Pyer Moss. 

He entered the fashion industry at age 14 under an apprenticeship with designer Kay Unger. After years as a Designer and Pattern Maker, Jean-Raymond launched Pyer Moss in 2013, a celebrated label he describes as a “timely social experiment" that intersects fashion, the arts, and activism to produce thought-provoking storytelling as cause for sociocultural change. 

In the short time since its creation, Jean-Raymond’s Pyer Moss has amassed support from press, industry professionals and consumers from around the world. Pyer Moss continues to redefine itself every season with collections and seasonal drops that combine debate, theatre, nostalgic themes and social commentary; all while using collaboration with artists and brands as a medium to further the dialogue around distinct themes. 

Throughout his storied career Jean-Raymond has accumulated commendations for his many interests. As a fine artist, Jean-Raymond’s sculpture “Aquos” was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. He has also served as Director on several critically acclaimed film projects with other talented artists and musicians. In 2018, Jean-Raymond won the top honor at the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Awards. The following year, 2019, he was named Footwear News Person of the Year and listed on TIME’s 100 Next list credited as an emerging leader shaping the fashion industry and the future. In 2020, he was awarded Harlem Fashion Row’s Designer of the Year and CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year. 

Jean-Raymond has consistently used his creativity and expanding platforms to raise awareness on social justice issues such as racism, police brutality and mental health, and to combat corporate interests that have a history of appropriation and suppression. Through Pyer Moss’ Exist to Resist platform Jean-Raymond has amplified the messages of those marginalized by society and uplifted the voices of non-profit organizations including Innocence Project, Rock the Vote, and The Marsha P. Johnson Foundation while also donating to each cause. In 2020, Jean-Raymond partnered with Kering to launch Your Friends in New York, a platform designed to empower the next generation of innovators and creators. 

For the past four years, Jean-Raymond has worked with Reebok on the groundbreaking Reebok by Pyer Moss collaboration. In 2020, Jean-Raymond became Global Creative Director for Reebok where he provides creative leadership across all design disciplines.

Travis Scott
Grammy nominated artist and innovator Travis Scott is undeniably one of the most creative visionaries in the world. Travis is one of the top hip hop artists of this generation from the release of his first album “Rodeo” to the astronomical triple platinum album “Astroworld” and the “JACKBOYS” compilation album. Travis Scott created the original song “The Plan” for Tenet, the new sci-fi action spectacle from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, and produced by composer Ludwig Göransson, Wondagurl and Scott. Travis is also the CEO of his own label, Cactus Jack, which is home to Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, and Chase B. Beyond music, Travis has paved his own way as one of the most sought out talent for brands, earning partnerships with Playstation, Fortnite, McDonald’s, Byredo, Nike, and more! In addition to working with other brands, Travis founded his own agave spiked seltzer brand CACTI as his own beverage venture in partnership with Anheuser-Busch. In 2020 Travis founded the Cactus Jack Foundation where he has partnerships with the Parsons School of Design to create his own fashion program, launched his own HBCU Scholarship Program and partners with the city of Houston and other organizations for several Cactus Jack Foundation Emergency relief drives, including the launch of a Houston Winter Frieze Emergency Relief food Program serving 50,000 people across 30 zip codes throughout the year impacting 100,000 people.

CACTUS JACK FOUNDATION - The mission of the Cactus Jack Foundation is to empower and enrich the lives of youth by providing access to education and creative resources to ensure long term success. The foundation believes the youth should not be prevented from attaining their lifetime goal and is committed to extending educational opportunities to all, regardless of their circumstances to achieve their dreams.

Carrie Mae Weems
Through image and text, film and performance, and her many convenings with individuals across a multitude of disciplines, Carrie Mae Weems has created a complex body of work that centers on her overarching commitment to helping us better understand our present moment by examining our collective past.     

Weems has received a multitude of awards, grants, and fellowships including the MacArthur Award; US Department of State’s Medals of Arts; Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome; the National Endowment of the Arts; and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, among many others. 

Major solo exhibitions of Carrie’s work include Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2014), and Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, and traveled to: Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2013 - 2014. 

She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Tate Modern, London, England; the Museum of Modern Art, NY and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. 

Ms. Weems is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery and is currently Artist in Residence at the Park Avenue Armory and Syracuse University. She lives in Syracuse, New York with her husband Jeffrey Hoone who is Executive Director of Light Work.

Table sponsorships and individual tickets for the gala evening are available by contacting [email protected]. Visit our website for more information.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

Parsons School of Design at The New School is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.


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