This president is opening the doors for creative leaders to get their big start!

Serving since 1998, Dr. Joyce F. Brown has held the title of president at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Dr. Brown is also the first Black and female president to hold the position. Throughout Dr. Brown’s career trajectory she strives to empower and transform the lives of the youth, placing education, and opportunity at the forefront.

Plus, Dr. Brown’s most recent efforts continue to be a reflection of her commitment to a more progressive society for the future generation of industry leaders. Students attending FIT are being further supported after the announcement of The Social Justice Center (SJC), which aims to diversify and strengthen the employment pipeline for minority communities.

For Dr. Brown, the move is timely as she recalls various funds being thrown at issues disproportionately affecting Black communities following George Floyd’s death. Despite backing from businesses, corporations, and individuals, Dr. Brown believed there were not enough sustainable infrastructures.

“I could see people were throwing money at this suddenly newly recognized problem of racism in America, and people were starting to talk about the disparities of progress for equally qualified people of color,“ Dr. Brown told AfroTech exclusively.

She continued: “People were recognizing the mission of those institutions but I did not see any program of support or infrastructure to ensure the progress for people of color and help change the behaviors that were creating the obstacles.”

The Social Justice Center Connects Students To The Creative Industry

Brown wanted to ensure students attending FIT would find success after their season at the institution was complete by opening doors within creative industries.

According to a press release sent to AfroTech, the SJC aims to advance social equity and opportunity within the creative industries for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. Students will receive scholarships, mentorship, training, and professional career support.

“We are trying to be holistic in terms of how we approach bringing students and young people in and creating an environment where they can be successful both here and professionally,” Brown said.

The Social Justice Center Partners

The SJC was supported by several founding partners including PVH Corp., Capri Holdings Limited, and Tapestry, Inc., who each pledged one million dollars. What’s more, G-III Apparel Group established the SJC Scholarship Fund, which has already garnered over $1.5 million to support students. Other donors to SJC were Carolina Herrera, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Saks, Target, and The Fragrance Foundation.

“It would be foolish to do all this for the youth and send them to an environment that created or reinforced these obstacles,” Brown said. “So, it’s very important that we work with the companies at the same time to change some of those practices, change how they recruit, change how they recognize talent, and change how they evaluate people for professional advancement in the company.”

She continued: “There are a lot of behavioral things that need to happen and that is why I’m encouraged by the willingness of these companies to be partners with us on this. I think that demonstrates a real desire for change.”



The Social Justice Center Focuses On Four Pillars

The Social Justice Center will focus on four pillars:

  • Working alongside leading corporate and non-profit CEOs devoted to removing barriers from middle school to the executive level
  • Ensuring talent, creativity, and knowledge is accessible to FIT students and faculty
  • Continuing funding for scholarships and program
  • Ensuring there is accountability to propel BIPOC professionals