Mrs. Rena Rowan :
One of the most successful businesswoman of our time, and one of the highest paid executive executive women in America, Rena Rowan
is renowned as the fashion designer that introduced classic coordinated sportswear to the U.S. market.She
is also a leading philanthropist, addressing some of the most important problems of our time. Until early 2000, she was Executive Vice President of Jones New York, supervising design, patternmaking and production fittings for all Jones Apparel Group labels.Her
classic style, insistence on high quality an superior fit continue to be the trademarks of Jones New York and have helped Jones become the multi-million dollar company that it is today. Rena began design work as a student at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in the early 1950's.
Soon after, she
entered the world of fashion as a model and designer for the eminent Philadelphia designer Gustave Tassell. In 1958, Rena accepted a position as a sleepwear designer with Youtheme Lingerie in Wilmington, Delaware.Two years later, she joined Cinderella Dresses in Philadelphia and designed children's fashions from 1960 to 1966.
In 1966, pursuing her
interest in a more sophisticated market, Rena
left to become a designer of women's sportswear at Villager, also in Philadelphia.
With headquarters in Bristol, PA, showrooms in New York, and manufacturing plants worldwide, Jones New York continues to prosper, reflecting the markets steady and enthusiastic responses to the classic career sportswear designed by Rena Rowan
While successful in business, Rena
has never forgotten her
difficult beginnings.Born in Uda, Poland, Rena
was exiled to Siberia for three years during World War II with her
mother and sister, separated from their father, who was also deported.After escaping to Teehkent, the family was reunited in Iran, but a tragic accident killed her
father in early 1944.Rena's mother and sister went on to Lebanon and later to England.Rena
married an American officer and came to the United States in 1945.Her
four children were born here; after a divorce she
began making clothes for her
neighbors and friends to earn money to support her
family.This necessity brought out her
talent in design and led her
to the fashion industry.
In 1988, Rena
married Vic Damone, and today she
is devoting her
time and energy to help others who are oppressed by government forces or must overcome great difficulties to build a family life.In 1980, when Russia imposed martial law on Poland, she
organized a drive throughout the apparel industry to collect warm clothing for the Catholic Relief Services.In 1993, she began a volunteer organization, Rena Rowan Foundation for the homeless and opened Rowan House and Rowan Home, to help mothers and their children become self-sufficient and independent.Rena currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Philadelphia University, American Center for Polish Culture, American Red Cross, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work.She
was the recipient of the 1998 Paradigm Award from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
, and the Elizabeth Dole "Glass Ceiling" Award from the American Red Cross
was honored by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
in their Salute to Philadelphia Super Achievers and she
was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Freedom Valley Girl Scouts.Rena
is also an active supporter of the Shoah Foundation and the Holocaust Museum
.The Rena Rowan Breast Center
, for cancer treatment and research, opened October 2000 at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
often quotes her
father, who told his
young daughter to take "bold steps" in life and to always have dreams.