WASHINGTON—The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) announces that Rick Helfenbein will step down from his role as president and CEO on Dec. 31, 2019. Current executive vice president Stephen Lamar will assume Helfenbein's position on Jan. 1, 2020.
Helfenbein has been involved with the AAFA for 14 years—10 of those years as a member, which included two years as chairman of the board of directors, and four years as president and CEO. In his role as CEO, Helfenbein advocated for the apparel and footwear industry. According to the association, this included an expansion of the Generalized System of Preferences program to include travel goods for the first time, calling out organizations for intellectual property theft, and sharing the industry's story with the public. He also led a rebranding of the organization and revitalized the American Image Awards.
AAFA Chairman Gary Simmons expresses gratitude on behalf of the organizations' board of directors: "Rick has led us through some of the most disruptive periods in recent memory—from the disastrous border adjustment tax to today's trade war with one of our most important trading partners. Throughout this time, he has advised the industry with charm and wit. At the same time, we are very excited to promote Stephen Lamar to the role of president and CEO. His foresight of potential risks and opportunities is unmatched. The Board is confident that he will bring continued success to the industry in this role," says Summons.
Lamar has more than 21 years of experience with the association, having served most of his time as executive vice president overseeing lobbying and association activities. During this time, Lamar has implemented measures to reduce or eliminate tariffs, support U.S. manufacturing, halt burdensome regulations, expand the industry’s corporate social responsibility efforts, and protect intellectual property rights at home and abroad.
"I am honored and excited to take on the role of president and CEO. In particular, I am grateful to Rick for his leadership and partnership through the years, and thankful to the Board for its vote of confidence," Lamar says. "I look forward to working with our team in Washington, and our members throughout the country, to achieve future wins and ensure that this industry can continue to grow and thrive."
Helfenbein adds, "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the leader of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. During my time as a member, I learned the essential work we do in Washington and around the world. It is with this background that I was able to prioritize initiatives and engage with our 1,000-plus brands. I am thrilled that the Board has chosen Stephen—whose passion for the industry and understanding of Washington is immeasurable.”
For more information, visit www.aafaglobal.org.