Designers, manufacturers, retailers, influencers, and collaborators all deserve a spotlight of their own!

In 2023 we were proud to recognize:

Company of the Year

New Balance Athletics, Inc.
Joe Preston, President and CEO, accepting

Joe Preston is President & CEO of New Balance Athletics, Inc., the leading $4 billion global sportswear brand with more than 7,500 associates and 3,500 retail locations worldwide.  Privately-held New Balance is recognized for its values-led culture and long-standing commitment to domestic manufacturing

Joe began his career at New Balance in 1995 and has more than 25 years of experience in the footwear industry.  At New Balance, he served in roles including Vice President, Asia Pacific; Executive Vice President International; Executive Vice President, Global Product & Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer before taking the role of President & CEO in 2018.

Joe earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Merrimack College and an MBA from Babson Graduate School of Business.

Joe is a member of the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy & Negotiations.  He serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Sports Museum, a non-profit educational institute that builds character in kids through the power of sports.  He is a board member of the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Two Ten Footwear Foundation and is a member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.


Learn more, in his own words.

Fashion Maverick

Harlem's Fashion Row
Brandice Daniel, CEO and Founder, accepting

Proud fashion outsider and Memphis native, Brandice Daniel, is founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) and ICON360. Her love for fashion began at an early age as she went along to the fabric store with her mother and spent hours reading Vogue magazine. She went on to study fashion merchandising at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. She has experience in production, securing sponsorships, and fashion buying and merchandising.

Brandice created HFR in 2007 to bridge the gap between multicultural designers and the fashion business by providing opportunities to showcase their skills and abilities in an industry that is often non-accessible to them through fashion shows and other events.

Throughout the years, Brandice has not slowed down and many have taken notice of her talent and growth. She has been featured in WWD, Harper’s Bazaar, NY Times, Good Morning America, ESSENCE Magazine, BET, Vogue, and more. Brandice has been a guest judge on Project Runway, a guest on the Drew Barrymore Show, and is a member of Gucci’s Changemakers Council. She’s also shared her talent as a speaker at Ted X Memphis, the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, and the Forbes CMO Summit.

Brandice has led collaborations, while creating opportunities for designers, with brands like Banana Republic, Janie and Jack, American Girl, and the most historic, Nike and Lebron James. The HFRxLBJ16 shoe was the first Lebron sneaker designed by and for women, and it sold out in less than five minutes.

Brandice’s faith is what has kept her grounded and the foundation of the success of HFR. Her life’s work has been based on not taking no for an answer. That’s why she became a cliff jumper, because when she takes that leap of faith, the possibilities are endless.

When she’s not being an entrepreneur, speaker, and author, she’s a wife to Rich and mother to her beautiful little Sky Grace.


As we count down to the awards, AAFA asked Brandice about her goals for 2023, HFR’s partnerships, and hurdles that she’s overcome.
Learn more, in her own words.

Designer of the Year

Willy Chavarria

Willy Chavarria, Creative Director & Designer, Willy Chavarria

Willy Chavarria was born in Fresno, California. With a focus on art and commerce, he studied graphic design at the Academy of the Arts and eventually found his home in the creation of fashion. At age 21 Willy began working for Nicholas Graham on the creation of Joe Boxer, and from there began to design cycling apparel for VOLER based in San Luis Obispo, California, which led to being tapped by Ralph Lauren to work on the launch of RLX.  

After a move to New York, Willy eventually designed across several categories at Ralph Lauren, which led to an opportunity to become the director of design for underwear, footwear, and accessories at American Eagle. While at American Eagle, Willy opened a retail store in SoHo called Palmer Trading Company and created a label under the same name that began to have a cult following in the US and in Japan, where a strong wholesale business was formed.  

This led to the launch of his own eponymous label in 2015 which had a more personal and expressive approach to branding and design.  

There is a sensitive and cinematic approach to the WILLY CHAVARRIA collections. His concept blends the emotion of art and modern politics into a reactionary story of the human will. The brand began to receive attention after creating controversial and poignant runway presentations. From here the brand began to be carried in renown retailers worldwide such as Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Browns.  

It also led to opportunities to work on other brands such as Calvin Klein, where Willy is now Senior Vice President of Design.  

Willy was named as a finalist for the International Woolmark Prize in 2018. In 2021, Willy was one of 10 winners of the CFDA Vogue Fashion fund. IMG and the state of New York announced Willy as one of ten recipients of a small business grant in 2022.

Go behind the scenes with us in Willy's own words.

Global Vanguard

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took office as WTO Director-General on 1 March 2021. She is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. Dr Okonjo-Iweala was formerly Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. She was previously on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. She was appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and WHO Special Envoy for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. She is a skilled negotiator and has brokered numerous agreements which have produced win-win outcomes in negotiations. She is regarded as an effective consensus builder and an honest broker enjoying the trust and confidence of governments and other stakeholders.

Previously, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala twice served as Nigeria's Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions. She distinguished herself by carrying out major reforms which improved the effectiveness of these two Ministries and the functioning of the government machinery. She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director, Operations. As a development economist and Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala steered her country through various reforms ranging from macroeconomic to trade, financial and real sector issues.

She is a firm believer in the power of trade to lift developing countries out of poverty and assist them to achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development. As Finance Minister, she was involved in trade negotiations with other West African countries and contributed to the overhaul of Nigeria's trade policy enabling it to enhance its competitiveness.

She is renowned as the first female and African candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group in 2012, backed by Africa and major developing countries in the first truly contestable race for the world's highest development finance post. As Managing Director of the World Bank, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank's $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Dr Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the World Bank's successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.

More with our press announcement.

Eco-Steward of the Year

William McDonough

William McDonough - Architect, designer, advisor, thought leader, and sustainability pioneer

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable design and development and is known as “the father of circularity.” Through McDonough Innovation, McDonough advises commercial and government leaders worldwide on ESG, sustainability, Circular Economy, and design of products and facilities. He has worked with companies such as DesignTex, Ralph Lauren and C&A on delivering safe and healthy products for the fashion and textile industry. He co-founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, which administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Program, an independent,
science-based, third-party, multi-attribute product standard recognized by the world’s leading retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Walgreens and Walmart. 

McDonough has been active with the World Economic Forum for 25 years and served as the inaugural chair of WEF Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. He articulated the Circular Carbon Economy as a design framework at G20, 2020 and is developing a granular approach to applying Circular Carbon Economy principles to products. He has co-founded not-for-profit organizations, including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, GreenBlue and Fashion for Good, a joint-industry initiative aiming to transform the global apparel supply chain into positive change. McDonough will be launching the McDonough Institute in early 2023. This institute will gather learnings, support talented individuals, develop critical innovation and accelerate planet- and people-positive sourcing and resourcing.

Time magazine has recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet,” and in 2019 Fortune magazine named him one of the World's Greatest Leaders.

Read on for additional insights around the circular economy, ESG initiatives, and more in his own words!



Segun Oduolowu

Segun Oduolowu is the proud son of Nigerian immigrant parents. He’s a Television Host, Entertainment Journalist and Media Personality. Segun is the host of “Boston Globe Today”, the televised & streamed news magazine show focused on taking an in-depth look at the stories of impact covered by the Boston Globe. He was formerly a correspondent for PEOPLE (The TV Show!), a nationally syndicated entertainment-newsmagazine television show which reported on behind-the-scenes stories in Hollywood, celebrity news, personal interest, and true crime stories. Prior to joining PEOPLE (The TV Show!), Segun hosted the nationally syndicated television show, The List. In addition to serving as a host, he wrote and produced several segments for the program. In 2021, in partnership with Bounce television network, Segun executive produced Protect or Neglect, a documentary focused on police brutality in underserved communities. He was also the co-host of the Facebook Watch program See It/Skip It, a weekly show produced by Rotten Tomatoes.

Over the years, he has appeared regularly on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, NBC News Now, REVOLT, Access Hollywood, The Wendy Williams Show and has contributed to international programs for CNN, the BBC, and Deutsche Welle. Segun was also a regular guest and contributor to the long-running HLN series, Dr. Drew on Call.

Outside of work, Segun is a family man. His amazing wife Aja, and their precocious daughter Ava are his working week and Sunday rest. With any remaining free time, he mentors young athletes and scholars. As a former collegiate basketball player at the University of Houston, he believes that without COMMITMENT you’ll never start, and without CONSISTENCY you’ll never finish.


Help us celebrate and honor their achievements!

Twitter Icon      Instagram Icon