American Apparel and Footwear Association

we wear our mission

AAFA is a powerful source of intelligence and catalyst for change in addressing the external forces that are important to the U.S. apparel and footwear industry.

in the spotlight

Check out AAFA's events across the topics of trade, intellectual property and brand protection, supply chain, and more. Events Calendar > 

legislative action

Now is the time to contact Congress to tell them why you oppose the Border Adjustment Tax. Click here to send an email to your elected representatives urging action on trade.

Meet Our Team

 

AAFA Main Line: (202) 853-9080
 

 

 

Leadership Team

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Rick Helfenbein
President and Chief Executive Officer

Rick Helfenbein is president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the national trade association representing more than 1,000 brands in the apparel, footwear, and accessories industry. Rick became president and CEO in February of 2016 and leads the association and its operations. 

Previously, Rick was president of all USA operations for Luen Thai Holding Limited. Luen Thai is the largest publicly listed apparel manufacturing and supply chain services company on the Hong Kong Exchange. The company manufactures clothing, shoes, and accessories for some of the most recognized brands in the industry, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Adidas, and Michael Kors. Prior to his appointment, Rick was Chairman of the AAFA Board of Directors from March 2014 to February 2016, and had served on the board of directors since 2008.

Rick has more than 40 years of experience in the apparel, footwear, and accessories industry, and has been credited as being one of the creators of the original Le Tigre brand plus helping to engineer the split between Izod and Lacoste. He also introduced Burlington Industries to the apparel market and has extensive experience with manufacturing in the USA, Asia, and Latin America both from an apparel and textile perspective. Rick holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton Business School. He participates in the Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing at Wharton and Harvard. 

P: (202) 853-9080
 

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Stephen Lamar
Executive Vice President

As Executive Vice President, and as liaison to AAFA’s Government Contracts Committee, AAFA’s Government Relations Committee, and AAFA’s Brand Protection Council, Stephen E. Lamar is responsible for the design and execution of AAFA lobbying strategies on a series of issues covering government procurement, counterfeiting/intellectual property rights, international trade, market access, customs, labor, environment, and product safety. In these roles, Steve also advises AAFA member companies on legislation and regulatory policies affecting the clothing and footwear industries. In addition, Steve serves as the liaison to AAFA’s Legwear Committee. Prior to AAFA, Steve was a trade analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Before joining the Commerce Department, Steve served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the southern African country of Botswana. Steve is President of the Washington International Trade Association. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Colgate University and a Master of Arts Degree in International Affairs (with a concentration on African politics and international trade) from George Washington University.

P: (202) 853-9347
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Maureen Storch
Senior Vice President, Membership

Maureen Storch joined AAFA in 2007 and is responsible for membership growth and retention, as well as initiatives that strengthen AAFA’s presence in the industry. Maureen oversees operational programs related to membership and serves on the Boards of Directors of the AAFA Education Foundation and the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. Under Maureen’s leadership, AAFA has welcomed more than 300 new companies into AAFA’s apparel and footwear membership base. In addition, Maureen was instrumental in assimilating the Hosiery Association in 2013. Maureen has extensive executive management experience within the apparel industry. Prior to AAFA, Maureen co-founded Global Nexus, Inc., which provided international marketing and sourcing consultants to the apparel and textile industries and served as its CEO. Prior to Global Nexus, Maureen served as Director of Global Operations for ASAP Global Sourcing, where she developed and managed alliances with apparel manufacturers and associations. Maureen also worked at Tommy Hilfiger as the National Sales Manager and the Coca-Cola apparel brand managing sales and marketing. She began her career as a Sales Representative with the Merona Sport Division of Oxford Industries. Maureen is married with four children and resides in Great Falls, Virginia.

P: (202) 853-9343
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Susan Lapetina
Senior Vice President, Education and Corporate Marketing

Susan Lapetina leads AAFA’s education, programming, and special events initiatives. An experienced executive in meetings, events, marketing, and strategic planning, she directs the association’s signature events, the Executive Summit, Hong Kong Summit, American Image Awards, as well as AAFA’s Board meetings. Susan launched AAFA’s international training conference series throughout Asia and built its webinar platform. Spearheading AAFA’s Elite sponsor program, Susan works closely with supplier members to bring them visibility and recognition among association members. Before joining AAFA in 1999, she was Principal of Marketing Evolutions, a strategic planning services firm focused on associations and nonprofits. She also served as the Director of Marketing at the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the American Society of Landscape Architects. A graduate of Canisius College, Susan is originally from upstate New York.

P: (202) 853-9346
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Arthur Ganta
Chief Financial Officer

Arthur Ganta joined AAFA in June 2015. An experienced finance professional, Arthur brings expertise in strategic planning and association management. Arthur oversees budgeting, auditing, finance, investments, reporting, and human resources for the association. Prior to joining AAFA, Arthur worked for a number of trade and professional associations including the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, Fairfax Education Association, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the National Association of Conservation Districts. Most recently, Arthur served as Chief of Finance and Administration at the American Society for Public Administration. Arthur holds an MBA from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in Chemistry and minor in Physics, from Spicer Memorial College in Poona, India. He is also a Certified Association Executive.

P: (202) 853-9352
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Nate Herman
Senior Vice President, Supply Chain

Nate Herman oversees AAFA’s government relations department, managing the association’s lobbying, policy, and regulatory affairs activities. Nate leads AAFA’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, formulating and implementing CSR policy and representing AAFA and the industry on CSR issues before governments, NGOs, and other key stakeholders. Nate also leads the association’s work on sustainability, transportation, logistics, and customs issues. In addition, Nate develops all apparel and footwear industry data and statistics as AAFA's resident economist. Prior to joining AAFA, Nate worked for six years at the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration assisting U.S. firms in entering the global market. Nate spent the last two years as the Department's industry analyst for the footwear and travel goods industries. Nate received a Masters of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994 and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Economics from the University of Delaware in 1992.

P: (202) 853-9351
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Communications and Marketing

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Natalie LaBella
Director of Communications and Marketing

Natalie LaBella drives integrated marketing communications across the association. In this capacity, Natalie manages AAFA’s publications, marketing of membership events, and other key initiatives. She brings expertise to the association in the areas of program management, marketing and brand integrity, and advocacy. Prior to joining AAFA, she served as a consultant to the National Restaurant Association’s Government Affairs & Policy division where she managed sustainability efforts and partnerships within the restaurant industry. She has also supported the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Natalie holds a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University, Bloomington and an advanced certificate in marketing from the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.

 

P: (202) 853-9348
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Communications and Marketing Coordinator

As Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Alexander develops and implements integrated marketing communication activities for the association. Alexander supports AAFA publications, events, and other communications initiatives across AAFA’s core areas of brand protection, supply chain management, and trade policy. Additionally, he leads media relations activities for the association. Prior to joining AAFA, Alexander spent four years as an account associate at Warschawski, a boutique marketing communications agency. At Warschawski, he worked on several client accounts in the luxury apparel and footwear industry, developing integrated campaigns and managing media relations. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Mount St. Mary’s University. 

P: (202) 853-9356
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Finance and Administration

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Darrell Sumpter
Senior Office Manager/Staff Accountant

Darrell Sumpter is responsible for the daily operations of AAFA and maintaining a safe and secure working environment. Darrell purchases and maintains all equipment and supplies. He is the liaison with the property manager and the technology vendor in maintaining the computer network and desktop support. In addition, he provides accounting support for accounts receivable and subscription renewals.

P: (202) 853-9341
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Government Relations

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Reem Kuhail
Program Manager/Governance Liaison

Reem Kuhail is responsible for managing and facilitating the administration of the office of the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President and handles all Board governance activities. Reem is also responsible for managing and executing the logistics for AAFA’s Policy Committee Meetings. She also provides back-up logistical support to the Education and Corporate Marketing Department. Reem also supports other departments by facilitating cross-organization communication and cooperation. Reem graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

 

P: (202) 853-9349
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Kristen Kern
Government Relations Representative

As a Government Relations Representative, Kristen leads the AAFA sustainability portfolio as a liaison to AAFA’s Environmental Committee and supports the Social Responsibility Committee and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) portfolio, leading special projects in the Denim Finishing Working Group and Homeworker Working Group. She also supports the Brand Protection portfolio. Prior to joining AAFA, Kristen worked as an intern for AAFA, assisting with CSR reports, presentations, and industry news. Kristen holds bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising and Design, and French with a minor in Chemistry from Virginia Tech.

P: (202) 853-9358
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Education and Corporate Marketing

 

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Corinne Suder, CMP
Director, Education and Corporate Marketing

 

Corinne Suder is an experienced meeting and event planner, responsible for managing and executing the logistics for AAFA’s domestic and international conferences, seminars, and committee meetings. She also produces one of AAFA’s signature C-suite programs, the Executive Summit. Prior to joining AAFA, she spent nearly ten years with the National Football League Players Association as Programs Manager of the Retired Players Department. Corinne is married with three children and resides in St. Leonard, Maryland.

 

P: (202) 853-9342
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Megan Balkovic
Sponsorship Development Manager,  Education and Corporate Marketing

Megan Balkovic, Sponsorship Development Manager, is an experienced association professional. She supports AAFA’s Elite Sponsor program, fosters sponsor development, and facilitates webinars. Prior to joining AAFA, Megan directed the governance, volunteer, and membership programs for the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.  She also spent eight years cultivating corporate and individual sponsorships and managing pre-college engineering and math education programs with the Junior Engineering Technical Society and MATHCOUNTS Foundation. Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

P: (202) 853-9354
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Katie Gissendanner
Program Specialist, Education and Corporate Marketing

Katie Gissendanner joined AAFA in 2017 after spending nearly five years working at the American Chemistry Council. As Program Specialist with the Education & Corporate Marketing department, she contributes to training events, online workshops, webinars, and special programs presented both domestically and internationally. Katie works across all departments to ensure the members needs are addressed in ways that provide them a platform to engage and interact with AAFA and other association members. Katie is a Northern Virginia native only leaving to attend and graduate from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandizing.

P: (202) 853-9344
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Membership

 
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Sarah Vincent
Senior Manager of Database Operations 

Sarah Vincent oversees the accuracy and integrity of the membership database as well as provides support to the Government Relations and Education and Corporate Marketing departments. She handles reporting, database design, and website integration. She has held similar positions at the Licensing Executive Society (USA and Canada) and the American Alliance of Museums.

P: (202) 853-9340
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