Trustee Jennifer Abrams ’91 on the importance of giving back

February 8, 2016
Jennifer Abrams, Clark University alumna

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer R. Abrams ’91 graduated from Clark with a degree in art history and urban geography and has been on the move since. She’s worked for Calvin Klein, Armani, The Limited and Ann Taylor, and prior to her career in fashion worked at Christie’s, the Guggenheim Museum and the Phillips Collection.

Jennifer has been at Ralph Lauren for 10 years and is currently the Vice President of Travel Retail, developing duty-free stores globally for both the Polo and Ralph Lauren brands. Previously, she launched the Chaps women’s RTW division as well as Chaps International. But Jennifer remains committed to her alma mater. In 2012, on the annual spring ballot, she was elected to a six-year term as an Alumni Elected Trustee on the Clark University Board of Trustees.

The Washington, D.C. native and longtime resident of New York City recently moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where we caught up with her to ask a few questions about her experience as a trustee and the board’s mission to continually strengthen Clark University.

What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a trustee? I’ve enjoyed working with passionate people from different professions, whether it’s finance, education, or the nonprofit sector. These are people who bring their expertise together as a Board of Trustees, all dedicated to a common goal of making Clark the best it can be. Being able to give back to an institution that helped shape me is also a rewarding experience. The professors at Clark invested in me, taught me how to think critically and challenged me to realize my potential.

Tell us about what projects you are working on as a trustee? Why should the greater alumni community care? As an institution, we’ve seen our U.S. News & World Report ranking jump from 94 to 75 in the past four years. I want to see that momentum build, and I’m confident that our combined efforts will help continue our positive trend. There are many amazing projects the board is working on, and alumni have a stake in all of them. Increasing the level of alumni engagement with the University in a more substantive way is critical, and I encourage our alumni to work closely with the Office of Alumni & Friends Engagement and the Alumni Association to identify opportunities for impactful engagement. We all have a role in enhancing our alumni connection with Clark.

What do you hope to accomplish as an Alumni Elected Trustee this academic year? I want to create ways for people to connect with Clark University in an authentic way. I look forward to continuing our collective work in developing opportunities for alumni, parents and friends to interact with each other and engage with the University.

How has the experience of serving as an Alumni Elected Trustee made a difference to you? My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back. As an Alumni Elected Trustee, I’ve been given a unique opportunity to carry on that tradition, whether that’s through time, effort or money. I’ve found giving back has enriched my life and made it more meaningful.