Vanessa Williams to Receive 2011 Icon of Style Award at Syracuse University's New York City Gala
Fashion Event Article Posted May 2, 2011

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Vanessa Williams, a renowned actress, recording artist and 1985 Syracuse University alumna, will be honored with the 2011 Icon of Style Award at the New York City gala of Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) on Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m. at JPMorgan Chase, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, 60th floor.

The event will also honor JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Administrative Officer Frank Bisignano, who will receive the college's Dean's Award of Distinction. Special guests for the evening are SU men's basketball Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and his wife, Juli.

The gala includes a 6 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. fashion show at One Chase Manhattan Plaza featuring the top collections from fashion design seniors in VPA's Department of Design, followed by an 8:30 p.m. benefit dinner for the college at the Vault at Bobby Van's Steakhouse, 25 Broad St.

Williams and Bisignano will receive their awards at the fashion show and be honored guests at the benefit dinner. Juli Boeheim, who is known for her elegant sense of style as well as dedication to the Central New York community through the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation and other charitable organizations, will co-present the Icon of Style Award to Williams with VPA Dean Ann Clarke. The Boeheims will also be special guests at the benefit dinner; Jim Boeheim will give remarks.

The Icon of Style Award honors SU alumni who are bold, innovative and visionary in the world of fashion. Williams, who exhibits impeccable style both on and off stage and screen, will join a prestigious group of past recipients, including Stephanie Solomon, operating vice president for fashion direction for women's ready-to-wear at Bloomingdale's; designer Henry Grethel; and Emme, a prominent model, author, lecturer, clothing designer and women's advocate.

The Dean's Award of Distinction is presented to individuals who, in their careers and service to the college and community, exhibit the values expressed in the mission and vision of VPA.

VPA held its first New York City fashion show in 2008 to showcase the high quality of design and craftsmanship created at SU to designers and the media in New York. The designs featured in this year's show will be selected by a jury of both fashion and retail industry professionals—including Solomon—and VPA faculty and staff.

Tickets are $500 for all gala events, which includes prime seating at the fashion show and benefit dinner; $95 for general admission to the reception and fashion show only; and $44 for general admission to the reception and fashion show only for SU alumni who graduated from '02-'11. Tickets may be purchased online at or by contacting Cynthia Jones at (315) 443-7095. Seating is limited. For sponsorship information, contact Jeffry Comanici at (315) 443-9727 or

Learn more about the gala at

About Vanessa Williams

Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today. She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures. She has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, and she has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television. Williams' albums "The Right Stuff," "The Comfort Zone" and "The Sweetest Days" earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and have yielded such classic hits as "Save the Best For Last," "Dreamin," "Work To Do," "Love Is" and the Academy Award-winning single "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's "Pocahontas," among many others. She took Broadway by storm in 1994 when she replaced Chita Rivera in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," winning the hearts of critics and becoming a box-office sensation. She garnered rave reviews and was nominated for a Tony Award for the 2002 revival of "Into the Woods." She recently starred to rave reviews in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's new Broadway musical "Sondheim on Sondheim." Williams made her film debut in 1986 in "Under the Gun." She has starred in such features as "Eraser," "Hoodlum," "Soul Food," "Dance With Me," "Light It Up," "Shaft" and "Johnson Family Vacation." She starred recently in the independent features "My Brother" and "Somebody Like You" and co-starred in Disney's feature film "Hannah Montana: The Movie." This past fall, Williams moved to Wisteria Lane as the newest resident on ABC's "Desperate Housewives," where she stars as Renee Perry. She previously starred as Wilhelmina Slater in ABC's critically acclaimed hit series "Ugly Betty," earning three Emmy Award nominations in addition to numerous individual and ensemble awards and nominations, including SAG Awards, Golden Globes and NAACP Image Awards. In December, the International Press Academy honored Williams with its prestigious Mary Pickford Award for her career achievements and contributions to the entertainment industry over the past 27 years. In 2007, she achieved a career pinnacle with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her accomplishments as a performer. Her charitable endeavors are many and varied, embracing and supporting such organizations as Special Olympics and many others.

About Frank Bisignano

As the chief administrative officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bisignano is responsible for the Chase Home Lending business. He is a member of the firm's Operating Committee, the senior-most leadership group at the company. His chief administrative officer responsibilities include overseeing technology, real estate, operations, procurement, resiliency, global security and general services for all of JPMorgan Chase's businesses in more than 60 countries. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase in 2005, Bisignano was the chief executive officer for Citigroup's Global Transactions Services business and a member of Citigroup's Management Committee. Under his leadership from 2002-05, Global Transaction Services grew from $500 million in revenue to $1.6 billion in revenue and expanded to operate in more than 100 countries. Bisignano was also the chief administrative officer for Citigroup's Corporate and Investment Bank, a senior executive vice president and Citigroup's firm-wide deputy head of technology and operations. He held this post during the 9/11 crisis and is credited with creating and executing Citigroup's successful business continuity plan, involving relocating 16,000 employees displaced by the loss of 1.3 million square feet in 7 World Trade Center. At Smith Barney, Bisignano helped lead and integrate the firm's series of strategic acquisitions that led to the formation of Citigroup. Prior to his career at Citi, he worked at First Fidelity Bank (1990-1994). Born and raised in Brooklyn, Bisignano serves on the nonprofit boards of NPower, PENCIL, the Borough of Manhattan Community College Foundation and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. He is also a trustee for The Battery Conservancy and St. Patrick's Cathedral. He was previously vice chairman of the Options Clearing Corp. and a board member for the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., the Alliance for Downtown New York and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. About SU's fashion design program Focused on design and creative development, VPA's fashion design program offers an intellectually stimulating environment with a global perspective. This, coupled with practical and theoretical skills, technology and the study of the cultural context in which fashion exists, provides a broad-based education in fashion. In addition to Emme, Grethel and Solomon, notable alumni from SU and the fashion design program include Betsey Johnson, Donald Brooks, Tom and Linda Platt, Lisa Kline and Danna Weiss.

You may also have interest in reading one of the previous fashion event article from May 2009 here on the Apparel Search about the Henry Grethel 2009 Icon of Style Award at Syracuse University.  You also may have interest in reading about Stephanie Solomon Fashion Director for Bloomindales Visiting Syracuse University back in 2010.

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