Helfenbein Steps Down from AAFA
After 14 years of engagement with the American Apparel & Footwear Association, 10 as a member and four leading the organization, Rick Helfenbein announced that he will step down as the group’s president and chief executive officer. The Washington D.C.–based trade association represents more than 1,000 brands.
Helfenbein will serve until Dec. 31. Stephen Lamar will assume the roles of president and CEO on Jan. 1. With more than 21 years of experience with the AAFA, Lamar currently serves as the organization’s vice president, where he has overseen lobbying and association activities, said Gary Simmons, the group’s chairman.
“Many in the industry and policymaking community have grown to depend on Stephen’s expertise on how policies impact the industry,” Simmons said in a statement. “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.”
The work Helfenbein performed during his tenure included extending the AAFA’s reach by working toward an expanded Generalized System of Preferences program, criticizing multinational organizations guilty of intellectual property theft and rebranding the AAFA. He also helped give new life to the AAFA’s American Image Awards, which recognizes accomplishments in the apparel-and-footwear industry.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the leader of the American Apparel & Footwear Association,” Helfenbein said in a statement. “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.”