State: New York
The WJA Foundation is proud to partner with the Fortunoff family to launch a new scholarship for women in retail in honor of their late mother, Helene Fortunoff. The Helene Fortunoff Women in Retail Scholarship will support retail leaders by providing opportunities for them to further their careers through education and management training.
In memory of Helene’s unwavering commitment to pave the way for women to grow within the industry, this $7,500 scholarship will be awarded annually to a retail professional who wishes to develop their management skills to progress their career in a retail environment. The award will support education for soft and hard skills training, including talent management, project management, effective communication, collaboration, and managing conflict and resolution, merchandising, and marketing.
Rising retail leaders are encouraged to apply for this scholarship opportunity. This includes store level employees (i.e. sales professionals, assistant managers, store managers) and professionals working in inventory, merchandising, marketing, finance, and more.
Helene Fortunoff was a trailblazing woman in the jewelry industry, and one of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s founding members back in 1983. She served as President from 1992 – 1995, led the organization’s fashion group for 15 years, and was recognized with WJA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Helene recognized the importance of a community for women in the industry, as there were few seats at the table four decades ago for women in the jewelry business. She was named chairman of the Gemological Institute of America’s board of governors. The United States Carat Club, a private and prestigious De Beers group, invited Helene to be the first woman member. In recognition of her long association with Italian jewelry manufacturers, Helene received the honorary appointment as Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy in 1997. In 2001, Helene received the American Gem Society’s Triple Zero Award, and in 2006, received Jewelers of America’s Gem Award for lifetime achievement, which was presented to her by Lauren Bacall, a longtime spokesperson for the Fortunoff brand.
Helene was also an outstanding mentor and believed in the value of supporting her team and developing talent. She carried jewelry by women designers and provided flexible schedules to the employees who were mothers and caregivers.
Training Program / Coursework Criteria:
This scholarship is valued for up to $7,500. Coursework must be taken within one year. The program may be online or in-person and is subject to approval by the scholarship jury. Some examples of programs include the Center for Creative Leadership, Dale Carnegie Institute - The Women’s Leadership Experience, NYU Executive Education - Leadership Training for High Potentials, LIM Master of Professional Studies in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management, Drexel MS in Retail and Merchandising (online), or any college-level coursework in management, marketing, or merchandising.
- Must be currently employed full time in a retail jewelry store defined as either an independent, regional, or national, global chain.
- Must have 3-5 years retail sales/ management experience (sales professional, assistant manager, or store manager) and/or broader support roles which include marketing, merchandising, inventory, finance, etc. in a retail organization
- Open to female or female-identifying applicants.
- Must be a WJA member in current standing or join WJA upon receipt of scholarship.