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Shuffle Board: New CEOs at Forever 21, Rue 21 and Mastercard; Simons Named Prada Co-Creative Director


Forever 21

Forever 21 has a new chief executive just a week after the post-bankruptcy fast-fashion chain revealed its search for a CEO.

Former H&M North America president Daniel Kulle is taking the reins at Forever 21. He will relocate from New York to the company’s base in Los Angeles.

Kulle most recently was a strategic advisor to former H&M Group CEO Karl-Johan Persson, and served as a steering group member for three new digital startups within the H&M Group. ABG, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Group closed last week on an $81 million deal to salvage Forever 21 from of bankruptcy proceedings after the fast-fashion chain filed its voluntary petition in September.


Tilly’s Inc. appointed Jon Kosoff as chief digital officer overseeing all aspects of the company’s e-commerce, digital marketing and customer relationship management functions.

Prior to joining the company, Kosoff served as vice president of e-commerce and performance marketing at Taco Bell since January 2018. Prior to that, he served in a variety of digital leadership roles growing the e-commerce business at Hot Topic Inc. from November 2012 to December 2017, most recently as its senior vice president (SVP) of e-commerce and customer relationship management.

Tillys is a specialty retailer of casual apparel, footwear and accessories for young men, young women, boys and girls with an assortment of brands rooted in an active and social lifestyle. Tilly’s is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and currently operates 239 stores across 33 states and its website.

Rue 21

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The board of directors of Rue 21 announced that Michael Appel returned to his consulting practice and will no longer serve as chairman of the board and CEO. The board named John Fleming as interim CEO of Rue 21.

Fleming has been an active board member since October 2017 after the company emerged from its reorganization. He previously served as an advisor and board member for Stitch Fix and currently serves on the boards of Bed Bath & Beyond, Visual Comfort & Company and Untuckit.

The board also named Scott D. Vogel as its chairman. Vogel serves as a director of and advisor to companies in the midst of transition and transformation. Rue 21 offers apparel and accessories for young men and women, operating 690 stores in 45 states and online at


Mastercard announced that Ajay Banga, president and CEO, will transition to the role of executive chairman of the board of directors of Mastercard Incorporated on Jan. 1.

Mastercard’s board unanimously elected Michael Miebach, chief product officer, to become CEO and a member of the board at that time, and, as part of the transition, he will become president of the company, effective March 1. As president, Miebach will oversee the sales, marketing, products, services and technology organizations.

Mastercard’s current chairman, Richard Haythornthwaite, will retire from the board after more than a decade when Banga assumes the role of executive chairman.

Board member Merit Janow, dean of the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, was unanimously elected to become lead independent director on Jan. 1. She will continue to serve as chair of the nominating and corporate governance committee when Haythornthwaite retires.



Raf Simons will join the Prada luxury fashion house as co-creative director, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision-making.

The first Prada collection designed by Prada and Simons will be the Spring/Summer 2021 women’s wear show, presented in Milan in September.

This is Simons’ first appointment since his abrupt exit from Calvin Klein in 2018.

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss & Co. hired Tracy Layney as SVP and chief human resources officer (CHRO), effective April 20.

Most recently, Layney was SVP and CHRO at Shutterfly Inc. where she was responsible for recruiting, employee engagement, talent management, compensation and benefits, HR technology, corporate communications and the Shutterfly Foundation. Prior to her time at Shutterfly, Layney held numerous senior leadership roles at Gap Inc., including SVP for HR at Old Navy and vice president for global HR strategy, technology and operations at Gap Inc.

Earlier in her career, Layney worked at Levi Strauss as a senior organization readiness manager, supporting a global reengineering project.


Deckers Brands appointed Juan R. Figuereo to its board of directors, effective March 1. Figuereo served as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Revlon Inc. from 2016 to 2017.



The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) hired Beth Hughes as vice president (VP) of trade and customs policy, and Megan Balkovic as director of membership experience and industry engagement. Both are new positions that expand the association’s policy and membership divisions.

In her new role, Hughes will serve as the AAFA’s chief advocate on matters of trade and customs policy, as well as take on the role of liaison to the association’s government relations committee and customs group. She joins AAFA from the International Dairy Foods Association, where she led international trade policy initiatives.

Balkovic returns to AAFA, having previously served as sponsor development manager. In her new role, Balkovic will be tasked with implementing and managing strategies and processes that create meaningful experiences and add value for AAFA members. The position will support recruitment and retention of the association’s membership base and serve as the primary sponsorship contact.

Most recently Balkovic ran MHB Services, which provided associations with management support in the areas of membership, development, governance and program coordination.

Sorini, Samet & Associates

Sorini, Samet & Associates, a leading international trade and government affairs consultancy in Washington, D.C. , announced the addition of Rick Helfenbein as a special advisor starting on March 1.

Helfenbein recently stepped down as the president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the national trade association representing more than 1,000 brands in the apparel, footwear, and accessories industry. In this new capacity, Rick will work with clients on pragmatic solutions to trade policy and global sourcing challenges.

Helfenbein’s tenure at AAFA included a transformation and reenergizing of the organization’s operations, and a large increase in membership and revenue. Under his leadership AAFA updated its logo, website and communication platforms, and increased its presence on Capitol Hill, achieving notable legislative victories.


Dray Alliance

Dray Alliance, a digital drayage marketplace that connects shippers and truckers for short-range delivery of shipping containers between ports and logistics centers, named Sammi Liu as chief operating officer and Lauren Roberts as VP of sales to lead the company into its next phase.

Liu started her career in finance and transitioned to the startup world at Uber, where she was instrumental in conceptualizing its operations and logistics in Los Angeles. She also served as general manager of logistics service Shyp.

At Dray, Liu will oversee the company’s sales, operations and finance divisions.

Prior to Dray, Roberts served as a sales executive at Samsara, a unicorn in trucking fleet management. She has also held senior sales positions at Indeni and Cisco.


G2 appointed Chris Hughes as a managing director and the new practice leader of transportation and logistics.

Hughes will be based in G2’s Boston office, reporting to Matt Konkle, head of industry teams for G2. He will oversee G2’s extensive transportation and logistics practice in collaboration with Chris Casteleyn, director, and Tess Sheidy, associate, who joined the firm in January.

Prior to joining G2, Hughes served as the CEO of E*Fill America, a U.S based e-commerce-focused warehousing and fulfillment company. Prior to that, he served as the president of Cooltrax Americas, an IoT provider of temperature-controlled telematics sensor technology for the cold chain sector.

G2 Capital Advisors provides mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and restructuring advisory services to the middle market. It offers integrated, multi-product and sector-focused services by pairing experienced C-level executives with specialist investment bankers.