Alumni Stories

Meet GCNYC Alumni

Our distinguished Alumni are contributing to the common good through organizations across the globe. Learn more about their roles, what they studied, and their GCNYC experience below.

Marissa Pipkin
Marissa’s leadership roles include working with established brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and WANT Les Essentiels, as well as rapid growth retail technology start-ups The RealReal and Otrium. Marissa leads growth initiatives, expands national brick and mortar doors, develops customer experience models, and manages cross-functional teams. She has managed partnerships and built high-growth sales plans for +100 leading department stores, travel retail, and specialty accounts across multiple product categories in +30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and the Asia Pacific regions.

An El Centro, California native, who built her career in New York City, Marissa holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Science in International Fashion Marketing from Glasgow Caledonian University, New York College. In addition to her passion for retail, Marissa values health and wellness, studies French, writes handwritten letters, and explores a new country each year. Marissa was selected by the NYCEDC/92Y as a NYC Fashion Fellow and served as a Board Member on the Berkeley Alumni Board of New York.


How has your education at GCNYC changed your career path?

My biggest takeaway from GCNYC is the importance of being a values-based leader and how ultimately this will lead to more positive business outcomes. I learned technique on how to develop others to do the same.  I encourage my team to identify their values as early as possible in their careers and only make decisions in alignment with these values.


What stood out to you most about your experience at GCNYC?

I loved the personal branding journal we drafted in our first semester. In this project, we set our personal five-year plan, established our personal board of directors and defined our values and strengths.  I often reference this work to ensure I am continuously making progress and staying true to my values.


What did you focus your thesis on? Are there any updates you’d like to share?

My thesis was titled “What Does It Mean to be a Sustainable Brand; Understanding the Principles of Sustainable Fashion.” This study was designed to identify the foundational set of principles and evaluative criteria for establishing a universal definition of sustainable fashion.  If I were to complete part two of the study, I would explore the quantitative requirements to set an industry standard of being a sustainable brand.


Kiki Van Son

Why This Career Path?

“I felt as though I was perpetuating a broken system by further investing in social media platforms as an advertiser, and I decided to return to school to give myself space to study the problem, pinpoint exactly what the problem was, the role social media played, how it related to an advertising business model, and the connection to how we consume news, understand the world, and make decisions.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“At GCNYC, we were in small, intimate classes that were conversation-based. In addition to intellectual conversations, my professors also made space for emotional health, emphasizing meditation, movement, and honest self expression.”


What Lessons Were Most Valuable?

“I was grateful to learn about topics of sustainability not directly in my line of work. It only benefited me to have a larger perspective and connect the issues of social media to an even bigger picture of system failure.”

Megan Meiklejohn

What Course Moved You?

“Global Political Economy was an incredibly impactful course and it was taught in a methodical, organized, and thought-provoking way. Thinking through the numerous case studies with the teacher, Meredith Wilf, made us think differently, more strategically, about real world issues and how businesses approach geopolitical challenges.”


Why This Career Path?

“It felt important to pair my sustainability expertise with a foundational business knowledge to develop and recommend sustainability strategies that are also aligned with business goals.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

Most if not all classes highlight the systemic challenges and nuances that have to be considered when trying to make sustainability-based decisions. I now feel more empowered and capable of incorporating business and profit strategies into sustainability plans.”

Wesley Scott

What Course Moved You?

International This program’s focus on sustainability and business gave everyone in my classes a foundation of business acumen and then built on that with a focus on ethical practices, sustainability knowledge, and the understanding of how to create lasting impact.”


Why This Career Path?

“I became a co-founder and have since been slowly developing a sustainably made clothing collection that is sold alongside their supplement line and in their practice. Therefore, I wanted to deepen my knowledge of ethical business and sustainability and share a classroom with like-minded individuals.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“Anyone who has an interest in making a positive impact on the world, on any scale, would be lucky to have the guidance and expertise of the GCNYC community, whether that be through courses or a full program.”

Frank Gargione

How Has GCNYC Changed Your Career Path?

I hoped to move into a sustainability or CSR role at a fashion brand or find a role as a designer at a newer brand with a focus on sustainability and transparency. Of course, COVID happened, an accessories design role I had started that was intended to become permanent was eliminated; a startup I was working with folded; and I found myself relying more and more on my writing and communications skills – work I was doing at the very start of my career and that I had often done as a side gig. It felt right, especially as the retail industry continued its long, slow, contraction. By the second half of my time at GCNYC I was no longer designing, but writing copy for a sustainable brand, creating content for an outdoors nonprofit, and developing articles and listicles for a collection of editorial websites and newsletters.


What Stood Our Most About Your Experience?

I would have to say it’s the passion and commitment of the faculty – GCNYC professors walk the walk and talk the talk. They want to change the world for the better and they want to help their classes change the world for the better. 

Louise Claughton

Why This Career Path?

“As a VP of Raw Materials, it was imperative to understand risk management that exists within supply chains.


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

The courses at GCNYC were crucial to how I navigated the pandemic in 2020 and lead my team’s swift response to the disruption of our industry.”


A Piece of Advice?

“If brands take responsibility and accountability, as a whole we can come together to make a difference.”

Lorenza Wong

Why This Career Path?

“I knew I wanted to be in the space of sustainability, of circularity, and in textile sustainability. GCNYC was the only next step that made sense.”


Were The Courses Valuable To You?

“While at GCNYC I was actually actively teaching students elsewhere, and the classes at GCNYC were so relevant to what I was teaching that I started incorporating everything I was learning into my curriculum.”


Any Advice For Others?

“You can’t work within the now, you have to envision the future.” 

Emily Bass

How Has GCNYC Changed Your Career Path?

“I knew I wanted to be in the space of sustainability, of circularity, and in textile sustainability. My education from GCNYC has projected into a role of managing and advising my company as they begin their sustainable fashion shift. Understanding the larger picture of global business and climate change is essential to positively impacting today’s fashion companies.


What Stood Out Most About Your Experience?

GCNYC has a unified community through students, faculty, staff, and the larger GCU family joined in their commitment to the common good. We are all trying to better our communities and are eager to help each other reach our shared goals. “


What is the title of your thesis? Are there any updates you’d like to share?

“My thesis title is Circularity in the Fashion Industry: Communication Gaps in Textile-to-Textile Recycling.” 

Jennifer Horner

Why This Career Path?

“I wanted to influence business leaders to value the health of people and our planet.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“Earning a master’s degree from GCNYC has opened up a plethora of opportunities for me within the developing field of sustainable business which has been gaining significant momentum!”


How Are You Making An Impact?

“Combining my experience in the supply chain with a Master’s in International Fashion Marketing, I am helping to expand and evolve my company’s sustainability strategy. This includes educating people across various functions of the business on how their day-to-day work can have adverse impacts on suppliers and their workers. As a side hustle, I empower others by coaching them on how to set and achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.”

Shannon Welch

How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“GCNYC offers a well-rounded curriculum on sustainability including the finance industry, business, fashion and social impact. I’m very happy I chose GCNYC as I got a very one-on-one education in a supportive environment.”


Any Advice?

“My one piece of advice for someone pursuing a career in fashion sustainability is to  build relationships and be sincere. It’s a small industry and someone you meet one day, you will absolutely reconnect with down the road.”


What Is Your Biggest Sustainability Challenge?

“The biggest challenge is that these brands (and companies in general) are not set up to reward their sustainability achievements in the same manner that profitability is rewarded.”

Mallory Scott

Why This Career Path?

“To learn more about sustainability within the fashion world, for a career shift, and most importantly, to challenge myself in general.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“What I really liked was that it was built around working professionals and was incredibly affordable compared to other grad schools in NYC.”


Any Advice?

“If COVID has taught us anything, it is that life hits you with unexpected situations and you have to adapt to them.”

Peju Onile-Ere

How Has GCNYC Changed Your Career Path?

My GCNYC education has allowed me to know that everything I intend to do in my career is now related to helping companies and individuals understand the transformation they need grow through, in order for them create and complete initiatives that serves the greater good.”


What Stood Out Most About Your Experience?

The systems and design thinking approach to almost everything, where we had to look deeper into every project we worked on and how creating a great solution might simultaneously cause a new problem in a different way or area. I also liked the well-being aspect to the program, most of the instructors were quite mindful and challenged us as well in a positive way.


What is the title of your thesis? Are there any updates you’d like to share?

Title: The Relationship Between Employees’ Satisfaction And Corporate Culture: The Role Of Community In Workplace Culture That Enhance Employee Well-Being And Institutional SuccessI have expanded on what I learnt from doing the research and currently use that as a base in working with individuals which has helped in delivering great results.

Natalie Hojell

Why This Career Path?

“Although I wasn’t actively pursuing a graduate degree it seemed like the opportunity revealed itself. The flexibility, school’s mission and focus, and cost all fit my life very well. “


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“I feel that the community of peers and mentors I met during my time at GCNYC was fantastic. Being surrounded by people driven by a similar mission was very powerful. The systems thinking course taught by Seisei was very impactful; She opened our minds up to considering how actions affect the system they are within. The course was interactive, insightful, and fun.”


What Would You Share With a Potential Student?

The GCNYC Alumni community is so supportive and that makes all the difference.”

Elizabeth Pulos

Why This Career Path?

“After receiving my bachelor’s in International Trade & Marketing from FIT, I worked at a NGO focused on labor standards in factories, which led to my current role at Macy’s in Sustainability and Social Impact. GCNYC came onto my radar because Macy’s was a member of the Fair Fashion Center and they were offering scholarships and fast-tracked applications for the first cohort.”


How Did GCNYC Shape Your Journey?

“Most formal education doesn’t teach you how to think. Anyone can read a book and learn content, but solving problems is hard. GCNYC is a place where fashion professionals interested in ethical production and consumption can meet and share ideas.”


Any Advice?

“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for companies to focus on environmental and social impact, and the financial risks and opportunities associated with ESG issues. This means we need to look beyond the traditional CSR and sustainability teams to incubate these ideals at every level of the organization. GCNYC can act as a connector of creative professionals who seed smart solutions throughout the industry.”