Kenneth Cole Named 2023 Endicott College Commencement Speaker
Renowned activist and global fashion designer Kenneth Cole will be the 2023 Endicott College Commencement speaker on May 20, 2023.
“More than a designer, Kenneth Cole is an engaged social advocate and philanthropist who has devoted his life and storied career to making people not only look good but feel good by fighting for a more equitable world,” said Endicott College President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D. “He represents the most powerful qualities of an Endicott College education and will share inspirational words with the Class of 2023.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Cole grew up in the shoe business—his father owned the El Greco shoe manufacturing company. In 1982, Cole founded his own enterprise, Kenneth Cole Productions, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and continues to make a meaningful impact on people’s wardrobes as well as communities in need. Kenneth Cole is proud to be ALWAYS ON PURPOSE and considers the brand’s voice its greatest accessory.
As an engaged citizen and longtime activist, Cole launched his company’s first HIV/AIDS public service campaign in 1985. Two years later, he joined amfAR’s board of directors and remained on the board for 30 years and served as chairman for 14.
Throughout his career, Cole has campaigned for and been an outspoken activist for voting rights, AIDS awareness and research, gender equality, gun safety, and homelessness. His thought-provoking ads have often pushed the boundaries of fashion and social activism and, in 2017, he received the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Swarovski Award for Positive Change.
In 2019, Cole founded The Mental Health Coalition, which comprises leading mental health organizations, brands, and individuals who have joined forces to end mental health stigma and change how people talk about and care for mental illness.
Cole has three daughters with his wife Maria Cuomo Cole and the two live in New York.
Endicott’s 83rd Commencement ceremony will take place on campus at Hempstead Stadium on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at 10 a.m. During the ceremony, Cole will be presented with an honorary degree in recognition of his groundbreaking fashion, philanthropic, and advocacy work.
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