AAFA Names Rick Helfenbein President & CEO

The American Apparel & Footwear Association has tapped Rick Helfenbein, president of U.S. operations for Hong Kong-based apparel and footwear giant Luen Thai, as its president and CEO, effective Feb. 15.

Helfenbein, who helmed Luen Thai USA for 16 years, will replace current AAFA President and CEO Juanita Duggan, who announced her resignation in November after just over a year in the post.

Helfenbein is no stranger to AAFA: He has been the organization’s chairman for the past two years and has served on the its board since 2008.

It is a great honor for me to have been selected to lead AAFA,” Helfenbein said in a release. “Having worked in the industry my entire career, I understand the important issues we face and will continue the fight to expand and protect opportunities for all our member companies.”

New Balance Inc. President and CEO Robert DeMartini, who is currently vice chairman of the AAFA’s board, will succeed Helfenbein as chairman.

“When the opportunity came to select a new CEO for AAFA, we wanted a seamless transition and chose someone who could build on the momentum we’ve created,” said DeMartini in a statement. “Rick’s leadership, passion and dedication to AAFA is clear, and that made his appointment an easy and strong choice.”

Duggan will officially step down on Feb. 8. to become president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business.

As a board member, former chairman, and active member of AAFA, I know the caliber of the work at AAFA,” Helfenbein said. “I look forward to working closely with the AAFA team to enhance our leadership position on trade issues, protect our members’ intellectual property, and to be the number one trade organization for our industry, where members can discuss and act on our most important issues.”

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