Two Ten Footwear Foundation has announced the second honoree for its upcoming gala on June 6. The industry nonprofit will recognize Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, founder and president of the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (PLC), with the T. Kenyon Holly Award for humanitarian achievement.
“The T. Kenyon Holly Award is unique because it recognizes someone from the footwear community who is changing lives. That’s exactly what D’Wayne does,” Two Ten president and CEO Shawn Osborne said in a statement. “He inspires us not because of his many career achievements and business accomplishments, but because he is doing something extraordinary, providing pathways for underrepresented students to find opportunity in footwear.”
For more than a decade, Edwards — who had a storied design career at Nike and Jordan — has dedicated himself to racial equality in the footwear industry by training the next generation of creatives at his Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland, Ore.
In October 2021, that mission catapulted to a new level, when Edwards became the controlling stakeholder in The Lewis College of Business, a Detroit-based historically Black college and university founded by the late Violet T. Lewis that closed in 2013. The goal was to transform the institution into the country’s first HBCU to focus on design.
PLC began offering classes in May 2022, with programs focused on design, sustainability, business, STEM and more. And Edwards’ passion has inspired numerous footwear and fashion companies to take part. Nike, for one, invested $3 million toward the school; VF Corp. and Capri Holdings signed on for diversity-focused masterclasses; and most recently, PepsiCo inked a three-year partnership to help increase representation in design.
Edwards also realized another groundbreaking dream on March 20, when PLC and partner Designer Brands Inc. cut the ribbon on the JEMS by Pensole factory in Somersworth, N.H. The event marked the opening of the first Black-owned footwear factory in the United States.
Edwards will receive the 2023 T. Kenyon Holly award at the Two Ten Annual Gala in New York City on June 6.
In a statement, he said of the recognition, “As the first African American to receive this award, it is truly humbling that my life’s work for the last three decades of simply trying to leave the world better than when I entered it is being recognized. My early career focus was to design the future of footwear for this industry. I never imagined my real contribution would be designing the lives for the future of our industry.”
Two Ten previously announced that Susan Itzkowitz, president of Marc Fisher Footwear, will also be honored at the gala with the 2023 A.A. Bloom Memorial Award.