Team

The BF+DA full- and part-time staff works hard to ensure the success of the organization and also collaborates with our Venture Fellows and members to help their companies flourish. Not only is it rewarding to work at an organization making real impact for people and the environment, but we also have a ton of fun together.

To be in touch, please fill out our contact form.

Team

Debera Johnson

The opportunity to help, learn, share or create community puts me into action and I have spent my life as a serial academic-entrepreneur-designer.

Success is defined by three criteria: have I created a replicable model for change, has it been powered by collaboration, and does it align with my core values. My role at the BF+DA is to nurture our relationships with strategic partners and bring critical knowledge and resources to the team and our fellows, members, students, mentors and masterminds. My purpose is to ensure that the BF+DA becomes a viable and vital community.

  • Founder, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Founder, Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability
  • Founder, Center for Sustainable Design Strategies (CSDS)
  • Founder, Pratt Design Incubator
  • Chair, Pratt Industrial Design Department

Aubrey Hays

I am a dedicated photographer, art administrator and educator with a spirited passion for human centered design. I fully believe in the holistic connectivity of the creative process, and take great pride in supporting its ideation.

  • Associate Managing Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • MFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design.
  • Previously Director of Operations, MFA Design for Social Innovation, School of Visual Arts.
  • Former Associate Faculty, MFA Design for Social Innovation Global Guest Lecture course.

Rachel Tobias

A passionate advocate for the fundamental rights of individuals, I am driven by the call to remediate human rights abuses in the fashion industry. I believe sustainable fashion enterprises – those which place the needs of people and planet on par with profit – are the answer.

  • Business Development & Community Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • General Counsel, ManufactureNY Inc.
  • Fashion Law LL.M.
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
  • Volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

Christine Billard

Opportunities to learn, teach others, and experience the world with new eyes each morning is what motivates me. I have a problem-solving mentality that keeps my brain focused not just on societal problems, but more importantly the development of solutions, especially in the realm of public policy. 

As the Space and Program Coordinator at the BF+DA, I support the our community by coordinating internal and external events focused on sustainable education, improving industry standards, and rethinking product consumption.

  • Space and Program Coordinator,  Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • 5+ years in luxury fashion as an artwork designer and patternmaker
  • Garment and textile manufacturing
  • A/V theatre technician for events and classes

Amy DuFault

Storytelling will save the world.

As a journalist for the past 20 years, I have written countless stories about people and their passions, drawing inspiration from each and every one. I love a good story. Providing platforms for people to confidently share, shout, and be thoughtful enough to voice their viewpoints is critical to furthering conversations that will move the fashion industry forward. (To move being a human in this world forward.) My role at the BF+DA is to make sure that space for sharing is always available.

  • Communications Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • 20+ years in journalism
  • Sustainable Fashion Consultant

Kelly Puertas

From spinning my own yarn to seeing the final product on the runway, I have a deep love and appreciation for the entire life cycle of a knitted garment. I hope to share my passion and knowledge with others to help them transform their designs from sketch to finished product.

With over ten years experience in the fashion industry, I have worn many hats as a manager of sampling and production, senior knitwear tech designer and experienced knitwear designer for men, women and children’s apparel. These experiences helped me achieve complete fluency in sweater construction, yarn composition and stitch structure. At the BF+DA, I analyze and implement design solutions while overseeing the knitwear product development from concept to production. My goal is to educate our designers on cost effective knitting techniques and finishes while maintaining zero waste manufacturing.

  • Knitwear Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Knitwear Sample and Production Manager, Stoll FTNY
  • Senior Knitwear Tech Designer, Stoll FTNY
  • Knitwear Designer/Director for RTW, Contemporary, Better and Mass Market
  • Creator, “Foundation of Shaped Knitwear”
  • Mentor, Start-up designers

Tara St James

I believe that sustainability, transparency, collaboration and disruptive innovation are the keys to growth. This conviction has compelled me to share the knowledge I’ve amassed over the years with the next generation.

My belief that the hands that manipulate the materials we use are just as important as the quality and sustainability of those materials is a driving force in my business and personal life. As a fashion designer with over 15 years experience producing both domestically and overseas, I have developed a vast understanding of a variety of production systems and manufacturing techniques. My role as production coordinator and research fellow is to facilitate designers’ experience through sampling and production.

  • Production Coordinator & Research Fellow | Zero Waste Manufacturing, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Founder & Creative Director, Study NY
  • Educator in Sustainable Design Certificate, Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Head of Sample Room & New Development, Brooklyn Denim Company
  • Co-Founder & Creative Director, Covet

Carolyn Shafer

Sustainable design is exciting, relevant, challenging and filled with opportunity. It goes far beyond choosing “green materials” and calls for true innovation.

I am creating a new resource center, called the s.Lab, for the BF+DA to integrate Life Cycle Thinking into the design process. My role at the BF+DA is to mentor Venture Fellows around their sustainability mission using my knowledge of Life Cycle Assessment Tools, Sustainable Design Strategies, and Environmental Impacts of various materials.

  • s.LAB Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Director, Center for Sustainable Design Strategies (CSDS) at Pratt Institute
  • Developed CSDS Resource Center
  • Project Manager, CSDS Industry and Research projects
  • Coordinator, annual Sustainability Crash Course
  • Master in Industrial Design
  • BS in Engineering Science (Mechanical)

Kwesi Blair

I’m a marketer, storyteller and brand strategist who has worked in the fashion and retail industry for close to 15 years.

I have been tasked with overseeing and developing strategy for both the creative and operational sides of the retail space. Throughout my career I’ve helped Fortune 500 companies, global brands and emerging start-ups optimize market value through innovation, authenticity and moxie. I’m a student of semiotics who understands how cultural trends, insights and movements can shape businesses and build legacies.

I’m particularly interested in helping purpose-driven brands deliver relevant and engaging experiences through products. I’m also passionate about developing new standards for addressing environmental, social and economic impact in both the consumer market and mindset.

  • Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Chief Operating Officer, OXOSI (African E-Commerce Platform)
  • Senior Vice President, Robert Burke Associates Consulting
  • Buyer, Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Account Manager, Laforce + Stevens Communications
  • MSc. in Sustainability Management from Columbia University
  • B.A. in Political Science and African/African-American Studies from Duke University

Interns

Alice Kutsina

Pratt School of Design