Fashion alumna Kieran Donahue (B.A. ’93) attributes her professional success to VCUarts and her strong bond with Fashion Merchandising Professor Karen Videtic, who retired in May. Donahue is currently the vice president, brand, marketing & digital for the Americas at Marriott International. “I love fashion and I love travel,” says Donahue, who has shrewdly parlayed her knowledge of retailing into a high level career in the hospitality industry.
“Karen was instrumental in helping me become a leader,” adds Donahue, who recalls the pivotal moment when asked to direct the annual fashion show during her junior year. She says, “I was taken aback that she trusted me with the job.” A director’s success requires mastery of many moving parts including design, music and backstage operations. “This experience was momentous for me,” Donahue observes. “It got me thinking about every single piece of an operation and how they work together.”
The relationship established at VCUarts has extended far beyond the classroom. Professor Videtic says, “Kieran was an exceptional student. I have followed her through her career.” Donahue began her career at Tricots St. Raphael, a prominent New York City men’s fashion designer. After this experience, she moved to Los Angeles where she produced an event called MAGIC, the fashion industry’s most prestigious trade show. Her professional achievements gained momentum at Hilton Hotels where Donahue ultimately became the Vice President of Global Brand Marketing for DoubleTree. On many occasions, Videtic and her fashion students traveled across the country to meet Donahue who always graciously shared her time and talent.
Donahue credits her mentor as being an integral part of her professional success. “I use the metaphor ‘one band, one sound’ all the time in my team building meetings. This means that we all work together as one unit to get the job done, no matter what an individual’s responsibility.” The lessons that Donahue learned through Videtic’s teaching serve her well in her current career. She doesn’t hesitate to call her advisor and friend to discuss an issue. “I trust Karen’s opinions and insights. She is always on point.”
To honor this mentor relationship, Donahue has generously provided funds for the Videtic Scholarship, a new fund established by VCUarts to support current students majoring in fashion merchandising. “I am an extremely proud alumna and I attribute my success to my fashion education and Karen’s message. It made me believe in myself and I want more students to find success and joy,” says Donahue.