December 15, 2005
Fortunoff Is New Chair of GIA Board of Governors
Jewelry retailer Helene Fortunoff of Fortunoff, New York City, is the news chairman of the board of governors of the Gemological Institute of America. She replaces Ralph Destino, who was recently appointed chairman of GIA. Fortunoff was elected unanimously.
"As GIA prepares to celebrate 75 years of serving the public trust in gems and jewelry through excellence in gemological education, research, laboratory services, and instrument development, Helene's appointment is especially fitting. Her career is marked by integrity, dedication, leadership, and achievement, qualities which are vital in her new leadership role as chairman of the Institute's board of governors," said Destino.
"Through many years working with Helene, I've come to deeply respect her
commitment to the Institute's nonprofit mission, her care and concern for GIA's people, and her devotion to helping guide the Institute's growth and ability to better serve the industry and the public," said William E. Boyajian, GIA president. "Her election is a most welcome decision."
"It is an honor to accept this new and challenging role, said Fortunoff. "GIA's mission in professionalizing the jewelry industry and upholding standards is critical in protecting the public's confidence in our products, and I am pleased to play a part in furthering this important work."
Fortunoff was the first recipient of both the National Jewelers Award
for retailing excellence and the Morris B. Zale Award for retailing excellence. She has received the Women's Jewelry Association's Hall of Fame Award and has served as WJA president. Fortunoff is also a recipient of the American Gem Society's 2001 Triple Zero Award. In January she will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Jewelry Information Center.
She was the first female member of the United States Carat Club, a private and prestigious DeBeers group, and in 1997 she received an honorary appointment as Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, in honor of her long association with Italian jewelry manufacturers. GIA honored Fortunoff in 1997 as one of the recipients of the Sovereigns of the GIA League of Honor. Fortunoff is active in community and religious organizations, serving as a trustee for the North Shore (New York) Family and Child Guidance Association, and honored as its 1996 Woman of Achievement. Fortunoff is a past chairman of the board of trustees of Hofstra University and continues to serve actively on its board. She was honored by the UJA Federation of New York, Diamond and Jewelry Division, as well as this same division by ORT. She is also a charter member of the UJA Women of Distinction and a Lion of Judah of that organization. In addition, she serves as an advisory board member of the Women President Organization.
A cum laude graduate in business administration of New York University, she makes her home in Manhasset, NY. Of her six children, five work closely with her in executive retailing positions at Fortunoff.