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Steven Kolb Said Elected to Head CFDA

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is said to have chosen its next executive director.

NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America is said to have chosen its next executive director.

According to sources, the CFDA’s board elected Steven Kolb to the post at a meeting on Monday afternoon. An official announcement could come as soon as today.

Kolb’s hire will end a search that went on for almost five months, and was full of speculation about fashion insiders interested in the job that Peter Arnold vacated last August to become president of John Varvatos Enterprises Inc. Kolb will take on one of the most high-profile jobs in New York fashion, one that requires multiple skills from raising and handling funds to managing major events. Stan Herman, CFDA’s president, couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.

Like former attorney Arnold, Kolb comes from a field other than fashion, but unlike his predecessor, he has a strong résumé in the nonprofit world. For the past year, he has been an executive director at the Staying Alive Foundation, MTV International’s program to help the fight against HIV and AIDS. Before that, he was an associate director of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, where he spent 14 years and was credited with helping raise over $20 million against AIDS and HIV. Kolb once also worked for the American Cancer Society. He is expected to start next month.

The search was conducted by the Karen Harvey Consulting Group. Kolb is said to have been one of the last candidates to be interviewed. While he may not have been as obvious a choice as the fashion executives speculated to have been in the running early in the search — who included Robert Burke of Bergdorf Goodman and Katherine Ross, now of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and formerly of Prada — Kolb’s years at DIFFA have given him much exposure to the design community. DIFFA is known for working closely with fashion houses. He is said to be a great fund-raiser, and a source said Kolb impressed the board with his strong background and understanding of nonprofit businesses.

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.