Anne Keating, Bloomingdale’s senior vice president of public relations, special events and corporate philanthropy, is leaving the department store chain on July 28 to become an independent consultant focused on brands and philanthropy.

“This is a hard decision, but it’s the right one at this time of my life,” Keating told WWD on Tuesday, when her departure was disclosed to the executive committee. “There are a lot of things I want to do and that people are asking me to do, but I haven’t had the time given my commitment to Bloomingdale’s.”

The 29-year veteran of Bloomingdale’s worked closely with three of the company’s chief executive officers: the current chairman and ceo Tony Spring, his predecessor Michael Gould, and Gould’s predecessor, the late Marvin Traub. She has been the company spokesperson, widely connected in fashion, retail and charity circles, and a key part of the team organizing store openings and the events surrounding them. She also fostered partnerships with Broadway shows and Hollywood involving appearances by stars, merchandise tie-ins and windows, most recently “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Keating was instrumental in broadening the scope of Bloomingdale’s charity endeavors on both national and local grassroots levels. When Katie Couric launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance in 2000, Keating brought Bloomingdale’s in as the first national corporate sponsor of the NCCRA at a time when there was little awareness or conversation about the deadly disease and preventative measures.

Subsequently, the late Evelyn Lauder asked Keating if Bloomingdale’s would do for her cause, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, what had been done for Couric’s. The store complied by spearheading fund-raising and awareness activities and is a corporate partner of the BCRF through Bloomingdale’s Pink Campaign.

Keating has also put Bloomingdale’s into the forefront of raising awareness of children’s mental health issues including partnering with Dr. Harold Koplewicz at the New York University Child Study Center and getting Bloomingdale’s to support the Child Mind Institute. Bloomingdale’s supports God’s Love We Deliver, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and amfAR as well.

Bloomingdale’s aggressive expansion into California in the Nineties was among Keating’s biggest and most exhausting challenges. “We opened four stores in two weeks — Century City, Sherman Oaks, Newport Beach and Stanford.” A couple of months later, a home unit in Newport Beach and a store in Beverly Center opened. “California made me realize that if you have the right team, right partners, right charities, you can do anything,” Keating said.

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Anne Keating  Sophie Elgort

“Anne has been an integral part of our organization and the Bloomingdale’s family, but she is going to continue here as a consultant for us on philanthropic and other strategic initiatives that can capitalize on her knowledge of the business and the relationships in the industry,” Spring said.

Keating’s position “as it is structured today” will not be filled, Spring said. Lori Griffith, vice president of special events and public relations for stores, and Julia Austin, operating vice president of national media, will report directly to Jack Hruska, executive vice president of creative services, instead of Keating.

Keating began her retail career at Tiffany & Co. She later became Bloomingdale’s director of bridal and gift services. After working at the retailer for seven years, she became vice president of public relations, special events and corporate services at FAO Schwarz before rejoining Bloomingdale’s in 1995 as vice president of public relations.

Among her various affiliations, Keating is a member of the board of trustees for the American Associates of the Old Vic and HELP USA/Mentoring USA; she is on the board of NYC & Company and on the Director’s Council of the Children’s Museum of the Arts. She also serves as an advisor to the Child Mind Institute and is a member of the Dream Team for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers.

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