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María DeCastro Blake 
Community Service Award
2008 Honoree

Executive Director, Dress for Success Jersey City

Lillian Hernández is currently president and CEO of "Dress for Success," Jersey City, which she co-founded in 1999. "Dress for Success" is a national organization that provides low-income women with their first interview appropriate outfit. It does so based on the assumption that the first physical impression during an interview is critical to securing employment.

With a deep understanding of the needs of the community it serves, "Dress for Success," Jersey City, started a menís program called "Suits for Success" in August 2004. Under Lillianís leadership, the Jersey City branch grew exponentially, having already suited nearly 14,000 women and 5,000 men. In October 2005 "Dress for Success" started the Post TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) outreach program, which has served over 7,500 needy families since its inception.

Mrs. Hernández brought to the organization not only her social commitment but also her over three decades of experience in fashion design and management. Her career began in the design of fur coats and sweaters for Sprout Enterprises, a company that also launched her extensive travels throughout Central and South America, Europe, Asia and the Far East. These experiences also introduced her to many design and aesthetic influences and quickly matured her appreciation of color, texture, fabric, design composition, and style.

For twenty years, at Sportiva Ltd., she developed and produced numerous private labels for department and chain stores such as Bloomingdale and Macyís. One of her most famous and popular labels was the Jaclyn Smith line of K-Mart. With this company she eventually rose to the position of Vice President for merchandising and quality control.

Throughout the 1990ís Lillian continued expanding her skills in production and management. While with the River Edge Company, she was responsible for sourcing and negotiating costing with overseas factories for the companyís diverse line of sportswear and overcoats.

Recently, Lillian Hernández has taken over three decades of experience in design and management in the fashion industry and has begun to write and lecture about fashion, the business world and the importance of oneís wardrobe to secure a position as well as for success in the work environment.

She developed, designed, and executed a series of seminars for United Way for their project leadership program on developing a professional image. She has lectured and developed workshops at New Jersey City University, Rutgers University of Camden, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Development Institute for Mexican Women Managers at SmithKline Beecham in Mexico City, and Yazigi Internexus a global educational network in Vitoria Brazil.


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