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Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions I

Farm to Fashion: Flax and Linen (2017 Sustainability Grant Recipient)
Ajoy Sarkar Associate Professor in the Textile Development and Marketing (TDM) Jeffrey Silberman, Professor and Chair, Textile Development and Marketing

Recipients of a 2017 Sustainability Grant will report on progress for their hands-on project that proposed to begin with seed and flow through to finished high-end apparel product. The project supports organic and local natural fiber farming, and furthers the TDM natural dye initiative. Specifically, the focus of this project is on flax fiber that creates the yarn and fabric known as linen.

Fashion Supply Chain
James Mendolia, Adjunct Assistant Professor, MFA Fashion Design

Participants will engage in an interactive workshop to examine the design development cycle from fiber through garment lifecycle to determine how emerging fashion professions can play an integral role and activate change. James will introduce smart materials that offer significant reductions in water, energy and CO2.

Mindfulness as a Sustainability Tool
Nomi Dale Kleinman, Assistant Professor of Textile Surface Design

Research shows that mindfulness can transform not only an individual but social practices as well. Through a brief mindfulness training, we will set the stage for understanding how this practice can help shift us towards a more sustainable society. Participants will discuss actionable steps for the future and learn a tool to keep motivated and focused on their core missions.

Breakout Sessions II

Burned by the Tuscan Sun? Counter Narratives Through Oral History for Sustainable Tourism
Erica Moretti, PhD, Assistant Professor of Italian

Twenty years since its publication, the fictional memoir Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes remains a classic in travel literature. Its success prompted a movie adaptation and marked a boom of escapist texts set in the Tuscan countryside. Over the past two decades, the little town of Cortona in Southern Tuscany, where most of these narratives are set, has undergone a radical transformation. Due to mass tourism, it has undergone economic and social changes. In particular, a touristic monoculture has profoundly altered its economy and the habits of its inhabitants. Cortona no longer has a community of citizens, and it is only able to generate souvenir stores, ice cream parlors, and bed-and-breakfasts.

My work aims at assessing the positive (economic growth) and negative aspects (alienation and displacement of local culture/locals) of the surge of mass tourism that has inundated Cortona. Through sixty oral interviews, I assess the changes that have occurred over the past twenty years to see whether there has been any development toward sustainable practices in tourism. Oral-history narratives provide me with firsthand information on this process and allow me to reconstruct the impact of mass tourism on civic society. I pay particular to how oral history will give voice to subjects upon whom changes are usually imposed from above; it also establishes a counter narrative to the Disneyfication of the hamlet.

Packaging Materials and Recycling
Sandra Krasovec, Professor of Packaging Design & Theanne Schiros, PhD, Assistant Professor of Science and Math

What is our trash made of and how is it disposed of properly (or not) at the end-of-life? We will have hands-on activities to explain the the good, bad and ugly of the four basic packaging materials, what happens after it leaves your trash bin, what goes where in the recycling stream and what doesn't.

Breakout Sessions Presenters


Nomi Dale Kleinman

Nomi Dale Kleinman is a textile designer based in Brooklyn. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design she went on to work for the high-end residential fabric house Scalamandre. Later, Nomi was recruited by American Silk Mills Inc., where she worked in various roles including Director of CAD Design and Senior Designer for almost 10 years. Nomi designed for clients such as Pollack, Beacon Hill and Kravet. In 2003, she took a sabbatical from ASM, traveling to Africa and Southeast Asia and studied traditional weaving techniques in Laos. In 2004, she earned American Silk Mills’ Designer of the Year Award. Nomi continues to design for clients in the textile industry.

Nomi joined the Textile Surface Design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology as an Assistant Professor specializing in woven design in 2007. At FIT she co-coordinated the Annual Sustainability Conference for 8 years and serves on the President’s Sustainability Council. On campus, Nomi has developed community awareness activities centered on sustainability. She is a founding member and current chair of the planning committee for the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Textiles, a four-day series of lectures, discussions, panels, and hands-on workshops focusing on sustainability and technology in fashion and textiles. Nomi’s current work and research centers on fibers and their sustainable qualities and slow textiles. Her most recently collaboration is with fashion designer Mimi Prober to develop fabrics from locally made fibers. One of these works was recently shown at New York Fashion Week.


Sandra A. Krasovec

Sandra Krasovec is a professor in the Packaging Design Department at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City. With over twenty-five years of experience in brand and packaging design, she has been instrumental in developing curriculum and creating a network between students, alumni, brand design firms and the packaging design industry. She has always been an advocate for sustainability and best practices and has been on the President’s Sustainability Council since its inception in 2009 She was Co-Chair from 2007-2016 for the Annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference held at FIT. She has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the FIT Faculty Excellence Award.

Sandra continues to consult, teaching organizations how to use design thinking and methodology, and design management to broaden their creative capabilities and strengthen their competitive advantage. She is co-author of Packaging Design: Successful Product Branding from Concept to Shelf that is widely used as a text for introductory packaging design courses. She has also written for Package Design Magazine and Beauty Packaging, has been a speaker at industry conferences and a participant on educational and professional panels, and has been a judge for industry competitions.


James Mendolia

James Mendolia is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the new MFA in Fashion Design at FIT and a member of FIT’s Sustainability Council. In 2015, James partnered with Guisy Bettoni to co-found C.L.A.S.S. Education; a new division of C.L.A.S.S. the Milan based multi-platform HUB. An innovative approach to education that teaches emerging designers alongside fashion professionals, challenging them to rethink the existing design and development models and processes. C.L.A.S.S. Education presents eco-smart materials that inspire creativity and offer significant reductions in water, CO2 and energy and empowers like-minded fashion professionals to optimize their sourcing options and transform their current business model to activate change. He is exceptional at building and leading executive training programs, interactive workshops, pop-up lectures, fashion curriculum, and providing fashion schools support that transforms the way they think. James has presented work related to Design Responsibility, Future Fashion Systems, and Design Education to businesses and fashion schools in Europe, Asia, Mexico, Canada, and the United States.


Erica Moretti

Erica Moretti is Assistant Professor of Italian at the Fashion Institute of Technology-SUNY. She received a Ph.D. in Italian Studies from Brown University and a diploma in American Studies from Smith College. With Sharon Wood, she published a collection of essays on British-Italian writer Annie Chartres Vivanti. She has published essays on assimilation policies in the United States in the Progressive era (History of Education), the Italian feminist movement (Italian Culture), and Italian colonialism and biopolitics (in the volume Colonialismo e identità nazionale), among other topics. She is currently working on a book project that explores changes in pacifist thought in the first half of twentieth century in Europe through the work of the Italian educator Maria Montessori. Her research interests include modern Italian intellectual and social history, biopolitics, gender studies, modern and contemporary Italian literature, and Italian colonialism.


Ajoy Sarkar

Ajoy Sarkar’s research focus is sustainable textiles, ecofashion, and protective functional fabrics. Dr.Sarkar has authored over forty-five publications and presented at numerous international conferences. He is also a co-author of a bestselling textbook, J.J. Pizzuto’s Fabric Science, 11th Edition, New York, NY: Fairchild Books, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.  Additionally, Sarkar serves as an associate editor for the AATCC Journal of Research (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists). He teaches on topics including fibers, textile coloration, textile finishing, product development, performance textiles, textile analysis, and application of textile technology to design. Following undergraduate education in India, he earned MS and PhD degrees in textile sciences from The University of Georgia. Dr. Sarkar is the 2016-2017 recipient of the FIT President’s Award for Faculty Excellence.



 Theanne Schiros

Theanne Schiros, PhD, is Assistant Professor at FIT, where she teaches physics, chemistry and sustainability courses. She is the FIT coordinator and faculty lead for the international Biodesign Challenge, guiding students on how to rethink textiles through technology, biology and sustainable design. She is also an Adjunct Research Scientist at Columbia University in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), as well as the diversity liaison, working collaboratively across the center to explore 2-D materials for next generation, post-silicon electronic devices, and catalysts for clean energy applications. Schiros is engaged in international sustainable development with organizations such as Engineers without Borders (Haiti), the Finca Morpho Permaculture collective (Costa Rica) and the “There is No Limit Foundation” (Guinea). She has published her work in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has been the recipient of multiple grants to support this work, including the National Geographic Chasing Genius Award (Sustainable Planet) for development of a kelp-based bioyarn for textile applications, and was the United Nations ECOWAS Fellow for Sustainable Energy Engineering, the NYSERDA Fellow, and an EFRC Fellow for next generation photovoltaic devices at Columbia University in the area of nanomaterials science and engineering.

 Jeffrey Silberman

 Jeffrey Silberman

Jeffrey Silberman is a Professor and Chairperson of the Textile Development and Marketing Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. He is the 2015-2016 winner of the President's Award for Faculty Excellence. He simultaneously served as a consultant to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Secretariat, and Executive Director to the International Forum for Cotton Promotion (IFCP) from 2001-2016. He is an international textile consultant specializing in marketing and development strategy. He designed and implemented textile programs in more than fifteen countries, including Turkey, India, Armenia and Nepal; linen development programs throughout Russia, including the Vologda, Kaluga, Kostroma, and Yaroslavl oblasts; cashmere identity for the Mongolian Cashmere FibreMark Society in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Mr. Silberman was a core member of the team charged with developing and launching the Egyptian Cotton Logo and World Wide Promotion Program (CottonEgypt) for the Government of Egypt and Alcotexa. He built, managed, and was a site guide for the Apparel and Home Textiles Internet Industry Channel for About.com.

Prior to building his consulting firm, Mr. Silberman was a Director of Marketing for Cotton Incorporated, and before that, the Technical Director for United Merchants and Manufacturers, Inc. Mr. Silberman holds a Master of Textiles (MR) degree from North Carolina State University, College of Textiles, a B.S. in Textile Marketing and Design from Philadelphia University, and Advanced Management Program Certificates from the Wharton School of Business in Finance and Accounting, Marketing Management from the Columbia Graduate School of Business, and Environmental Law from New York University. He is a winner of the Winrock Award for Service and Dedication for his work with Russian flax producers.