More About This Exceptional Woman And Her Far-Ranging Community
Philanthropic Endeavors, Whether With The University Of Pennsylvania,
The Rena Rowan Breast Center, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation,
Or Rowan House, The First Project Of Rena Rowan Foundation
For The Homeless
The Following Are From & © The
University Of Pennsylvania Sociologic Winter 2001 (Top Article)
University Of Pennsylvania Almanac Tuesday October 10, 2000 - Vol. 47 No. 7
And Other Respective Copyright Holders
Rena Rowan-Damone, internationally renowned fashion designer
and philanthropist, has been appointed to the University of
Pennsylvania School of Social Work Board of Overseers for a
A native of Poland, Mrs. Rowan-Damone, her mother and sister
were separated from their father and exiled to Siberia during
World War II. Ms. Rowan married an American officer and came to
the U.S. in 1945. After her divorce, she began sewing clothing to
support her four children. This led to her entree into the fashion
Ms. Rowan was the Co-Founder & Executive Vice President of
Jones of New York (Jones Apparel Group) until 2000. Previously,
she was the company's head designer. In 1998 she married Vic
Damone and today, she devotes her time and energy to philanthropic
In 1997, The Rena Rowan Foundation for the Homeless opened the
doors of Rowan House, a transitional living facility for homeless
mothers and children. Located in West Philadelphia the 26-unit
Rowan House features 24-hour staffing for supportive care,
counseling and health care for each family, parenting education
and children's classes, on site child care as well as job training
and educational opportunities for mothers.
This fall, Mrs. Damone, who is a breast cancer survivor,
established the Rena Rowan Breast Center at the University of
Pennsylvania Cancer Center. The Center offers comprehensive care
for women, including diagnosis and treatment, nutrition,
psychological counseling and rehabilitation care. The Center also
boasts an on-site boutique featuring prosthetic supplies and
The Rena Rowan Breast Center was dedicated October, 2000. Rena
Rowan, internationally recognized fashion designer, business
woman, philanthropist, as well as an SSW overseer, christened
the 11,000 square foot facility on the 14th floor of the Penn
Tower Hotel which is designed specifically to treat and care
for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The Center officially
opened to patients on November 6 2000.
Dr. John Glick, director of the Cancer Center and director of
the Abramson Cancer Research Institute, called the creation of
the new Center, "an extraordinary milestone in the history of
the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center." He said that its
mission is to provide "outstanding integrated, comprehensive
and compassionate care, special attention to detail and sensitive
treatment in a comfortable, intimate and supportive environment."
President Judith Rodin said she was proud to dedicate this extraordinary
facility, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She
presented Ms. Rowan with a citation which noted that, "Her commitment
to the realization of the Rena Rowan Breast Center and her dedicated
advocacy for the enhancement of women's health serve as inspiration
to the multitudes whose lives have been touched by breast cancer."
Dr. Rodin also noted that Penn students have been involved in
volunteer service activities to benefit breast cancer patients,
including the 5K Rena Rowan Ribbon Run.
Dr. Rodin then thanked the Abramsons for forging a national
model with their gift in 1997, creating The Leonard and Madlyn
Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the Cancer Center
Rena Rowan-Damone, a breast cancer survivor, noted the "wonderful
treatment" she had received at the Penn Cancer Center. She said
it is very fulfilling to be able to give back to the community
considering her difficult beginnings. Born in Poland, she was
exiled to Siberia for three years during World War II with her
mother and sister, separated from her father who was also deported.
After escaping to Tashkent, the family was reunited in Iran,
but her father was killed in an accident in 1944. She married
an American officer and came to the U.S. in 1945. Her four children
were born here; after a divorce she began making clothes for
neighbors and friends to earn money to support her family. This
brought out her talent and led her to the fashion industry. She
had been the EVP of Jones New York until early 2000. Before that
she had been the head designer there until 1980. In 1998 she
married Vic Damone, and today she devotes her time and energy
to helping others.
Dr. Kevin R. Fox, associate professor of hematology-oncology,
will be the medical director of the Rowan Breast Center. There
will be more than 40 Penn scientists, physicians, nurses, counselors,
nutritionists and other health care professionals forming an
interdisciplinary team to serve the unique medical, emotional
and personal needs of breast cancer patients.
The Center's Breast Cancer Risk Evaluation Program, recognized
as one of the foremost in the nation, is directed by renowned
expert in the field, Dr. Barbara L. Weber.
The Center will focus on diagnosing and treating breast cancer
patients at all stages of their disease. Along with patient exam
rooms that reflect Ms. Rowan's creative design, the Center will
house eight private chemotherapy suites equipped with home-like
comforts such as televisions and CD players for those patients
who require five or more hours of chemotherapy treatment.
Another unique feature to the Rena Rowan Breast Center will
be an on-site Boutique staffed with experts who will offer advice
and guidance on selecting prosthetic supplies and cosmetic accessories
such as breast molds, wigs, scarves, and hats.
Additionally, nutrition specialists, rehab instructors and psychological
counselors will be available to the patient, making the transition
through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship go smoothly. Patient
education will be available through the Wellness Center.