Rollins

In Memory: Stacy Van Praagh ’93

December 11, 2023

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Stacy Van Praagh ’93
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins pays tribute to the enduring impact of Stacy Van Praagh ’93, who will always be remembered for her contributions as a compassionate graduate, mentor, and student-focused trustee.

Trustee and global fashion executive Stacy Van Praagh ’93 passed away on November 26 at the age of 52 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Van Praagh brought her characteristic passion, positivity, and personality to every endeavor she took on, leaving an indelible impact on the College and all those who knew her.

“Stacy’s love for all things Rollins showed in everything she did,” says President Grant Cornwell. “She was an outstanding trustee and a generous mentor for many Rollins students. Stacy was a center of gravity, connecting people together, and Stacy was a dear friend. Rollins has lost one of our true champions.”

Trustee Stacy Van Praagh '93 at an alumni event alongside President Grant Cornwell
Van Praagh at an alumni event alongside President Grant Cornwell.Photo by Scott Cook.

Born in Washington, D.C., Van Praagh was raised in Wilton, Connecticut, before moving to Florida to attend Rollins, where she majored in international relations. She began her career at Chanel as the ready-to-wear office assistant and quickly rose through the ranks during her 8½ years, ultimately becoming the sales director. She went on to assume leadership roles at fashion houses like Kate Spade, Oscar de la Renta, Fendi, and most recently, Alexander McQueen, where she served as president of the Americas.

For her distinguished accomplishments, Van Praagh received Rollins’ Alumni Achievement Award in 2013, the same year she was elected to the Rollins Board of Trustees.

“From her days as a student to her days on the Board of Trustees, Stacy was motivated by making things better,” shares Sam Stark ’91, the College’s vice president for communications and external relations, who attended Rollins with Van Praagh. “What I will always remember Stacy for is her kindness, humility, and care for people. Stacy never wanted anyone to be impressed by her success. She only wanted Rollins to be better. She helped so many students and always gave the gift of her time to any student who asked for it.”

Trustee Stacy Van Praagh '93 with mentee Phillip Denizard '16
Van Praagh served as a mentor to Phillip Denizard ’16 (left), who has gone on to a successful career in the fashion industry.Photo by Scott Cook.

Students like Phillip Denizard ’16, whose close mentorship with Van Praagh started with him simply introducing himself to her as a student interested in fashion. Denizard remembers her generosity as well as her efforts in facilitating opportunities for him at fashion companies L’Eclaireur, Givenchy, and Gucci.

“Stacy quite literally changed my life and its trajectory,” says Denizard, who’s now a planning manager at Fendi. “She wouldn't just show you which doors to knock on, but she’d knock on them for you, consistently and earnestly. She bestowed her wealth of knowledge and expertise upon me in ways that prepared me to pursue my dreams of a career in fashion with a compass and guidebook. My dreams of working in luxury fashion in NYC wouldn’t have been possible—let alone as well-positioned—without her generosity, kindness, and willingness to develop future talent. She’d credit my initiative for having sought her out, but I never could’ve planned to find a leader who remains among the most inspiring, motivating, and human-centered people I’ve met in the career she was so instrumental in helping me build.”

During her 10 years as a trustee, Van Praagh consistently provided thoughtful and insightful feedback at the highest level, maintaining an unwavering enthusiasm for Rollins’ programs and fostering social change.

“Stacy thoroughly enjoyed meeting and mentoring students,” says Carroll Hanley Goggin ’85 P’15, who served with Van Praagh on the board for the past decade. “I can’t remember a board meeting where she wasn’t meeting outside of our schedule with current students interested in careers in fashion or looking to move to New York City. She believed to her core that mentoring and giving back were mandatory. She was a tireless volunteer who used every opportunity to give of her experience, talents, and resources. She was a mentor, leader, and teacher who loved the concept of being a lifelong learner.”

Trustee Stacy Van Praagh '93 at a NYC alumni event alongside her husband Giles
Van Praagh at a NYC alumni event alongside her husband, Giles (second from right).Photo by Scott Cook.

Whether it was mentoring Rollins students, advancing the College’s goals as a board member, or spearheading the growth of iconic fashion houses, she leaves a legacy of highly engaged leadership and a reverberating impact at Rollins that will endure for generations to come.

“I will remember her warm greetings—she was a hugger,” says Goggin, “and her large smile and genuine interest in people around her. She was stylish, passionate, energetic, and joyful. We could always count on Stacy to engage at the deepest level no matter the topic. She loved her family. She loved Rollins. She loved life. Her death is a profound loss to me and the many people who she came to know.”


Honor Her Legacy

Gifts in memory of Van Praagh can be made to Rollins by visiting rollins.college/honorstacy.

A commemorative bench will be placed on campus in her honor.


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