Ireland is chairwoman, chief executive officer and chief designer of kathy ireland Worldwide, which markets 15,000 products. Forbes Magazine says her company has annual merchandise sales of $2 billion. Institute officials also characterized her as a “powerful advocate for women and children in need.”
The school gave Ireland and Cheryl Merchant honorary doctor of humane letter degrees. Merchant is president and chief executive officer of Rhode Island’s Hope Global, a 131-year-old textile manufacturing company that employs 700 people around the world. “If I can do it, you can do it,” Ireland told the standing-room-only audience at the Rhode Island Convention Center.