A Decade Of Zen – Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation Celebrates A Decade Of Raising Awareness And Inspiring Change In Health, Well-Being, Education, And Preservation Of Culture

2018 Stephan Weiss Apple Awards honored Iman, Jimmy Nelson, and Joel Towers

Press Release – NEW YORK – October 25, 2018 – Commemorating her late husband Stephan Weiss’ legacy and his lasting influence on the vision behind the Urban Zen Foundation, fashion icon Donna Karan hosted the 2018 Stephan Weiss Apple Awards on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at the Stephan Weiss Studio in New York City. Stephan Weiss was a prolific artist and sculptor, the “Apple” refers to Weiss’ larger than life bronze apple sculpture which resides in the Millennium Garden at the Hudson River Park in New York.

The evening began with specialty Casamigos cocktails, where Donna Karan was joined by Bernadette Peters, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Helena Christensen, Deborra-Lee Furness, Keith Richards and Patti Hansen, Christy Turlington Burns, Russell James, Stefano Tonchi, Tiki Barber, Carol Alt, ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Rosanna Scotto, Lauren Bush Lauren, Andrew Saffir, Daniel Benedict, David Kratz, and Zainab Salbi.

The evening continued in the Stephan Weiss Studio, with remarks from Founder of Urban Zen, Donna Karan,

“My husband, Stephan, connected the dots in his art and his life, always seeking to make harmony out of chaos. And throughout his life, he connected the dots between family and friends. He is the inspiration for why I do what I do every day….When I started Urban Zen, I wanted to create a community where we all come together to discuss the issues and deliver solutions. And that’s what we are here tonight to do-to connect the dots, connect to each other and create a community just as Stephan did.” – Donna Karan, Founder of Urban Zen

The awards celebrate luminaries and change makers who are making a difference in the three areas to which the Urban Zen Foundation strives to inspire change and awareness: preservation of culture, healthcare, and education. Past honorees have included President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Honorable Hillary Clinton, Nadja Swarovski and the late Sandy Gallin.

This year’s award ceremony honored Iman, IMAN Cosmetics CEO & Philanthropist; Jimmy Nelson, Photographer & Storyteller and Joel Towers, Executive Dean, Parsons School of Design and will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Urban Zen Foundation.

“Urban Zen is what the universe had in store for Donna…and thankfully for us. Urban Zen Foundation believes in inspiring change in the areas on health and well-being and it starts with community. But most importantly, it is a tribute to love – by taking care of those heroes who are the caregivers worldwide to take care of us holistically as a whole…mind, body and soul.” – IMAN

“I spent 50 years living, traveling, experiencing, loving, crying, hugging, searching for these people and I present them to you today. These are their pictures. This is their story.The beauty the way they look down on all of us, they have something to give us. And if you’re talking about giving, I’ve never met someone who has given more than Donna.” – Jimmy Nelson

“Design enables human action. It’s purposeful. It magnifies capacity. It reveals and conceals who we are. There is literally nowhere on Earth that hasn’t been altered by the intentional action of human beings– which is to say, by design. It is a challenge in our time to design better. We must honor the past, design the present, and preserve the possibility of the future.” – Joel Towers

Donna Karan promoted her mission of addressing change by having guests pose with VOTE signs.

Since its inception, the Urban Zen Foundation has made great strides in realizing its mission. Some of its most significant achievements and highlights throughout the past 10 years, include:

  • Conducting a landmark study at Beth Israel Medical Center, which showed a marked reduction in the intake of pain and nausea meditations among those patients using UZITs, resulting in an estimated cost savings of closer to $1 million on a 24-bed patient.
  • Training more than 850 healthcare professionals in the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) program, including 250 UCLA staff members.
  • Expanding the scope of the UZITs work to provide care in a variety of areas of care, such as oncology, cardiology, hospice, rehabilitation, labor and delivery, and more.
  • UZITs have conducted more than 50,000 documented sessions and brought care to patients, their loved ones and healthcare professionals at hospitals and care centers nationwide.
  • Creating a wellness and youth empowerment initiative with Sow A Seed (SAS) to bring transformative benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to at-risk and impoverished youth, orphans, school children and hospital patients throughout Haiti. This initiative provides service to 15,000 children annually and continues UZF commitment to providing funding and art and educational services to schools throughout Haiti.
  • Collaborated with some of Haiti’s most talented artisans to design the Naturally Haiti Collection, which created 750 jobs, trained over 200 artisans and resulted in $1 million in orders.
  • Co-founded the DOT Center (Design, Organization and Training) in Port-au-Prince in partnership with Parsons School of Design and Haitian artist, Paula Coles. The DOT is the first multi-discipline artisan vocational training and production center in Haiti and provides ongoing education, product development and commercial support for Haitian artisans.
  • Established a design fellowship program, providing 10 scholarships to Parsons graduates to apprentice in Haiti and created 500 new jobs and training opportunities for artisans through the D.O.T. Center.
  • Worked with artisans from 20 different countries to provide design innovation and product development and connect local artisans to a worldwide marketplace.

About Urban Zen

Urban Zen is a luxury lifestyle brand based on the philosophy of its founder, Donna Karan. Inspired by the cultures of the world, Urban Zen is a destination offering ready-to-wear, accessories, furniture and home décor as well as soulful global artisan treasures. The retail experience is a place where you can discover timeless clothing, designed to be dressed up or down and travel with. Available in-season. The brand supports the Urban Zen Foundation, dedicated to preservation of culture, integrative healthcare and education. Urban Zen has three stand-alone stores located in New York City, Sag Harbor, and LA and is also available online at Urbanzen.com.

About Urban Zen Foundation

The Urban Zen Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring change in the areas of Health, Education and Preservation of Culture. Founded by Donna Karan in 2007, UZF believes that creating, connecting, communicating and collaborating is the key to change. To achieve our mission, we develop and manage training programs, provide funding and partner with like-minded organizations for lasting, meaningful results.


Urban Zen Creator: Fashion icon and humanitarian Donna Karan founded Urban Zen in 2007. The foundation was established to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of preservation of culture (past), bringing mind, body and spirit to healthcare (present) and education (future). She is an advocate for artisans around the world who collaborates regularly with traditional artists through the Urban Zen Foundation. For years, the fashion icon and humanitarian has creatively collaborated with international artists in Haiti, Bali, and other locations around the world, to make jewelry, accessories, clothing, and home goods, which are entirely handmade and thoroughly designed. Going through her husband’s battle with cancer led her to develop the groundbreaking Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) Program integrates eastern healing modalities with western science, with over 850 certified therapists of varying levels working throughout the country. A world traveler, a lifelong yogi, as well as mother and grandmother, Karan considers Urban Zen the realization of her dream not just to dress people, but to address them as well.

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