Vanessa J. Castagna

Vanessa J. Castagna

Vanessa Castagna was appointed as one of three alumni trustees in February 2013. She received her Bachelor of Science in psychology and speech communication from Purdue in 1971. She has been a retail leader and executive for 38 years, working for blue chip Fortune 50 retail companies, and she is a key retail consultant and advisor to private equity and investment companies.

Castagna is the former chairwoman of Mervyn’s Department Stores, and former CEO and chairwoman of JCPenney Stores, Catalogue and Internet. She began her career with Federated Department Stores and has held senior-level merchandising and operating positions with Wal-Mart and Target stores. She also has been a member of Cerberus Capital Management’s operations team and is the former independent director for Levi Strauss and Co., Carter's/Oshkosh, and Speed Commerce.

Currently, Castagna serves as an advisor and consultant for My Next Season, and serves as member and past chairman of the Purdue University Band and Orchestras Advisory Board. She was recently recognized by the Purdue President’s Council for spearheading a fundraising effort that resulted in a $1.5 million endowment of the AL G. Wright Chair of University Bands.

Ms. Castagna's former affiliations include the advisory board of the School of Business at Southern Methodist University, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, and the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. She is also a past participant in Purdue’s Old Masters program.

In addition, Castagna has volunteered with organizations that positively impact children’s lives, including the Children’s Miracle Network, NYU Medical Center’s Rusk Institute, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America “AfterSchool” Program, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, and the United Way.

Castagna has been honored many times within the retail and apparel manufacturing industry. She was recognized as an industry leader by the Young Menswear Association, as its award recipient in recognition of her outstanding support of educational opportunities for young individuals studying for careers in the apparel industry. She has been listed among Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” four times and on Forbes Magazine's “The 100 Most Powerful Women” list twice.