NEW YORK – Karen Murray, group president of Liz Claiborne Inc., will take a leave of absence from the firm as her son Michael prepares for surgery in April.
Claiborne recently realigned the responsibilities of its group presidents. Murray retained responsibility for international alliances and licensing but relinquished menswear and midtier brands from her duties. Pamela Thomas-Graham, group president for better and moderate apparel, added the areas previously covered by Murray.
However, Murray told MRketplace.com on Thursday that she will be taking a leave of absence, probably beginning next month, as her son Michael Murray, who is afflicted with Marfan Syndrome, an incurable disease of the connective tissue, begins tests leading up to surgery in mid-April.
Karen Murray and son Michael
“I’ve been assured that my job will be here when I’m ready to come back, but Michael is my top priority and I want to be totally focused on that,” she said.
Murray has been a vocal advocate for research and treatment of Marfan since her son’s diagnosis, having served as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Marfan Foundation, which in 2005 awarded her its “Hero With a Heart” citation.
In fact, a Wall Street Journal story of her fight to learn of her son’s condition, written by Kevin Helliker, won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting.
Murray was also a recipient of the 2007 Amy award at the annual awards dinner of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund in January.
She joined Claiborne in 1992 and became president of the Claiborne menswear unit four years later. She was promoted to group president in 2001. Earlier in her career, she served in executive capacities with Gant and Bugle Boy.