Joanne Kwong is the President of Pearl River Mart, the iconic NYC Asian emporium established in 1971.
After witnessing the public lament following the 2016 closing of the historic “friendship store,” Joanne left her career as a communications executive and attorney to join her in-laws, the original founders of Pearl River, to resurrect the brand, opening three stores in three years, including locations in Tribeca/Chinatown, Chelsea Market, and the Museum of Chinese in America. A fourth store, focused on Asian foods, is set to open at Chelsea Market in early summer 2020. Under Joanne’s leadership, Pearl River remains the joyful, discovery-filled shopping experience beloved by generations of New Yorkers and visitors. It now also serves as a hub for the Asian American community: hosting performances, events, and art exhibitions; generating digital content about culture and traditions; and serving as springboard for emerging Asian American entrepreneurs, designers and artists. Pearl River’s community-based approach to commerce has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as “the future of retail,” and by New York Magazine as one of its “Reasons to Love NY.”
Joanne is a product of the NYC public schools, and holds degrees from Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, Duke Law School, and Duke Graduate School. She has been a civil litigator, federal judicial clerk, and adjunct law professor. For ten years, she served as Counsel to the President and Vice President for Communications at Barnard College, where she led communications and advocacy efforts during a time of unprecedented growth for the all-women’s college. Joanne is a proud resident of the Upper West Side, where she lives with her husband Gene and sons Milo & Griffin, co-heads of Pearl River’s snack- and toy-testing departments.