Clean out your closets to support women in need for 15th annual Suits for Success drive

Gently used professional and business-casual clothing and accessories will be collected at the Alys Stephens Center from March 9-13 from 7-10 a.m.


An idea brought to Birmingham 15 years ago has since launched an annual drive that provides several tons of clothing to women in need each year. That idea was Suits for Success, a clothing drive that collects gently used items for women who need professional and business-appropriate attire for interviews and new employment.  

The annual event is sponsored by the Commission on the Status of Women at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and supports My Sister’s Closet, an outreach program of the YWCA of Central Alabama.

The 15th anniversary of the drive is not only a milestone for the university, but also a significant year for the person who brought the idea to UAB. Ona Faye-Petersen, M.D., a pathologist who also spearheaded Suits for Success, is retiring this spring. She says the drive has been one of the activities she is most proud of.

“I have to say that there are a few things that you want to have in your legacy if you are going to have one, and for me, there have been a couple of things that I’ve done that I’ve really enjoyed and felt like made a difference. One of them is Suits for Success,” Faye-Petersen said. 

SuitsJoomlaShe first learned of the idea to donate gently used professional clothing to benefit other women while she was completing her fellowship in New York City.

“I thought, ‘This is such a wonderful idea. One day, I’m going to do this,’” she said.

Several years later, she brought the idea to UAB and, with the help of many others, held the first Suits for Success in 2006.  

“This wasn’t something I did alone; but I think it also says that, if you have an idea and you really want to have it work, and you are lucky enough to be connected to people who can enable you to reach that dream, you should go for it and you can succeed,” she explained. “It’s become an emblem of UAB, and it really shows the character of the people who work here. It is completely volunteer start to finish and involves the entire community.”  

Laura Tull, a member of the Commission on the Status of Women and past co-chair of Suits for Success, has volunteered at the drive since the first one launched in 2006.

“Ona Faye-Petersen is the reason that we have Suits for Success. She was the driving force to get it started and it would not have been successful without her passion and drive for helping women in our community,” Tull said. “Ona brought me in with open arms and put me right to work. As a young professional, I admired her for setting the example and truly showing me what it means to give back to your community in whatever ways you can. Ona started what has been a career-long experience for me.”

Donations accepted for women include clean suits, jackets, skirts, casual pants, shirts, formal and casual dresses, and accessories (shoes, handbags and jewelry).  

Donations can be dropped off at the lower-level entrance of the Alys Stephens Center between 7-10 a.m. on March 9-13. The address is 1200 10th Avenue South. Additional drop-off locations will be at a number of buildings across the UAB campus for convenience. Sign up here to volunteer. With questions, please contact Christina McClellan at