With a heavy heart, CEW honors and bids farewell to Thia Breen, a beloved icon in the beauty industry whose unwavering dedication and tenacity touched the lives of all who knew her.  

Breen died Friday, May 31, following a long and valiant battle with cancer at her Manhattan home surrounded by friends and family, including her sister Kari, her niece Emma Forschler, and her wife Laurie Dowley. 

In a message to friends on Sunday, June 2, Forschler wrote, “Like all things, Thia faced this challenge with overwhelming courage and lived her life to the fullest until the very end. We could not be more grateful for the many years we got to call her beautiful soul ours and know that the profound impact she had on us all will live on forever.”  

Breen was an enormous figure in the beauty and retail industries; for more than 40 years Breen helmed the C-suite at The Estée Lauder Companies. She retired in 2017 at age 66.  

Thia Breen, Mary Dillon, Laurie Dowley

Many in Breen’s wide network of colleagues became friends, all of whom admired her for her no-nonsense sensibility and generosity of spirit. She served on the Board of CEW for many years and was also Chair of the Personal Care Products Council.  

Carlotta Jacobson, President, CEW, said Breen made a practice of returning all calls asking for her guidance, not typical of an executive of her stature. “Her response was that it was her way of giving back,” Jacobson said, adding that she was often on the receiving end of Breen’s advice.  “The advice and support I received from her over the years was invaluable. I admired her and will miss her and so will all the people whose lives she touched,” Jacobson said. “She left a legacy.” 

Thia Breen, Terry Darland, Lynne Greene, Carlotta Jacobson, Veronique Gabai-Pinsky

Breen will be remembered as a mentor, confidante, and friend to many, and for her innate ability to empower those around her, to nurture talent, and to inspire greatness.  

In her memory, let us celebrate not only Breen’s remarkable professional achievements but also the depth of her humanity and the profound impact she had on the lives of so many. 

A formal celebration of Breen’s life is planned for September.   

Farewell, dear Thia.