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Student Program Speaker Biographies

View the complete Student Program.  

Cheryl Berinato

Cheryl Berinato

Director, Consumer Insights and Strategy
Macy's, Inc.

Cheryl leads all customer experience analytic and reporting functions at Macy’s Inc, which includes customer feedback from all touch points within Macy’s and Bloomingdale's. Cheryl is dedicated to helping executives realize the value of delivering a positive customer experience and the connection between financial results, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.

Cheryl has managed large customer satisfaction and loyalty programs in the financial services and retail industries, and specializes in gleaning insights from these programs to drive a more successful bottom line and change the business for the better. Prior to joining Macy’s, she worked as a senior research director at GfK Custom Research, focusing on customer segmentation, product development and brand strategy. Cheryl also spent several years at UBS Financial Services as part of the marketing research and business strategy teams. 

Ellen Davis

Ellen Davis

Executive Director
NRF Foundation

In March 2012, Ellen Davis was named Senior Vice President of NRF and Executive Director of the NRF Foundation, the education and research arm of NRF.

In this role, Davis has been tasked with restructuring the NRF Foundation to more closely align with NRF’s strategic plan, taking the organization’s multimillion-dollar Retail Means Jobs campaign to the next level by emphasizing retail’s contributions to the economy and the diverse career opportunities available within the industry. She also oversees a team managing NRF research projects, professional retail certification and training programs, initiatives to develop the next generation of retail leaders, and university partnerships. Additionally, Davis serves as a chief spokesperson for NRF on retail industry trends.

Davis joined NRF in 2002 as manager of media relations, continuing in positions of greater responsibility until being named vice president in 2008. During her tenure, she led the team responsible for NRF consumer research and industry trends as well as NRF communication vehicles, including social media, NRF SmartBrief, and Retail’s BIG Blog. Most recently, she played a key role in the implementation of NRF's multimillion-dollar Retail Means Jobs campaign, a strategic initiative that highlights the retail industry's role in job creation and innovation. 

As a retail industry expert, Davis has appeared on dozens of broadcast news programs including Your World with Neil Cavuto, CNBC's Squawk Box, and Good Morning America. She has also been quoted numerous times in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Her posts on Retail's BIG Blog about top industry trends continue to be among the most read on the site. In addition, Davis has appeared as a keynote speaker at industry conferences including the National Confectioners Association’s Candy EXPO and the National Stationery Show.

After coining the phrase “Cyber Monday,” which is now considered by the media, consumers, and retailers as the official kickoff of the online holiday shopping season, Davis was named one of “15 to watch” by PR Week magazine, a prominent trade publication for communications professionals.

Prior to joining NRF, Davis worked at a retail advertising agency in St. Louis. She also served as a media spokesperson for the Annual Better Homes & Gardens/Barbie mall tour in 2001.

Davis graduated with a degree in communication from Millikin University in Decatur, IL. She was born and raised in Galesburg, IL, and now lives with her husband and son in Arlington, VA.

Mindy Grossman

Erin Donley

Assistant Merchant
Victoria's Secret

A graduate of FIDM and DePaul University with degrees in merchandise managing and
journalism, Erin Donley “grew up” in the retail industry – working from a holiday season “stock girl” at Liz Claiborne in high school, to her current role as an Assistant Merchant for the international brand Victoria’s Secret. Erin says, “It’s so exciting to look back on all the different experiences, lessons, and opportunities that brought me full circle, and even more exciting to think about how much farther I can go in the future.”

Mindy Grossman

Mindy Grossman

Chief Executive Officer
HSN, Inc.

Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc. (NASDAQ: HSNI) oversees a $3.2 billion direct-to-consumer retail portfolio which includes the HSN and Cornerstone businesses. HSN is a leading interactive multichannel retailer that offers a curated assortment of exclusive products and top brand names. Cornerstone is a multichannel retailer of lifestyle brands including Frontgate, Garnet Hill and Ballard Designs.

Since 2006, Ms. Grossman has led the transformation of HSN into a lifestyle network, diversifying its portfolio of brands and personalities and fusing relationships between the entertainment and retail communities. Ms. Grossman has evolved the traditional TV network into a multiplatform business and today, is a top-ten most trafficked e-commerce site, with digital accounting for more than 35% of HSN's total revenues. Ms. Grossman has led HSN's expansion into mobile, which includes the development of applications for the iPhone, Android, and iPad. In 2011, she oversaw the launch of the first interactive gaming and shopping portal, HSN Arcade.

Prior to taking HSNi public in 2008, Ms. Grossman had been Chief Executive Officer of IAC Retailing, a division of Interactive Corporation, primarily comprised of the HSN and Cornerstone brands. A 35-year veteran of the retail industry, Ms. Grossman previously served as a corporate officer and Global Vice President of Nike, Inc., and led Nike’s $4 billion apparel business from 2000 to 2006. Prior to that, she launched and was President and CEO of Polo Jeans Company from 1995 to 2000. She also held senior positions at Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

In 2012, Forbes magazine named Ms. Grossman one of the world’s 100 most powerful women, an honor she has received three times. In 2011, she was named Corporate Innovator of the Year at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Florida Awards, and was recognized as one of Fast Company's Top 100 Most Creative People in Business. In both 2010 and 2011, Ms. Grossman was ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top 50 women in world business. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Retail Federation, Fisker Automotive, Bloomin’ Brands and U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Mindy Grossman

Brittany Huppert

Trend Coordinator
Kohl's Department Stores

Brittany is a 2010 graduate of Indiana University, with a degree in Apparel Merchandising and Business. She has worked both store and corporate sides of the retail industry. In her current role as Trend Coordinator for Kohl’s Department Stores, Brittany analyzes the latest runway, street and retail trends – focusing specifically on accessories and footwear. She is captivated by the dynamic pace of the industry and the influence technology and social media has on the way that people think, dress and shop in the 21st century.

Mindy Grossman

Jennifer Hyman

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
Rent the Runway

Jennifer Hyman is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Rent the Runway, a business that delivers Cinderella experiences by enabling women to rent designer dresses and accessories for all of the special occasions in their lives. Since Rent the Runway’s launch in November 2009, Jennifer has managed all areas of the business including technology, fashion, sales, marketing, operations, customer service and team management, while also serving as a company spokesperson.   Most well-known within the entrepreneurial and fashion communities for her unmatched marketing abilities, Jennifer was named as the Chief Marketing Officer of Fortune magazine’s “Executive Dream Team.”

Jennifer has been honored with numerous recognitions including Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40 Class of 2012”; Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” and “40 Under 40”; Inc. Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30”; Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology”;’s “Most Influential People in New York Fashion”; and Fashion Group International’s “Rising Stars,” among others. She has also appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today Show.

Jennifer co-founded Rent the Runway with her Harvard Business School classmate Jennifer Fleiss.  After receiving approximately $31 million in venture capital from Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, they quickly built the company to include 3 million members, over 180 employees and 160 designer brands. Rent the Runway democratizes luxury fashion by enabling women to rent designer dresses and accessories that they may otherwise not have access to, for all of the special occasions in their lives.

Prior to Rent the Runway, Jennifer was the Director of Business Development at IMG where she focused on the creation of new media businesses for IMG's Fashion Division. She also ran an online advertising sales team at and was an in-house entrepreneur at Starwood Hotels, creating Starwood’s first wedding business which was recognized on the Oprah Winfrey Show for its innovation. 

Jennifer received her BA from Harvard University and MBA from Harvard Business School.  She currently resides in New York City where she is a Bloomberg Fellow, on the Entreprenuership Board at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Brian Malkin

Brian Malkin

Manager, Fine Watches - Bridges Watches

Originally from California, Brian graduated from the University of Arizona in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Business Marketing. While in school, Brian was recruited by Macy's and placed in their Executive Development Training Program. Upon completion of the program he worked as a Men’s Store Manager and then a Ready to Wear Manager before being invited to participate in the Store Leadership Development Program. This past March Brian relocated to NYC to be the Manager of Fine Watches-Bridge Watches at the Macy's Herald Square store. Today, Brian’s role is to drive sales through Macy's MAGIC Selling and ensure his associates deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Herman Nell

Herman Nell

Vice President Information Technology & CIO

Herman Nell is Vice President Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for PETCO, a multi-billion dollar pet specialty retail leader, with more than 1,000 stores in all 50 states across the U.S.

Mr. Nell joined PETCO in 2008 as a senior business executive, bringing more than twenty years of global management experience in the fields of information technology, accounting and finance, as well as extensive experience in large-scale enterprise systems transformations.

Before joining PETCO, he most recently served as Executive Vice President and CIO for School Specialty Inc., a consumer goods supplier to the education and retail industries based in Greenville, WI. Previously, he held the same position at FISKARS Brands, Inc. Also held were senior roles in information technology at Motorola and the Medusa Corporation, and was a principal consultant for Deloitte & Touche LLP.

Nell is a founding member of the Technology Leadership Forum of the Retail Industry Leadership Association. He earned a master's degree in business economics from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. 

Jerry O'Brien

Jerry O'Brien

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kohl's Department Stores
Center for Retailing Excellence

Jerry O’Brien is in his 5th year as the Director of the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The mission of the Center is to provide a point of synergy between retailing and related industries, and the world class faculty, staff and students of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In addition to his classroom work, Jerry has created and delivered presentations to retailers such as True Value, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Lowe’s, Consumer Products company Bradley Caldwell, and industry groups both locally in the Madison, WI area and nationally for the National Association or Retail Merchandising Specialists and the national convention of the Consumer Cooperative Management Association.  Jerry has a passion for the retailing business and helping the industry connect with customers.

Prior to his position as director, Jerry spent 27 years in various positions with the Target Corporation, primarily in store operations and recruiting.  

Lydia Schulz

Lydia Schulz

VP & GM, Retail Industry
American Express

Lydia Schulz is Vice President and GM for the retail industry group within Global Merchant Services at American Express. In this role, Lydia has responsibility for building and managing partnerships with many of American Express’ largest US retail clients. Prior to this role, Lydia held several other positions in her 13 years at American Express, including VP, Global Commercial Card, in which she worked with companies to develop global expense management programs, and Director of Investments & Business Development. Her first role at American Express was in the Interactive Enterprise Development group, in which she developed digital payment solutions and partnerships. Before joining American Express, Lydia was an investment banker at ING Baring Furman Selz. She began her career at the Federal Reserve, in Bank Examinations. Lydia holds a BA in Political Science and Economics, from Barnard College, Columbia University and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School. Lydia lives in Summit, NJ with her husband and three daughters.

Laura Sen

Laura Sen

President and Chief Executive Officer
BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. 

Laura Sen is President and Chief Executive Officer of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. and serves on its Board of Directors. She has had a 30 year career in retail, and was appointed to her current positions in February 2009. Ms. Sen most recently guided BJ’s through a successful acquisition, at the conclusion of which in September 2011 the Company was taken private by Leonard Green Partners and CVC Capital Partners.

Ms. Sen began her career in retail shortly after her graduation from Boston College in 1978 when she joined storied Boston retailer Jordan Marsh as an Executive Trainee. In 1979 she moved to Zayre Corporation, a discount chain based in Natick, Massachusetts. Over the next 10 years she held positions of increasing responsibility at Zayre, including, Buyer and Assistant Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager.

In 1989 Zayre Corporation sold its name plate to Ames Department Stores, and shortly thereafter BJ’s was spun off as part of Waban, Inc. (In 1997, BJ’s became an independent, publicly traded company.)  Ms. Sen joined BJ’s shortly after the spinout as Assistant Vice President, Manager of Logistics. In 1991 she was promoted to Vice President, Logistics Director; in 1993 she became Senior Vice President, General Merchandise Manager of Non-Food; and in 1997 she assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Merchandising.

In 2003, Ms. Sen left BJ’s to work as an independent consultant. She returned to the Company in January 2007 as Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Logistics to join the team seeking to turn around the Company after several years of disappointing results. She was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer in January 2008, and in February 2009 she became President and Chief Executive Officer and joined the Board.

Ms. Sen is active in the retail industry and her community. In January 2012, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of rue21. As well, she serves on the Boards of the National Retail Federation, The Pine Street Inn (the largest homeless shelter in New England), Dana Farber Cancer Institute and The Boston Ballet. She is involved with the 21st Century Fund, Brookline High School’s venture capital for education initiative; ATASK (Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence); the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP); and The American Heart Association. She also works with St. Coletta & Cardinal Cushing Schools of Massachusetts in Hanover.

Matthew Shay

Matthew Shay

President and CEO
National Retail Federation

Matthew Shay became President and CEO of the National Retail Federation in May 2010. As top executive of the world’s largest retail trade association, he serves as the chief advocate for an industry with more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that create jobs for more than 42 million workers and generate $2.5 trillion in annual sales. Beyond U.S. borders, Shay represents NRF global membership that includes retailers and industry partners in more than 45 nations.

Shay is credited with leading NRF to new levels of effectiveness on policy issues, increasing awareness of the industry’s economic contributions and emphasizing political activity. Under his leadership, the NRF adopted a new strategic plan that identifies advocacy, communication and education as key priorities. This initiative provides significant new financial and human resources to government relations and advocacy, a new approach to communications and public affairs, and increased focus on delivering value to members of NRF. Under his leadership, NRF held the most successful Annual Convention in its 100-year history while scoring a number of legislative victories on behalf of the retail industry.

Shay previously served as President and CEO of the International Franchise Association, which represents more than 1,200 franchise companies in retail and other industries around the world. During his time as CEO, the IFA adopted an aggressive public policy agenda. Among other things, this led to a series of initiatives to restore the flow of credit to cash-strapped retail and other franchise businesses during the national recession.

Shay has been recognized by CEO Update as one of the top 50 non-profit chief executives in Washington. He serves on a number of boards and committees, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Association Committee of 100 representing the nation’s leading trade and industry groups.

Shay is a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and The Ohio State University College of Law, and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.

Shay and his wife Allison live in Arlington, VA with their three young children.

Kip Tindell

Kip Tindell

Chairman and CEO
The Container Store, Inc.

Kip Tindell has been at the helm of The Container Store since it first opened its doors in Dallas in 1978 – creating the first ever store devoted solely to storage and organization products.  With stores nationwide and a thriving Web site, Tindell continues his commitment to being a trailblazing retailer.  In fact, Tindell recently received the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Gold Medal Award, the most coveted award in retail, given to individuals who have served the industry with distinction and achieved a national reputation for excellence. The recipients have also displayed inspirational leadership and have won the respect of fellow merchants for devotion to the retail craft.  

But for Tindell, the goal never has been growth for growth’s sake.  Rather, it’s to adhere to a fundamental set of corporate values, centered around an intense employee commitment, strict merchandising and superior customer service.  Success has been the natural and inevitable result.  Privately held, the retailer has posted a compounded annual growth rate of 26% since its inception.  With 2012 fiscal year sales projected to reach $750 million, the originators of the storage and organization category of retailing remain the leaders in an industry that thrives.  

Tindell continues to embody the unique corporate culture he created, and has nurtured a fierce employee loyalty that has landed the company on FORTUNE magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” the last 13 years.  

Tindell enjoys spending time with Sharon at their ranch in Colorado, traveling, fly fishing and golf.  He is actively involved in the community as a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming children’s futures by serving at-risk families in the Greater Dallas area and sits on the CEO Advisory Council for the Dallas Arboretum.  Tindell also serves on the board of Whole Foods Market (WFMI), the National Retail Federation’s executive board and chairs the National Retail Federation’s Foundation.  He is a leader and passionately involved in Conscious Capitalism, Inc., a community of like-minded business, thought and academic leaders working to elevate humanity through a conscious approach to business.

Amanda Varnadore

Amanda Varnadore

Southern Division Human Resources Manager

Amanda graduated in 2009 from Georgia Southern University with a BBA in Marketing with an emphasis in Fashion Merchandising. After graduation, she began working as an Executive Trainee for Belk in Greenville, SC. Upon completion of the Executive Trainee Program, she spent time in Port Orange, FL as a New Store Trainer for three months prior moving to Myrtle Beach, SC as a Sales Team Manager. Amanda spent a year as a Sales Team Manager before moving to her current location in Atlanta, GA as a Southern Division Human Resources Assistant Manager where her responsibilities include recruiting and training for stores in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.

Anne Voller

Anne Voller

Vice President, Talent Acquisition
Macy's, Inc.

Anne Voller is the Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Macy’s, Inc., one of the nation’s premier retailers, with fiscal 2011 sales of $26.4 billion. The Macy’s brand operates about 800 Macy’s department stores and furniture galleries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as The Bloomingdale’s brand includes 37 department stores and home stores in 11 states,, seven Bloomingdale’s Outlet stores in five states, and a licensed store in Dubai.

Voller joined May Department Stores in 1987 and has held numerous positions in learning and development, human resources, customer service and recruitment. In 1996, she was promoted to Director, Customer Service for May Department Stores.  In 2001, she was named Director, College Recruiting for May Department Stores.  Voller joined Macy’s in August 2006 as Director, College Initiatives and was promoted to her current position in February, 2009. 

Voller currently sits on the Central Advisory Board for the Terry J Lundgren, Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona and has served on the Board of Directors for NACE, National Association of Colleges and Employers, from 2008 to 2010 as Director of Employment.

A California native, Voller earned her bachelor’s degree at California State University at Fullerton in Business, Marketing/Retail. She currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and son.

Jim Wright

Jim Wright

Executive Chairman
Tractor Supply Company

Jim Wright is the Executive Chairman of Tractor Supply Company, a $4.2 billion, NASDAQ Traded (TSCO), retail farm and ranch store chain with over 1,100 locations. He joined the company as the President and Chief Operating Officer in November 2000, was named CEO in 2004, Chairman in 2007 and was appointed Executive Chairman Dec. 31, 2012.

Before moving to Nashville, Wright was President and Chief Executive Officer of a 150-store chain of tire stores headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a career retailer having held executive positions with Western Auto Supply Company in Kansas City, Missouri and K-Mart Corporation in Troy, Michigan.

Wright served as a Board Member and Lead Director of Spartan Stores, a NASDAQ traded $2.8 billion food distribution and retailing company, from 2002 until 2011. He is currently a Board member of H&R Block and the National Retail Federation. Previously Jim was Chairman of AAIA a 1,700-member trade association. 

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