The 2024 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference speaker lineup boasts a robust range of expertise on matters affecting the food industry today.
The 2024 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference speaker lineup boasts a robust range of expertise on matters affecting the food industry today.
As Senior Vice President, Chief Merchant and Marketing Officer, Stuart is responsible for sales, pricing, promotional and category planning for Fresh foods, Center Store and General Merchandise, as well as Analytics & Execution, e-Commerce and Digital Merchandising, Fuel and Our Brands. As Chief Marketing officer, Stuart led the company through a brand transformation which was revealed in November of 2019 and continues to enhance our brand reputation as a company that is inclusive and a leader in Fresh through our brand campaign, Fresh for Everyone. He leads a diverse team who work collaboratively to put the consumer at the center of every business decision.
Stuart joined Kroger as CEO of 84.51°, Kroger’s data analytics arm. Before leading 84.51°, he served as CEO of dunnhumby USA, LLC for six years. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and chief marketing officer for arts-and-crafts retailer, Michael’s Stores, and for nearly a decade, he led marketing strategies, loyalty marketing, data analytics, innovation and category management at Safeway. Stuart was a software programmer in Silicon Valley and a Technology professor in Scotland, where he taught AI, analytics and small business management.
Twyla leads our food and mass business in the US. She has over 25 years of experience with leading organization in the CPG industry such as Frito-Lay, Nabisco, Kraft Foods in addition to Mondelēz International. Twyla has held many leadership positions in Sales, Operations and Strategy. Earlier career assignments included Sr Director of Operations & Strategy, Region Vice President, Customer Vice President, Kroger and currently SVP, Sales.
Doug Baker is a food retail industry relations vice president for FMI – The Food Industry Association where he facilitates professional, non-competitive collaboration among member communities across private brands, technology, and grocery resilience issue areas.
In addition to his facilitation of the private brands leadership council and their efficiency-driven initiatives to encourage brand owner innovation, Doug also oversees FMI’s CIO Council, the Industry Collaboration Council and joint industry initiative, SmartLabel . Prior to FMI, Doug began his career in the food retail industry in 1984 with Fry’s Food Stores. His 30+ years in food retail have included leadership roles at Fry’s (a division of Kroger), Kraft/Nabisco and Federated Group with focuses on retail operations, consumer packaged goods and private brand development and marketing.
Mark Baum currently serves as Senior Vice President of Industry Relations and Chief Collaboration Officer for FMI. In this role, Baum engages retailer, manufacturer, supplier, and service provider CEOs to further trading partner collaboration, leading to operational improvements and growth opportunities across all segments of the food retail supply chain. Prior to joining FMI, Baum was a Managing Partner of MARCAT Group, LLC a consulting/advisory firm specializing in business, market, channel, and customer development. Baum is known for his intricate knowledge of every aspect of the food, beverage and related businesses, and is recognized among the foremost experts in the design, management, and execution of strategy, sales, marketing, and merchandising activities throughout the industry.
David Best joined Coborn’s Inc as President and COO in August of 2023 and leads a talented team responsible for Merchandising, Marketing, Operations, Human Resources, Retail Services and Market Development. With a proud 100+ year history, Coborn’s is a leading independent grocery, pharmacy and liquor retailer with locations across the Upper Midwest under the Coborn’s, Cash Wise, Marketplace Foods, Sullivan’s, Tadych’s and Hornbacher’s banners. David is working across the Coborn’s team to develop a new strategic roadmap to fuel the next phase of growth.
Prior to Coborn’s, David worked for General Mills leading Omnichannel and Strategic Capabilities. In his time, he led a comprehensive transformation of the e-commerce business, resulting in over $1.5B in growth, market share growth and improved profitability. He and his team developed leading capabilities that supported General Mills’ roster of winning brands, including Category Management, Retail Media, Digital Shelf, Shopper Marketing, Shopper Insights, Data & Analytics, Operating Model and Trade/Pricing.
David also spent 19 years with Target Corp, where he had a variety of roles within Merchandising, Supply Chain and Business Development. Over the course of his career at Target, David served as Senior Vice President, Merchandise Planning, Vice President & General Manager, New Store Formats; Sr. Director, Dry Grocery/Dairy/Frozen Foods and Director, Pet Care. David is a strong believer in the power of team and has invested in developing talent at all levels of the organization, including serving as executive sponsor of one of Target’s Diversity Organizations, focused on onboarding new, diverse talent to Target.
David is a graduate of Carleton College with a degree in Economics and has an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Outside of work, he is husband to Stacy and father of Oliver (13) and Finn (11). They love to travel the world and enjoy the outdoors.
is a chemical engineer by training and started his career out in Research
and Development for a large branded food manufacturer in Chicago. He helped
launch a range of products across a portfolio of brands included Angies Boom
Chicka Pop, Slim Jim, Snack Pack and More. Currently, Alex leads Plug and
Play's Venture team for Food and Beverage where he both invests in
pre-seed/seed stage startups, and helps match Fortune 500 companies with
innovative startups globally.
Sandy Douglas, has served as our Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board since August 2021. He most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of Staples, Inc. from April 2018 to June 2021, which included leading that company’s business-to-business distribution platform. Prior to Staples, Mr. Douglas served as President of Coca-Cola North America until February 2018, where he led the $10 billion revenue business, encompassing all aspects of its consumer and business-to-business operations. During Mr. Douglas’ 30-year tenure at Coca-Cola, he also served as Global Chief Customer Officer, and held a variety of positions across sales and marketing. Mr. Douglas began his career at The Procter & Gamble Company in sales and sales management positions. Since May 2020, Mr. Douglas has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Wawa Inc., a leading convenience retailer in the Eastern United States.
Will England oversees all Asset Protection, Risk Management and Regulatory Compliance efforts for Weis Markets, a Pennsylvania based grocer operating 200 stores, three manufacturing facilities, and a distribution center across seven states. Will has over twenty-five years in Asset Protection leadership roles, with seventeen years spent in the grocery industry. Will has served as the Vice-Chair of the FMI Asset Protection Counsel for the last two years
Leo Feler is the Chief Economist at Numerator and a Senior Economist and Professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. At Numerator, Dr. Feler is responsible for thought leadership on economics and consumer behavior and publishes monthly reports on consumer price inflation, retail sales, consumer sentiment, and the labor market. At UCLA, Dr. Feler teaches courses on business forecasting and entry into emerging markets and prepares quarterly US economic forecasts. Previously, Dr. Feler advised the US government and private sector companies on mergers and antitrust litigation. Dr. Feler has also taught at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a consultant with Boston Consulting Group and the World Bank. Dr. Feler holds a PhD in economics from Brown University and degrees in economics and international policy from Stanford University.
Ross Finman is the CEO and founder of Augmodo, which provides a live "realogram" of stores using passive wearable cameras for out of stock detection, compliance, and product location data. Ross previously was General Manager at Niantic (makers of Pokemon Go), founding their Augmented Reality platform and defining the AR strategy for the largest AR games in the world. Before Niantic, he was CEO and co-founder of an Augmented Reality computer vision start up, which he sold to Niantic in 2017. Ross did his PhD work at MIT in Computer Vision / AI, and grew up on a llama farm in northern Idaho.
is the Head of Digital Supply Chain Transformation at Kraft Heinz for North
America, leading the design, development and deployment of best-in-class
digital solutions across Sales Forecasting, Production Planning, Inventory
Management, Logistics and Customer Service. In this role, his goal is to build
an autonomous supply chain that delivers best in class customer service and
operational excellence sustainably.
Diego has 15 years of experience in supply chain and technology and joined Kraft Heinz in 2014 and has held several leadership roles including Director of Logistics Capabilities and Senior Director of Supply Chain Execution. Prior to Kraft Heinz, Diego has worked with companies such as Caterpillar, DIAGEO, Walmart and Nestle with international assignments in Latin America and China, acquiring expertise in strategy, analytics, operations management, technology, CPG and retail.
Diego holds an MBA from MIT with a focus on operations management, and a comuter engineering degree from Instituto Militar de Engenharia. and is also certified in lean six sigma, scaled agile development and digital transformation. He is highly motivated by the mission of Kraft Heinz to make life delicious and the opportunity to lead a diverse and talented team.
With over 13 years of experience as an operations improvement and digital expert, I have a proven track record of building, automating, and digitizing manufacturing plants. In my previous professional life, I dedicated myself to transforming manufacturing processes. For the past two years, I've been contributing my expertise to KHC, where I drive the digital manufacturing journey across functions, addressing critical issues and identifying the users of digital solutions from the top floor to the shop floor.
Brian George joined the Company in June 2005. He received his undergraduate degree and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. He is a CPA in the state of North Carolina. His experience prior to joining the Company includes over 5 years in Accounting and Finance with companies such as Arthur Andersen, LLP, Donlen Corporation, and Bank of America. He served on the Audit Staff at Arthur Andersen, LLP and as a Staff Accountant at Donlen Corporation. At Bank of America, he served as a Financial Analyst. Since joining the Company as a Management Trainee, he has served as Lowes Foods Co-Manager and Store Manager. He has also served as Manager Retail Development, and Vice President Sales at MDI. He was named President of Alex Lee, Inc. in 2011, added CEO to his title in 2014 and became Chairman in 2018.
Bobby Gibbs is a Partner in the Retail & Consumer Goods practice at Oliver Wyman. During his projects, Bobby has focused on capabilities building in pricing, promotions, and discount management enabled by advanced analytics, tool development and employee engagement. Bobby is a contributing author to Retail Revolution, Oliver Wyman’s study on major trends in the industry and co-authored numerous articles on industry trends including for the Harvard Business Review. Bobby is on the leadership for Next Best Basket™, Oliver Wyman’s capability for retail personalization.
Bobby has presented on industry trends for several FMI audiences (Board of Directors, Industry Relations Council, Growth Forum), the American Meat Conference, the Texas Insurance Academy, as well as client audiences. He is a frequent commentator on industry trends in print, radio and television with recent interviews for NBC News, APM Marketplace, the Washington Post, Forbes, Winsight Grocery Business, Progressive Grocer, the Dallas Morning News, KMOX Saint Louis and others.
In her role as the Vice President of Resource Development and Partnerships, Laura provides leadership, influences strategic direction, plans and executes national events, identifies, and generates volunteer resources to support the JA volunteer network, including external constituents and local JA Area staff. Her work focuses on developing high quality and sustainable relationships with corporate and association/organization partners to increase the quantity, diversity, and quality of JA partners. Additionally, Laura works cross functionally to ensure a positive JA experience by all stakeholders that will increase the connection to Junior Achievement with the goal of strengthening commitments and developing advocates. Laura has been with the Junior Achievement organization since 2006 working both at the local JA Area level and in various roles with the National office.
Francesca Hahn is responsible for the strategy, vision, and execution of Digital Commerce including how our brands are experienced, purchased, and fulfilled online, including Pureplay, Omnichannel, eB2B, and two Direct to Consumer sites. Francesca joined Mondelēz in April 2021 and has held Sales, Category Management, and Changement roles with Britax Child Safety, Colgate-Palmolive, Acosta Sales and Marketing, PepsiCo, and Diageo.
Francesca is the Executive Sponsor for the Women Sales Leadership Network, a powerful ERG tasked to Attract, Develop, Retain, and Advance Women at Mondelēz International.
Mondelēz International makes and sells primarily snacks, with iconic global and local brands such as OREO, Ritz, belVita, Cadbury and Toblerone chocolate, Sour Patch Kids candy, and HALLS.
Andrew S. Harig currently serves as Vice President, Tax, Trade, Sustainability & Policy Development at FMI-The Food Industry Association. In this position, he is responsible for lobbying Congress and the Administration on behalf of FMI members, with a primary focus on agriculture, taxes, trade, sustainability, food waste, and pensions. Prior to joining FMI, Andy was an associate trade advisor and speechwriter for the Senate Finance Committee under its Chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT). From 1999-2001, he was the senior research associate for the Global Economic Policy Project at the New America Foundation, a Washington, DC-based think tank. Andy holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.
Jennifer Hatcher serves as Chief Public Policy Officer and Senior Vice President, Government Affairs for FMI - the Food Industry Association, overseeing federal, state and regulatory efforts on public policy, legislative and political issues impacting the supermarket industry. She has held this position since April 2009 and has been at FMI in the government relations area since March 1998.
Prior to coming to FMI, Jennifer served as Chief of Staff to United States Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL). Jennifer also served as Special Assistant and White House Liaison at the Department of the Treasury during President George H.W. Bush’s Administration. Jennifer has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Communication from Vanderbilt University and a Masters in Government from Johns Hopkins University.
Jennifer has participated in a variety of congressional briefings and panels and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Committee on Ways and Means and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Gary Hawkins has lived his career ahead of the curve, putting him in the right place at the right time to help guide the fast-moving consumer goods retail industry into the future in a time of exponential technology growth using never-before-available capabilities to innovate the future of shopping.
Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of CART (Center for Advancing Retail & Technology). CART’s mission is to connect retail to new innovative capabilities through programs, events, and education. Knowing that awareness and discovery of new technologies are only one part of future success, the CART team is at the forefront of helping retailers, wholesalers, brand manufacturers, and solution providers cultivate a culture of innovation and agility through a proven process and approach. On the other side of innovation lies strategy development, technology roadmaps, and systems assessments. Hawkins and his team are uniquely positioned to assist retailers in preparing for the future.
Hawkins leverages his unique perspective into his role as board member and strategic adviser at select companies bringing exciting and game-changing capabilities to the market. Retail Mindsteps (retailmindsteps.com) serves as Hawkins’ personal blog and repository of the myriad articles and papers written for industry publications where he distills the complexity of tech-fueled retail innovation into digestible and actionable insights. Hawkins is the author of three books including the latest, Retail in the Age of ‘i’, that explores the future of retail propelled by the exponential growth of technology. In addition, Hawkins is a regular guest lecturer at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in addition to keynoting retail conferences in the US and abroad.
Katie Hotze is the CEO and Founder of Grocery Shopii, a Charlotte-based tech startup that uses machine learning to fuel online grocery shopping with fresh recipe content. With over 20 years of experience in digital marketing, data analytics, and business strategy, Katie was able to turn a personal frustration with online grocery shopping into a nationally-recognized retail tech disrupter that’s rapidly expanding in North America.
Founded in 2019, Grocery Shopii was developed to breathe new life into the commercial grocery industry. Continuously filled with fresh, chef-inspired recipes sourced from top food bloggers and brands, the platform not only streamlines meal planning but also reduces grocery shopping from hours to minutes–all from the device of your choice.
Prior to launching Grocery Shopii, Katie worked in management and technology consulting for two decades, leading global marketing teams at Mercer and BearingPoint. She broke away from her corporate career in 2018 to work for herself, giving her the much-needed time, energy, and motivation to finish her M.B.A. while building the Grocery Shopii offering and business model.
After a year of developing the solution with the help of UNC-Charlotte’s Ventureprise customer discovery startup incubator, the Grocery Shopii platform was named the industry’s “Best Tech Application of 2019” by Progressive Grocer.
An RIS Top 10 Women in Grocery Tech, Katie holds an M.B.A. from William & Mary, and a B.S. in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an active member of the FMI Tech Council as well as the Western Michigan University Food Marketing Program board. Katie currently resides in Davidson, N.C., where Grocery Shopii keeps a corporate office, and is an active member of the city’s burgeoning tech community.
Omar G. Jorge Peña is the CEO of Compare Foods in Charlotte and Chairman of Aurora Grocery Group, which operates thirty-seven supermarkets under the Compare Foods, Gala Foods, and GalaFresh Supermarkets banners throughout the East Coast of the United States.
Founded in 1989 by the Peña family, Compare Foods is the largest ethnic supermarket chain on the East Coast, with stores from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Omar is a second-generation grocer, working in the family business beginning in his teenage years. In 2009, Omar relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina to manage the Compare Foods stores in the region. In 2012, together with his family, Omar led the creation and was named Chairman of a new entity, Aurora Grocery Group (AGG). Today, AGG manages 37 supermarkets under the Gala Foods, Compare Foods, and GalaFresh Supermarkets banners.
Omar also serves as the primary owner and CEO of the Compare Foods supermarkets in Charlotte. There are currently seven Compare Foods supermarkets in Charlotte, with the eighth supermarket scheduled to open in 2023. Compare Foods employs more than 550 Charlotte residents. The stores are located in some of Charlotte’s most economically disadvantaged communities and provide much needed fresh meats, produce, and healthy food options to city neighborhoods that would otherwise be food deserts.
Omar obtained his BA from St. John's University, majoring in Government & Politics. He also graduated with a Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University and is admitted to practice law in New York. He practiced as a transactional attorney in New York before moving to Charlotte.
Omar is actively involved in contributing to the community. He served two terms as the Chairman of the Latin American Coalition, the largest Latino advocacy and cultural organization in North Carolina. He also served on the Charlotte Immigration Integration Task Force. Omar currently serves on the following Boards of Directors: the Food Marketing Institute, the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, the Carolinas Food Industry Council (2020 President), the University of North Carolina Charlotte: Belk College of Business, and the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council.
Omar and his wife, Miriam, live in Charlotte and are the proud parents of twin boys.
Deepak Jose is a purpose-led executive leader in digital transformation, AI, Data, and analytics with a proven track record of driving profitable growth for global brands leading a diverse, global analytics solutions team. Deepak is an in-demand speaker, and analytics thought leader in the CPG and Retail Industry. He is a member of the Forbes Tech Council, AWS Retail & CPG Executive Advisory Forum, Industry standards associations, Editorial Board for CDO magazine, and Advisor for startups and AI/ Analytics service companies.
Deepak has revenue management, marketing, sales, and strategy experience across all major global markets in multiple categories such as confectionary, gum, food, beverage, and Health & Wellness. Before Mars, Deepak was part of global brands like Coca-Cola, ABB, Asurion, and Mu Sigma in strategic roles driving business growth. Deepak has an MBA from George Washington University and a Mechanical engineer from NIT Calicut, India. He completed an executive education program from Oxford University Said School of Business in Economics of Mutuality.
Deepak was awarded the Consumer Good Visionaries 2023 by CGT and RIS news, 2023 40 under 40 by CDO Magazine, Top 100 Innovators in Data & Analytics in 2022 &23 by Corinium Intelligence, AI 100 2023 - Top 100 Influencers in AI in the US by AIM Media House, 2023 Direct 60 Award for Brand Leaders at the Forefront of the Direct-to-Consumer by The Lead and Data IQ 100 2023 – the 100 most influential person in Data. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster, and he is from Kerala, India.
Galen Karlan-Mason is the CEO and Founder of GreenChoice, a Boston-based tech startup that uses AI to rapidly analyze food products' health and sustainability impacts. Frustrated by how difficult it was to grocery shop as someone with food allergies trying to make healthy and sustainable choices, Galen started GreenChoice with a team of data, nutrition, and environmental scientists to help people easily find the best products for their health and the planet.
Founded in 2019, GreenChoice has built the most comprehensive science-based nutritional and sustainability product attribution and ratings technology for food, with a database of 500,000+ products and award-winning shelf-edge and e-commerce plugins that enable food retailers to instantly provide enriched product content, personalized healthy shopping, and food as medicine for hundreds of thousands of consumers in-store and online. GreenChoice was named by Google one of the three “Best Apps for Good” in the U.S., featured by Forbes, FastCompany, CNN, Martha Stewart, and Boston Globe, and is backed by Katapult Ventures, BonBillo Ventures, the former-EVP of Stop & Shop, the founder of Custom Ink, the founder of Epidemico (acq. by Booz Allen Hamilton), and more.
Galen earned his MBA focusing in Sustainability from Brandeis International Business School and his dual-BA from Brandeis University where he was a two-sport athlete. Galen lives in San Diego and loves to travel, try new foods, and be outside with friends–surfing, sailing, snowboarding, and playing soccer.
Suzanne began her career at Accenture leading process improvement, change management, and IT integration projects for Fortune 100 companies. She joined Albertsons in 2001, where she developed and led the company’s Lean Six Sigma program – this first of its kind in the food and drug industry. She left Albertsons (then SuperValu) in 2008 to become the Retail Practice Leader for the consulting firm SSA & Company, directing engagements with clients such as Kroger, Harris Teeter, Staples and Office Depot.
Suzanne joined Albertsons Companies in 2012, and over the following 6 years led the integrations of SuperValu, Safeway, A&P, United and Haggen, including the conversion of all corporate functions, ~1000 stores, 12 distribution centers, and 13 division offices as Group Vice President of Business Improvement. In 2017 she was additionally given the assignment of delivering $500M in cost savings over a three-year timeframe. Suzanne became Group Vice President, Strategic Sourcing in 2020, where she was responsible for optimizing ~$13B in annual spend. That same year she was also asked to lead the development of the company’s ESG strategy and capabilities. She currently serves as the company’s first Chief Sustainability and Transformation Officer, responsible for driving both ESG and associate engagement strategies across the enterprise.Suzanne graduated with honors from Duke University with honors. She serves on the Retail Advisory Council for Apeel Technologies, the Advisory Board for the NEST Climate Campus, and the EDGE Advisory Council at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, as well as three non-profit boards.
Dr. Cory Lowe is a research scientist at the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC). He received his PhD in criminology from the University of Florida and began conducting loss prevention research at the LPRC in 2020. His background is in crime, delinquency, and substance use prevention, and has published research in peer-reviewed journals, edited volumes, and in the popular press. At the LPRC, Dr. Lowe conducts research on organized retail crime, product protection, and innovative approaches for securing vulnerable people and places.
Jose takes the helm of the Google Cloud business in the U.S., focused on the retail, consumer and travel industries. He brings a wealth of retail, brand and consultancy experience, and a fantastic understanding of the complex retail market.
A passionate leader that cares deeply about his team, colleagues and Customers alike. Seeking to empower and inspire them to reach further than they thought possible.
Jose spent 12 years at Dunnhumby, partnering with retailers and brands to leverage data and analytics to put their customers first. Most recently, he was President of North America, where he worked with the likes of Kroger, Macy’s, Hilton, McDonald’s, Meijer, P&G, and Kraft, centering the customer across strategy, loyalty, personalization, merchandising and supply chain decisions. With a strong emphasis in fostering collaboration between retailers and brands, his work also focused on the monetization of retailers’ data assets via shopper insights, media targeting and closed loop measurement.
Prior to this, he was Managing Director of Dunnhumby’s Latin America and Africa region, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Under his leadership, the region became the fastest-growing market globally. During his tenure, Jose was responsible for personalizing the customer experience for millions of shoppers of major retailers and FMCGs, such as Raia Drogasil, Grupo Exito, Grupo Pão de Açucar, Shoprite, and AB Inbev. Before that, Jose led the creation of Digital Media Services in Latin America for Dunnhumby. Earlier in his career, Jose worked in investment banking with BPI.
Jose is currently based in Chicago with his wife and young daughter. Originally from Portugal, they are a family of explorers like their ancestors before them, and between them have been brought up, studied and worked in 12 countries, transforming their passion for travel and food into a way of life.
Sally Lyons Wyatt is a recognized thought leader in CPG and Retail, a frequent keynote speaker and an authority on consumer eating and shopping trends. She is published often in periodicals spanning trade and national business media. She brings more than 25 years of industry experience to provide innovative and results-driven insights combined with proven leadership success.
As an executive and practice leader for IRI’s Client Insights division, Lyons Wyatt is responsible for driving integrated initiatives as well as measuring their success within the practice areas of consumer strategy, consumer/customer insights, and personalization. Sally’s experience includes the management and development of global account teams that provide service to top CPG companies around the world.
In his role at FMI, Markenson oversees the research & insights practice. He leads the discovery process on the latest industry trends and operational insights that champion FMI as a credible voice of the food retail industry. Markenson is a market research executive with 30 years of progressive experience in his field. His diverse experience includes research design, information/data collection and analysis and strategic planning.
Markenson was formerly the president of WBA Research, a national market research firm founded in 1987, where he oversaw more than 30 full-time professionals, along with a part-time staff of more than 100 telephone interviewers, field interviewers and support staff. Earlier in his career, Markenson worked at Snyder Communications, where he directed all aspects of more than 90 annual market research studies and presented results to brand management, market research departments, advertising and promotion agencies.
As Senior Vice President of Community Engagement, Melanie Nuce-Hilton leads the strategy to drive broader adoption and use of GS1 Standards and solutions across 25 industries through meaningful collaboration. Ms. Nuce-Hilton serves as lead ambassador to the apparel, general merchandise, foodservice, retail grocery, and healthcare sectors to drive improved supply chain visibility. Overseeing education and training, product management and customer support, she links community with internal capabilities to foster growth and improve business processes.
Ms. Nuce-Hilton also leads the GS1 US Innovation function in investigating new technologies to increase the relevance and reach of GS1 Standards. Drawing on her extensive background in retail technology, she oversees the exploration of collaboration opportunities to help businesses leverage emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, computer vision, machine learning, the metaverse and more to address multiple areas such as autonomous retail and circular economy/sustainability.
Previously, Ms. Nuce-Hilton led Corporate Development at GS1 US, managing a pipeline of opportunities where GS1 Standards help drive business process efficiencies and innovation. Prior to that, she was Vice President, Apparel and General Merchandise at GS1 US, leading a retail industry initiative group focused on improving inventory accuracy, exchanging standardized product data and achieving source to store visibility.
Before joining GS1 US, Ms. Nuce-Hilton was the director of retail industry marketing at GXS (now OpenText) and also served as a global product manager for both supply chain visibility and data synchronization applications at GXS. Ms. Nuce-Hilton also spent several years in various supply chain and consulting roles, with an emphasis on business-to-business relationships, electronic data interchange implementation and warehouse automation projects.
Ms. Nuce-Hilton is active in the ongoing development of global standards and is a frequent speaker at educational seminars and industry tradeshows. She has presented at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show, Council for Supply Chain Management Professionals Edge and World Business Forum. She is a frequent resource on retail and supply chain technology topics for media outlets such as Fast Company, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and more.
Ms. Nuce-Hilton earned her bachelor’s degree in professional studies from Bethany University.
Siobhan O’Bara, Senior Vice President at GS1 US, is an accomplished leader with more than 25 years of experience in supply chain, logistics, and operations management. She is responsible for developing a single vision and leading a team that supports all GS1 US member needs and programs. This includes guiding the community engagement strategy to drive broader adoption and use of GS1 Standards and solutions across 25 industries and for building long-term industry relationships through meaningful collaboration. Ms. O’Bara serves as lead ambassador to the consumer packaged goods/grocery, healthcare, foodservice, fresh foods, apparel, and general merchandise industry sectors. In addition to her industry role, she has responsibility for the GS1 US external services offering, which includes GS1 US member support, the solution partner program and the advisory services program.
Prior to joining GS1 US, Ms. O’Bara held several executive leadership positions at Covidien (Medtronic), a leading global provider of healthcare products. A seasoned customer service and customer operations expert, during her tenure at Covidien, Ms. O’Bara led multiple customer initiatives. As Vice President of Customer Operations, she created a Global Shared Services customer operations team that supported more than 200,000 customers in three sectors and six global business units. She was also Vice President of Supply Chain Systems & Solutions, responsible for systems conversions and merger/acquisition integrations. She led the supply chain functions at multiple Covidien divisions, including medical supplies, retail, imaging, pharmaceutical, and respiratory technologies.
An accomplished author and public speaker, Ms. O’Bara is often invited to speak at industry events and university supply chain management programs, including Penn State. She is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, the University of Connecticut, and Babson College.
Chad is currently the Sr. Vice President of eCommerce at Lowes Foods and Alex Lee Retail. Lowes Foods is a disruptive and community-focused retailer that operates over 80 locations across the Carolinas. Chad’s organization is responsible for setting and delivering the omnichannel strategy including digital properties, eCommerce fulfillment/logistics, marketplaces, engineering/logistics, BOPIS, Personal Shopper programs, and all aspects of the guest experience for Lowes Foods To Go and Lowes Foods’ eCommerce marketplaces. Chad’s org leaned heavily into the company’s 25-year eCommerce legacy to place eCommerce front-and-center in support of their local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Chief Customer Officer for U.S. Retail, Sri Rajagopalan oversees all customer activities for General Mills in the U.S. He leads the nearly 1,000 sales professionals charged with growing the $10B U.S. Retail business. Sri was promoted to this position in July 2021.
Sri joined General Mills in March 2021 as a CPG industry veteran in leading omnichannel transformation after leadership positions in customer management at Frito-Lay North America , PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson consumer Inc., and at Revlon.
After graduating from Virginia Tech with an MBA in Marketing, Sri joined IRI, a leading market research firm leading consumer insights with several brands across several categories. After several leadership roles of increasing responsibilities, he joined PepsiCo, where he led retail insights, business intelligence, customer management, digital retail led ecommerce and media management across both beverages and snacks. This journey grew to leadership across a diversity of categories at Johnson & Johnson and Revlon. He has also been a key diversity and inclusion leader in the industry being awarded twice by the California legislative assembly.
Sri’s experience is truly omnichannel and spans across field sales, trade marketing, category management, digital led demand and consumption, ecommerce and sales capabilities anchored on the transformational nature of today’s consumer behavior. His teams have consistently partnered with key retailers to lead profitable growth for them.
An avid New York Yankees and New York Giants fan, Sri enjoys spending time with his wife Kavita and their two children Rhea (a singer songwriter) & Lara (actress) and runs a podcast ‘CPGGUYS’ focused on consumer led industry transformation. They have enjoyed living in various parts of the country including Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Chicago, California & New York City.
John Ruane is president of The GIANT Company, an omnichannel grocer known to customers as GIANT, MARTIN’S, GIANT Heirloom Market, GIANT Direct and MARTIN’S Direct that has been proudly serving families across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and New Jersey since 1923.
At The GIANT Company, Ruane leads a best-in-class team that is focused on developing and implementing customer-centric strategies to ensure continued growth of the brand, while continuously improving both the customers’ experience and value propositions.
He began his grocery career at Foodtown in New Jersey at age 14 and continued working there through college. In 1980 he joined Pathmark, working his way through roles of increasing responsibility from part-time clerk to senior vice president of merchandising. Ruane joined the Ahold Delhaize family of brands in 2011 as sales vice president of Stop & Shop – New York Division and then as senior vice president of fresh for Ahold USA where he oversaw all fresh merchandising and supply chain operations for more than 800 stores. He joined The GIANT Company in 2018 as senior vice president of merchandising and named senior vice president of commercial in July 2022. Ruane was named interim president in August 2022 and became president in July 2023.
Ruane currently serves as chairman of FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Fresh Food Leadership Committee and on the board of directors for Philabundance.
He attended Rutgers College and has completed post-graduate programs at Cornell University and Harvard Business School.
Leslie G. Sarasin is the president and chief executive officer of FMI, the food industry association, which represents more than 1,500 member companies in the United States and around the world. Under Sarasin's leadership, FMI has become a forward focused and member centered organization committed to help supermarkets excel in their role of feeding families and enriching lives. Her synergistic style and determined spirit of collaboration has infused FMI with a renewed commitment to help its members address the critical industry issues of the day - food safety and the emerging importance of health and wellness. Prior to coming to FMI, Sarasin was president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute.
Randall Sargent is a Partner in the Retail & Consumer Goods and Digital practices at Oliver Wyman. She has deep expertise in retail merchandising, including cutting-edge personalization capabilities, promotions optimization, pricing and value strategy, and assortment optimization. She focuses on helping retail clients build sustainable capabilities, often involving fit-for-purpose retail software that her teams deploy and customize to deliver significant, sustained impact.
Randall was an early pioneer of experimenting with Generative AI technology, leveraging large language models to solve unique retail and consumer goods challenges. Together with the team at OW, Randall has developed and deployed many practical solutions leveraging GenAI. Over the past year, she has advised and educated retailers and interest groups (e.g., FMI, NRF) on the opportunities and implications of GenAI on the industry.
Randall holds a B.A. in mathematics and international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Lori Schafer is a senior software executive and entrepreneur with 30+ years in technology, analytics (Predictive, AI, Generative AI), Ecommerce, consumer products branding, and retail merchandising and marketing.
She is CEO, Digital Wave Technology, a software solutions company that transforms retail & CPG business processes through AI, including generative AI, workflow and automation. She frequently consults with brands and retailers on their digital transformation strategies in today’s world of omnichannel customer engagement. Ms. Schafer has experience building and managing both startup ($0-$100M) and large enterprise technology businesses around the globe.
Ms. Schafer has served on the board of directors of various public and private retailers, consumer goods, technology companies, and trade associations including the National Retail Federation. In 2010, she co-authored a business book bestseller Branded! The book accurately predicted how mobile, analytics and social media would change the face of retail in just a few short years.
Prior to Digital Wave, she spent 17 years serving as SVP, SAS Institute, leading the Global Retail/Consumer Brands Business Division. Earlier in her career, Ms. Schafer served as Chairman/CEO of Marketmax, Inc., a merchandise / supply chain analytics software company. Ms. Schafer spent the early part of her career at Procter & Gamble in both IT and brand management.
Wanda brings over 30 years of diverse experience in industry, analytics, consulting, and product management. She is a versatile results-oriented leader who leverages a unique blend of extensive practical business experience and analytical skills to creatively solve business problems. Her first-hand experience in leading teams across finance, merchandising, supply chain, marketing, and technology at grocery, hardline, and apparel retailers makes her proficient at generating financial value for Accenture clients. She has orchestrated analytical solution implementations for assortment optimization, customer analytics, digital transformation, forecasting, price optimization and supply chain efficiency at retailers across North American and Europe.
She started her career at Food Lion in Finance and later spent 14 years working alongside Brian Woolf in customer analytics with grocers across the globe. She contributed to Brian’s publications including the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council study “Measured Marketing” and his book “Loyalty Marketing – The Second Act”.
She holds a Master of Science in Analytics from the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State University and a BS in Accounting from Pfeiffer University. She is a North Carolina Certified Public Accountant.
Raised in Grundy, VA, Smith earned a bachelor’s in business administration from James Madison University. Throughout his 44 years of employment with Food City, he has served in numerous key positions, before assuming his current position of president and chief executive officer.
Headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. operates 152 retail locations, trading under the Food City, Fresh n’ Low, and Super Dollar banners, including 118 pharmacies, 116 fuel/convenience stores, 4 wine & spirits stores, and 9 Curt’s Ace Hardware stores throughout Southwest Virginia, Southeast Kentucky, East Tennessee, North Georgia, and Alabama.
Smith has served on the boards of Wellmont Health Care Systems, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Weis Supermarkets, and GO Virginia. He served as campaign chair for United Way of Southwest Virginia from 2000-2002 and 2006-2007, as well as board chair for Topco Associates, LLC, and FMI – The Food Industry Association. He is a member of National Grocers Association and currently serves as a Special Advisor to Governor Youngkin’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates, is a member of the James Madison University Board of Visitors, Mountain Mission School Board of Directors, Vice Chairman of Topco Associates, LLC Board of Directors, and serves on several committees for FMI – The Food Industry Association.
Joe Toscano joined Purina in 2002 as an Account Manager and. began his current role as Vice President of Trade and Industry Development in 2016.
Immediately upon graduating from Cornell University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management & Marketing Joe joined Nestlé. For 30+ years he has worked with the Nestlé companies and brands, always keeping an acute focus on the pet category. Joe has developed a strong understanding of the pet category and consumer and has worked across all classes of trade focused on maximizing profitable sales for many different Nestlé and Purina customers.
Joe is the NPPC Customer Excellence Award Winner in multiple years and has supported all channels from his sales and category role including Grocery, Mass, Drug, Convenience, Dollar, and Club.
Joe currently resides in St. Louis with his family, including wife Michelle, daughters, Dominique and Joeli, son, Joseph, and his grandson, Ethan.
Eric Weiss is a Managing Director in the in Mergers and Acquisitions Practice, based in New York. At Accenture, Eric has focused on Target Screening, Due Diligence, Pre-Merger Strategy, and Divestiture Planning work across multiple industries including Consumer Goods & Services, Transportation, Utilities and Telecom Services.
Prior to joining Accenture, Eric worked at Nomura, in London and NYC, in the Investment Banking Division, raising over $20bn in capital for numerous companies. During his time at Nomura, he gained experience in Valuation Analysis and Mergers / Acquisitions. He also worked on the Securitized Products Trading Desk, where he analyzed and traded Agency Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, Non-Agency Residential Mortgage Securities and Commercial Mortgage Securities.
Eric graduated with honors as a double major from Bucknell University with a BA in Economics and Philosophy. In his free time, Eric enjoys running, working out, cooking, and traveling.
Dave Wendland is a 30-year veteran of the consumer-packaged goods industry and is passionate about optimizing results across the retail supply chain. A sought-after speaker for industry conferences and frequent editorial contributor, Dave always provides dynamic and thought-provoking presentations and idea-generating articles.
As vice president strategic relations and one of the co-owners of Hamacher Resource Group, Dave has connected, counseled, and offered business-improvement solutions to a variety of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and technology providers. With his bird’s-eye view of retail, he is able to assess and offer creative ideas to help companies of all sizes whether they are market leaders or new to the industry.
Bill is Haleon’s Vice President of the Grocery and Alternate channels. In this role, he is responsible for leading the Grocery, Wholesale, Regional Drug, Military, Convenience, and Emerging channels businesses. This includes both the direct commercial teams and sales agency partners.
Bill joined the Haleon legacy of companies in 2005 through Novartis and over time has held roles of increasing responsibility and leadership in Sales, Insights and Shopper Marketing. He is focused upon building high performing teams with a passion to create commercial value with our customers by truly understanding the needs of the shopper and how we can uniquely solve them together. Prior to his current role, Bill was responsible for leading the CVS Health business for Haleon.
Bill holds a BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and lives in Massachusetts with his Wife Toni and three children.