Keynote Speakers

Steve Sadove

“A Year of Rapid Transformation and Innovation – An Executive Perspective on Retail’s Future” Stephen I. Sadove, Retired Chairman and CEO, Saks Incorporated; Former Chairman, NRF

Mr. Sadove will be joined on stage with Matthew Shay, President & CEO, National Retail Federation, for a conversation and questions. Gordon Gough, Ohio Retail Merchant Association, Moderator


Between January 2002 and November 2013, Stephen I. Sadove held positions of increasing responsibility with Saks Incorporated.  In January 2002, Sadove joined the management team of Saks as Vice Chairman. In March 2004, he assumed the additional post of Chief Operating Officer of the Company and in January 2006 he assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer. He held the post of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saks between May 2007 and November 2013. In November 2013, Saks Incorporated was sold to Hudson’s Bay.

Prior to joining Saks, Sadove built a distinguished marketing and consumer products career spanning over 25 years.  Between 1975 and 1991, Sadove held various positions of increasing responsibility with General Foods (now Kraft Heinz), including Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Desserts, as well as Meals Divisions. 

Sadove joined Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in 1991 as President of Clairol.  In 1994, he was appointed President, Worldwide Clairol, having direct responsibility for the Clairol business in the United States as well as all of the consumer businesses in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. In 1996, he was appointed to the post of President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Worldwide Beauty Care, with responsibility for Clairol Worldwide and Matrix Essentials.  In 1997, he was appointed President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Worldwide Beauty Care and Nutritionals, adding Mead Johnson Nutritionals to his duties.

During his tenure at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sadove led Clairol to become the number one hair care business in the United States, relaunched the Herbal Essences brand into a $700 million business, and completed the sale of the beauty care business to Procter & Gamble. During this period he also served as Chairman of what is now the Personal Care Products Council.

Sadove is a graduate of Hamilton College and holds an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.  He is also a recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree from LIM College.  He currently serves on the public company boards of Aramark (Chairman), Colgate-Palmolive (lead director), Park Hotels and Resorts and Movado.  He is a former Chair of the National Retail Federation and serves as an advisor to Mastercard as well as serving on numerous community and civic boards including Hamilton College and AmeriCares. He is also a founding partner of JW Levin Management Partners, a Private Equity firm.

Jim Ellis

"Politics Today and Tomorrow"

How are population shifts and redistricting going to affect the congressional and state legislative picture around the country? What are the end of congressional session problem points for retail business? Can we expect a flip of the House and Senate and if so, how does that impact our issues? All of this will be discussed as well as the 2024 election activity. 


JIM ELLIS is the creator of the Ellis Insight publication and Senior Political Analyst for the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, the first such business organization that was founded in 1963. 

Analytical Accuracy. Jim’s positions as executive director for two national political action committees built well-recognized skills in advising, strategizing for, and evaluating campaigns. His close-up role as a leading political consultant to the Republican majority leadership of the House of Representatives resulted in a strong reputation for calling races correctly.  Jim’s loyal following included political action committee directors, who today are clients gleaning key information and keen insight from his daily columns and other special request reports.  Among other projects, he researches and writes on elections, candidates, and races for additional clients that include corporations and trade associations such as NACS, Exelon, and UPS. 

Grass Roots Grounding. A thirty-plus year veteran of politics at the state and national levels, Jim began his career with the San Diego County Republican Party, and then served as an original staff member for then-Congressman Bill Lowery (R-CA). He specialized in corporate grass roots lobbying, campaign management and coalition building as President of the Ramhurst Corporation of North Carolina and as a manager of the Public Issues Department of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, NC. 

Keynote Speaker Savvy. Over the years, Ellis has been a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups. A natural and articulate speaker, he is sought after across the country for keynote speeches to national association meetings, university audiences, PAC member gatherings, and corporate client seminars. 

During his career, he has addressed numerous campaign schools, congressional orientation sessions, and media training seminars throughout the US, in addition to an international trade conference in Mexico City.  Jim has appeared as a political debate participant for WUSA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, is a regular on the Sunday Morning Newsmakers KRLA-radio program in Los Angeles, a guest columnist for the Washington Times newspaper, and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze news site.  He has appeared on the new CCTV network, which broadcasts worldwide, CNN International, Rai Italia, the Italian international network, and the Jim Bohannon national radio show, as well as many local programs around the country.

Background. Jim Ellis was born and raised in Sacramento, California.  He earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979.  Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident.  He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH.  He is a retired member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which calls high school games throughout the local region. 

Gautham Vadakkepatt

“The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Stores”

Gautham G. Vadakkepatt, Founding Director, George Mason University Center on Retail Transformation Brian Dodge, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Welcome Cailey Locklair, Maryland Retailers Association, Moderator



Gautham Vadakkepatt is an award-winning researcher, educator, and founding director of George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, a center focused on supporting SMB retail. His research focuses on managerially and societally relevant issues in the domains of social media, technology, innovation and non-product market strategies (e.g., sustainability, government-business relationships, corporate activism), with a specific interest in the retail sector. His research has been published in leading marketing journals. His research is recipient of the 2015 MSI/H. Paul Root Award and was a finalist for the 2020 Sheth Foundation/Journal of Marketing Award for long-term contributions to the field of marketing. He was recently identified as a Top 100 retail influencer by Rethink Retail. Prior to starting his academic career, Gautham worked for General Electric and a quality engineer and an e-business analyst. Since then he has also consulted with several companies on their go-to-market, marketing, digital and/or data strategies.