Keynote Speakers

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.

Brian Riggs 

 CATAPULT CEO:  SRA Professional Development

(Participation limited to CSRA SRA members/staff)

 Looking Back…. Looking Ahead 

It’s been a year like no other and nobody knows this better than us. We adjusted, we worked, we pivoted, we invented and we’re all exhausted. However, now it’s time to breathe, decompress, recharge, and get motivated.

During this time together we will hear from a decorated Naval officer and learn firsthand how to find that next layer of energy when you think there’s nothing left in the tank.

Sharing Victories

Following our opening address, our colleagues will have the opportunity to share one or more of their accomplishments during COVID. 

We want to hear what you did to move your organization, staff, or the industry forward. This is a time to pat yourself on the back and inspire your peers. 

New Vision for 2022

We’ve learned how to keep it going and we’ve got some great ideas from our colleagues – now we need to operationalize it.During this session we’ll learn what is possible and how to develop a quick and accessible 12-month flash plan.

Brian Riggs is a native of New Jersey where he currently resides with his wife and two daughters. He first joined the public sector in 1997, when he served as the research historian for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. In 2007 he was hired by Association Headquarters, Inc., an association management company, where he began designing and executing leadership workshops, organizational engagement and strategic planning for the public and private sectors.

Today Brian is the CEO of Riggs Enterprise, a company that specializes in organizational development with a strong focus on helping leaders think differently, strategic planning and internal and external communications. More specifically, he and his team work closely with leadership teams and organizations on organizational effectiveness, change management and developing a culture of innovation.

Riggs holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, a master’s degree from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of Cornell University’s change leadership program.