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SPEAKERS

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Cassandra Walker Pye

Cassandra Walker Pye is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Lucas Public Affairs (LPA), a public affairs consultancy based in Sacramento. For more than 35 years, she has enjoyed a successful career in communications, government, politics and advocacy for corporate interests in global, national, state and local arenas. She joined LPA in November 2019.

Cassandra has served in leadership roles in the public and private sectors in Sacramento and in Washington, DC. From 2014 through 2019, she led 3.14 Communications, LLC, a full-service communication consultancy with clients in a range of sectors. She began her career at the Food Marketing Institute and directed government relations operations for the California Grocers Association and the California Retailers Association. As senior vice president for APCO Worldwide, Cassandra co-led the agency’s global food and consumer products practice group. In 2003, Cassandra was appointed deputy chief of staff to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and served as a member of his post-election transition team. She is former political director and corporate affairs vice president for the California Chamber of Commerce, where she launched the JobsPAC, ChamberPAC and the Coalition for California Jobs. 

Since 2016, she’s been a lead facilitator for the American Leadership Forum’s (ALF) Leading Consciously trainings, providing insights into unconscious (implicit) bias and its impact on societal structures and institutions.

Cassandra sits on the Board of Directors for the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and serves on the boards of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation and Street Soccer USA. She is former State Board President and now a member of the Advisory Board for California Women Lead. She is a passionate professional soccer fan and was among the original group of supporters for Sacramento Republic Football Club. Cassandra and husband Kelvin have four adult sons. They reside in Sacramento.

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 David Thompson, CFI

David Thompson, CFI, is a Partner and President of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (WZ) as well as an active instructor for the organization. He is responsible for the company's strategic vision and oversees the business's day-to-day operations.

Thompson also leads the evolution of interview and interrogation curriculum development to provide research-based investigative tools to practitioners while driving change in the industry.

In his experience as a practitioner, David has had the opportunity to manage a variety of cases while conducting interviews and consulting on investigations ranging from theft and fraud to sexual harassment and homicide. David has created and delivered customized training programs internationally, conducted live broadcasts of training and presented keynote presentations at numerous events.

With a dedication to leading change, David has collaborated with members of the academic community, advocacy groups, and other relevant partners to further the enhancement of interview and interrogation protocols throughout the US. He has contributed expert opinions for a variety of cases and was cited by the Federal Court of Appeals for his involvement on the topic of interview and interrogation. He has also provided consults on legislative propositions and served as a subject matter expert for reform efforts and case evaluations.

David attended Canisius College, in Buffalo, New York, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and continued his education at Arizona State University, earning a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology.

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Brian Riggs

Brian Riggs is a native of New Jersey where he currently resides with his wife and two daughters. He began his organizational development work in 2007 when he was hired by Association Headquarters, Inc., to design and execute 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 strategy, culture, and internal and external communications. More specifically, he and his team work closely with leadership teams on organizational effectiveness, change management and growth.

In his role, Brian develops and supports key initiatives designed to inspire and elevate members, leaders within and throughout for profit and non-profit organizations. His firm connects vision and strategy to stakeholders through internal and external brand development. 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.

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Todd Hartman

Todd Hartman is general counsel and chief risk officer for Best Buy Co. Inc. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s legal activities and its global risk and compliance program. He also serves as corporate secretary.

Todd joined Best Buy in 2006. He most recently served as chief risk and compliance officer, overseeing enterprise data security, customer data privacy, enterprise risk management, global security, business continuity/disaster recovery, internal investigations, crisis response management and compliance and ethics. He continues to lead those functions in his current role.

Todd previously was Best Buy’s deputy general counsel from 2011 to 2017. Before that, he served as the company’s chief compliance officer and vice president of strategic alliances.

Prior to joining Best Buy, Todd was a partner at Minneapolis law firm Robins Kaplan. A Minnesota native, he worked for several years as a telecommunications and technology attorney in Washington, D.C., before returning to Minneapolis.

Todd received his law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northwestern University. He serves as chair of the Best Buy Foundation and is on the board of the Guthrie Theater.

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David Best

David joined General Mills in December of 2019 and currently leads our Omnichannel Center of Excellence within NAR, which is focused on building world-class capabilities that allow GMI to win at retail.   His team includes Category Management, Trade Planning, E-Commerce Capabilities, Customer Insights, Customer Marketing, Reporting & Analytics, and our National Retail Organization.  David is passionate about building diverse and engaged teams and believes we have tremendous opportunity to integrate leveraging insights, data and analytics into how we work.

Prior to GMI, David spent 19 years at Target in a variety of roles, including SVP-Omnichannel Merchandise Planning, VP-Small Formats & New Business Development, Sr. Director-Dry Grocery/Dairy/Frozen Foods, Director-Pet Care and multiple other positions in Buying/Merchandising.

With a BA in Economics from Carleton College and an MBA from Duke University, David serves on the boards of Project Success, an education-based non-profit, and Global Minnesota, a world affairs organization.  He is married with two boys, ages 10 and 8.

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Lawrence R. Jacobs

Lawrence R. Jacobs, Mondale Chair and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Hubert Humphrey School and Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota.  Dr. Jacobs has authored or edited 17 books and over 100 articles and briefs on elections, public opinion, legislative and presidential politics. His most recent book, Democracy Under Fire: Donald Trump and the Breaking of American History was published in 2022 by Oxford University Press.  His a frequent media commentator and convenor of public events.

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Bruce Nustad

Bruce joined the Minnesota Retailers Association as its staff president in September 2012, bringing with him a strong background of working with the business community. Prior to joining the retailers association, he served as TwinWest Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. Nustad’s experience also includes leadership positions with the Minnesota High Tech Association, American Collectors Association, Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce, and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Nustad holds a master of arts degree in public administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a bachelor of arts degree in public policy from Concordia University, Saint Paul.

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Kara R. Gainer

Kara Gainer, JD, serves as Director, Global Public Policy, at Walmart. In this role, Kara is responsible for developing and implementing policy initiatives to advance Walmart’s health and wellness strategic priorities. She also advises senior leadership on the business impact of health policy and payment proposals and changes in laws and regulations. Previously, Kara served as Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the American Physical Therapy Association where she directed and managed the association’s public policy initiatives. Prior to joining APTA, Kara was a Senior Research and Policy Analyst with Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. She also served as an Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals and clerked with the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms. Kara holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Montana School of Law and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Montana. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

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Jill McCormack

Jill McCormack is the director of state government affairs at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores with current responsibilities in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and DC.

Jill previously worked as a government affairs associate for Malady & Wooten, LLP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she represented the Pennsylvania Association of Chain Drug Stores and several other health care-related entities.  Prior to that, she served for 13 years as Legislative Director for the former Leader of the Pennsylvania Senate.

Jill received her bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University and M.A. in American Studies from Pennsylvania State University.  She currently resides in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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Justin Heiser

Justin Heiser is the Chief Operating Officer at Thrifty White Pharmacy.  Since joining the 100-store employee owned pharmacy chain in 2007, he has held several roles with the company, focusing on strategy, technology, business development and strategic partnerships that have allowed the company to deliver value to payor and pharma partners, as well as the patients whom Thrifty White serves.  These efforts over the years lead to the development of a proprietary technology that enables data-driven, value-based care programs to be integrated into pharmacy workflow, thereby enabling pharmacists to close gaps in care, optimize quality and cost of care through partnerships with numerous payor and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Justin earned his Doctor of Pharmacy and Bachelors of Pharmaceutical Science degrees at North Dakota State University. He is a member of the ND Pharmacists Association, MN Pharmacists Association, National Community Pharmacists Association, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS).  He serves on the North Dakota State University Pharmacy National Advisory Board and on the Thrifty White Pharmacy Board of Directors.

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Casey R. Cesnovar 

In 2007, Mr. Cesnovar joined Walgreens as a Manager of State Government Relations responsible for eight southern states as well as Puerto Rico.  In August of 2010, he was promoted to Sr. Manager of State Government Relations responsible for all State Government Affairs activity on the east coast.  In 2012, Mr. Cesnovar was promoted to Director of State Government Relations where he oversaw all state activity across the country.  Currently Mr. Cesnovar holds the position of Divisional Vice President, State & Local Government Relations responsible for all legislative and regulatory issues affecting Walgreens enterprise-wide business operations.

Prior to joining Walgreens, Mr. Cesnovar spent nearly five years as a Professional Sales Representative for TAP Pharmaceuticals.  Before that, he worked for the Lt. Governor of the State of Illinois, where he served as the Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff and was eventually promoted to Director of Advance.  Additionally, Mr. Cesnovar played an integral role on the Wood for Governor Statewide campaign, all the while working for and volunteering on various campaigns for the Illinois House and Senate.  Mr. Cesnovar received a BA in Political Science from DePaul University, Chicago.  Mr. Cesnovar lives in Libertyville, IL with his wife Karin and daughters Sophia (15) and Caroline (11). 

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Deborah White

Deborah currently serves as Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). RILA is the trade association that represents only the major retailers in each vertical. In her current capacity, Deborah oversees the legal function of the association, the development of RILA’s Center for Retail Compliance, and programming for the corporate legal community of her members, including their general counsel.  Programming developed during Deborah’s tenure has significantly increased member company legal community involvement in RILA.

Simultaneously, Deborah serves as President of the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), an independent 501(c)(6) association with its own membership and governance functions. The Retail Litigation Center reflects the voice of the retail industry in the judicial branch and develops litigation strategies to influence the arc of the law as it relates to issues of greatest importance to the retail community. The RLC participates amicus curiae in fifteen to twenty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other significant appellate courts each year.

Prior to joining RILA and the RLC, Deborah was Principal of Regulatory Solutions, LLC, through which she provided regulatory advice and counsel to two of the most successful grocery chains in the country. She also served as Executive Director of the Recycled Paperboard Technical Association.

Deborah’s association experience began at the Food Marketing Institute, the major trade association for grocery retailing. She started as the association’s Regulatory Counsel and left ten years later as its Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.  Over the course of her tenure, Deborah successfully represented the food retail industry before the key federal agencies responsible for the industry’s oversight and testified on behalf of the industry before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Deborah began her legal career as an associate attorney specializing in the law related to food and food packaging at the firm of Keller and Heckman. 

Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctorate from the Washington College of Law at American University. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and she is admitted to the bar associations of the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland. Deborah currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Georgetown University Corporate Counsel Institute.

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Adam Lukoskie

Adam Lukoskie is vice president of the NRF Foundation. In this role, he oversees management of all major programs, ensures that efforts between the Foundation and the National Retail Federation on advocacy, workforce issues and research are aligned, and develops strategies, programs and activities to maintain the Foundation’s position as the leading philanthropic organization for the retail industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, leadership and management from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.) and a master’s degree in business administration from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.

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Dan Felton

A well-known leader in the government affairs arena for more than 20 years, Dan has worked within the bottled water, credit card, healthcare and information management industries. He is particularly passionate about environmental, sustainability and packaging issues and has lobbied extensively in those areas at the state and federal levels. He leads the efforts of AMERIPEN – the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment – to develop and advocate positions for the U.S. packaging industry on issues related to packaging and the environment, using sound science and a philosophy of material neutrality.

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Cailey Locklair

Cailey Locklair is the President of the Maryland Retailers Association, Maryland Chain Drug Store Association, Maryland Food Industry Council, and Tri State Jewelers Association and has worked and advocated in Maryland State and local politics for the past sixteen years.

 

She attended the University of Delaware where she received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and Towson University where she received her Master of Science degree in integrated homeland security management with a focus on security policy. She also holds a Certificate of Security Assessment and Management from Towson University.

 

Previously, she worked at the Baltimore Jewish Council as their Deputy Executive Director and was the Assistant House Administrator for the Maryland House of Delegates. In 2014, she was chosen by The Seventh State as an "Annapolis Top Five Young Gun" and in 2019 by the Daily Record as a "Successful by 40 VIP." Cailey is a member of the State’s Unemployment Insurance Legislative Oversight Committee, is immediate past Chair of the national Council of State Retailer Associations, sits on the board of Goodwill of the Chesapeake and sits on the Executive Directors Council to the Maryland Tourism Development Board.

 

In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with animal organizations, boating, playing softball for the Department of Legislative Services and is a proud "sponsor" of Naval Academy midshipman. She resides in Edgewater, MD.

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Matt Seaholm

Matt Seaholm is the President and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS).

 

Prior to becoming President & CEO, Matt was the Vice President of Government Affairs where he oversaw the association’s legislative and regulatory activities. Matt joined PLASTICS in December of 2016 as Executive Director for the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, where he focused on communications, sustainability, and advocacy efforts dedicated to the plastic retail bag segment of the industry.

 

Before arriving at PLASTICS, Matt was Vice President of Public Affairs at communications and marketing firm Edelman, having helped clients navigate federal, state and local policy fights. He has an extensive background in issue advocacy, government affairs, and grassroots organization. He is also a veteran campaign manager with experience running campaigns on the legislative, congressional, statewide, and national levels. Matt is a native of Wisconsin and proud alum of the University of Wisconsin.

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Matthew Albence

Principal, GrindStone Strategic

Mr. Albence is an accomplished senior executive with over two decades of experience and success in leading the United States’ second largest federal law enforcement agency, and the principal investigative agency of the Department of Homeland Security. In 2019, Mr. Albence served as the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Prior to this, Mr. Albence served as the agency’s Deputy Director, selected for this position in August 2018. Mr. Albence has 25 years of federal law enforcement experience, beginning his career in San Antonio as a Special Agent with the former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) in 1994.

Throughout his career, Matt received numerous awards and accolades, earned for his efforts on the street working cases, to those stemming from his steadfast leadership and commitment to his people and his mission. He is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the country’s highest civil service recognition, and the DHS Distinguished Service Medal, the highest service award granted by the Secretary, in recognition for exceptionally distinguished and transformational service to strengthen homeland security.

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Angie Rieger

Angie Rieger is currently Senior Vice President of International/Wholesale at Lands’ End.  She is a seasoned executive with deep experience in building and growing multi-channel direct to consumer businesses both in the US and Internationally.

Angie is an innovative and global leader with over 30 years of experience helping to increase value and build successful businesses within the enterprise.  Under her leadership, the international business tripled operating income through a combination of operational and structural initiatives.  She introduced digital marketing strategies that delivered new customer acquisition of +136% and a total customer file growth of +30%.

Her leadership style stresses the value of cross functional data driven decision making, placing the importance on both improving data governance and utilizing data analytics across the enterprise, at a customer level, informing optimal assortment sizes and across the lifecycle of the product. 

In early 2019, Angie began the process of launching a marketplace both in the US and in Europe. Within three years, Lands’ End was trading on the four largest US Platforms and five across Europe and was engaged in wholesale partnerships with two leading retailers in the US, significantly contributing profitable revenue growth to Lands’ End within year one.

Having led Global Planning and Inventory prior to her current role gave Angie a deep understanding of supply chain logistics, product development, operations and the levers available to impact profitability and cash flow.  During her tenure, Angie was able to reduce Global Inventory by 5% and US inventory by 17% while maintaining customer service rates.  She did this through the introduction of an inventory stratification initiative paired with assortment optimization efforts.

Angie’s experience extends to both corporate and not-for-profit sectors; currently serving on boards of Thrivent Financial (Fortune 500), American Family Children’s Hospital, Clean Lakes Alliance, and Women in Retail Leadership.  She is a member of both Women Corporate Directors (WCD) and National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD).

Ms. Rieger holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and organizational development from the University of Illinois.

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Renée Sunde

President & CEO, Washington Retail Association

A passionate, results driven leader with over 30 years of experience working in public and private sectors and non-profit executive management. Sunde is a collaborative leader focused on developing strategic partnerships, expanding industry engagement, garnering statewide influence and advocating for the issues impacting retail. She has been leading the Washington Retail Association (WR) as President & CEO since 2017.

Renée stepped in at a time when the industry was experiencing significant change and transformation. As stewards of Washington’s retail experience, WR is dedicated to working for our members and Washington retailers to grow and strengthen their position with their consumers, legislators, and the marketplace.

Prior to joining WR, Renee served as Economic Development Director for the City of Olympia. There she forged a new priority to focus city efforts on a balanced approach to community and economic development. During her tenure, the city completed the Downtown Strategy that included a retail emphasis and focus on community renewal and downtown economic development.

Prior to her work in Olympia, Sunde served as Deputy Director for the Thurston Economic Development Council. She played a key role in the development and successful launch of the region’s Center for Business & Innovation (CB&I), a partnership between the Thurston EDC and South Puget Sound Community College.

In early 2020 Renée was elected to the Council of State Retail Associations National Board of Directors. CSRA acts as a portal for communications between state retail associations across the country primarily concerning state legislation and regulations affecting the retail industry. Sunde studied Business Management at Northwest University and continued her education through the International Economic Development Council and provided instruction for the Institute of Financial Education.

Renée and her family live in Olympia, Washington.

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R. Scott Shalley

R. Scott Shalley currently serves as President & CEO of the Florida Retail Federation (FRF). As President & CEO, Scott works to advocate, promote and safeguard the retail industry before the Florida legislature and regulatory agencies. Scott maintains responsibility for all areas of FRF operations including oversight of FRF Services, FRF Realty, Georgia Retailers and other related brands and ventures.

 

Scott joined FRF in 2017 and has over 30 years of experience in lobbying, association management and private sector business management. Prior to joining FRF he served as Executive Director of the Florida Association of Counties. Throughout his career, Shalley has worked extensively with lawmakers and government agencies throughout Florida, and in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

Scott previously served as Vice President/Director of Business Management for an internationally recognized bridge engineering firm. His responsibilities included contract negotiation and business development throughout the United States as well as in South America and Saudi Arabia.

 

Mr. Shalley is a lifelong Florida resident, and a graduate of Florida State University.