Keynote Speakers

Phil Lempert

Supermarket Guru

Keynote and Emcee
The Lempert Report: 2022 Forecast & Predictions

In his annual keynote address, SupermarketGuru(R) Phil Lempert shares his 29th Annual Food Trend Forecast. The New York Times says “Lempert’s forecasts are more about context — the whys behind a trend — than simply declaring that everyone will soon be eating charred vegetables and broccoli tots.” This year’s trend forecast follows two years of unprecedented change in retail and highlights the future challenges for retail organizations and CPG companies. Consumer behaviors are focused on maximizing value for their food dollar, understanding how and where their foods come from, personal safety, balancing mental health with day-to-day realities and exploring and understanding the new food products that are being developed with the promise of better health. This keynote delivers a unique approach to all these trends through the lens of the consumer – it is a session not to be missed!


As one of America’s leading consumer analysts, Phil appears regularly in the media: He is the food trends editor and a correspondent for NBC’s Today; offers weekly product reviews on ABC News Now; is host and executive producer of PBS’ Food Sense; and has been featured in many print publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Newsweek. A new media pioneer, his SupermarketGuru.com website is now one of the internet’s leading food and health resources, reaching more than 9 million people each year.

Barbara Connors


What’s In-store for Omnichannel Retail

As vice president of commercial insights for 84.51°, Barbara Connors is an innovator, problem solver and strategist for Kroger and many of the most recognizable consumer packaged goods companies in the global grocery retail industry. She leads a team of 50 insights account managers tasked with developing and growing relationships with more than 1,400 clients—CPGs, media and shopper marketing agencies, food associations, food marketers, and product licensors—who leverage 84.51°’s best-in-class insights solutions to drive sustainable growth for their businesses.

Barbara brings 14 years of customer data science experience to her role at 84.51°.

She joined dunnhumbyUSA / 84.51° in 2008 and has held several leadership positions associated with both Kroger and CPGs.  Her roles include work in merchandising analytics, data insights, loyalty, and media.

As a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business, she earned a master’s degree in marketing research. Barbara has served on the Analytics & Technology Services Committee of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Andrea Leigh

Allume Group

Beyond the Physical Aisle; Navigating Category Management Online

Andrea K. Leigh (she/her) is an eCommerce educator, writer, advisor, and entrepreneur.

As a ten-year former senior executive at Amazon, she led over 15 product categories, helped launch Amazon’s automated pricing system and CRaP (Can’t Realize any Profit) programs, and ran Amazon Prime for Amazon Canada.

Ms. Leigh is co-owner and former VP of Client Strategy at Ideoclick, an Amazon managed services agency that serves over 350 consumer brands. She is a founding member of BevyUp, a social shopping application acquired by Nordstrom in 2018. Ms. Leigh is the founder of two firms: ALC, an eCommerce consulting firm, and Allume Group, an eCommerce education membership network. She is a founding member of the Digital Shelf Institute Executive Forum and a Path to Purchase Institute faculty member.

As an e-Commerce industry expert and thought leader, Ms. Leigh is also a speaker at national eCommerce and retail conferences, a contributing writer and podcast interviewee, and is frequently quoted in the media.

Ms. Leigh holds a BS in Marketing and Spanish from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business and a Masters of Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business.

Her clients include major brands such as L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, KAO Brands, and others.

Erin Fitzgerald

CEO, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action


We have just 30 harvests, the stakes have never been higher for the agriculture sector. Learn about the #DecadeofAg movement— while exploring the financial and environmental opportunities to impact change by 2050 and for agriculture to enable the transformation to a net zero economy. Erin Fitzgerald from U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action will talk about the real challenges farmers face today. Retailers have an opportunity to be #LeadersinAction to meet the increasing demands for food, and ultimately help solve one of the greatest challenges of this generation: climate change.

Samrat Sharma

Partner & Customer Transformation Leader

Building Next-Gen Customer Advantage through Category Management

Samrat is a partner with 20+ years experience serving clients across CPG and Retailers in North America and Emerging Markets.  He specializes in application of emerging technologies for developing new business models to transform the front office and drive profitable growth for CPG. He also serves as PwC’s expertise-area leader for Marketing, Digital Commerce, Customer Advantage and RGM.

Ari Kertész

Partner at Strategy& (part of PWC Network)

Building Next-Gen Customer Advantage through Category Management

An internationally recognized senior consultant with leadership experience serving the consumer goods and retail business sectors across the US and Latin America. Ari Kertész has a demonstrable track record of elevating category management to drive  growth, implementing operational value creation opportunities, improving revenue and profitability and paving the way for sustainable growth. He led US Retail Sales for AB Inbev across On and Off premise channels,  being Ranked # 1 US Supplier on the 2021 Advantage International survey with US Retailers.

Rodney Bates

Managing Director, Consumer Markets Data & Analytics Leader

Building Next-Gen Customer Advantage through Category Management

Established Data and Analytics leader, with 20+ years experience leading large enterprise teams. Driving growth from the application of data and analytics as part of an overall digital transformation, Rod’s areas of expertise span across data strategy and monetization, advanced analytics and AI, and driving data fluency across large organizations. He led Coca-Cola’s first integrated Data, Analytics, and Insights organization across the organization.

John Rolston

Marketing Transformation Leader

Building Next-Gen Customer Advantage through Category Management

John has 18+ years experience leading marketing, digital and loyalty transformations in the consumer goods and retail industries.  He specializes in applying data-driven, technology-enabled innovation to marketing and sales to drive profitable sustained growth and differentiated B2C and B2B customer experiences, including elevating the category management function.

Joshua Seth

Magician, Motivational Speaker & Corporate Entertainer

The Magic of Thinking Differently

In this entertaining, engaging, unconventional keynote experience, celebrity voice actor (and world touring magician) Joshua Seth shares the lessons he’s learned over his 20 year career as the star of one of the top 100 media franchises in the world.

Drawing from his best selling peak performance book “Finding Focus In A Changing World: The Magic of Thinking Differently”, Joshua shows, through personal stories and interactive illusions, just how powerful communication, collaboration, and creativity can be when you think differently and embrace change.


-Become More Influential by Speaking With Your Authentic Voice
-Your Network Is Your Net Worth – The Value of Teamwork & Collaboration
-How To Use Your Creativity to Solve Problems and Innovate Solutions
-The Secret To Overcoming Fear and Communicating With Confidence

Pat Mooney


Data & Consumer Centrism: The Future of Brick & Mortar

Marilyn Hershey

Dairy Management Inc.


Marilyn Hershey is the chair of Dairy Management Inc., and a director on the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) board. UDIA and the National Dairy Board fund Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors at U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action.

Marilyn and her husband Duane own and operate Ar-Joy Farms, LLC, a Pennsylvania family farm nestled about an hour west of Philadelphia and forty minutes north of the Chesapeake Bay. Their long family history of dairy farming is evident as they care for the land (550 acres), the animals (800 milking cows) and their employees.

Environmental stewardship is a priority for the Hershey’s and they have many on-farm practices that conserve water and soil, reducing their carbon footprint. In 2017, they installed a methane digester, taking manure from the cows and converting it to electricity. They are also able to incorporate food waste from the local community, increasing the amount of gas produced from the methane digester. The digester produces enough gas to run their farm as well as contribute to their community.

In 2017, Marilyn was recognized as World Dairy Expo’s Dairy Woman of the Year and in 2018 she was honored by Corteva Agriscience on International Day of Rural Women as one of ten women recognized from around the world for her leadership in agriculture. Marilyn also writes a regular column for Hoard’s Dairyman.

Dairy Management Inc.™ is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers. DMI manages the American Dairy Association®, National Dairy Council®, the U.S. Dairy Export Council® (USDEC) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Breakout Speakers

Damian Salas

Drexel University

How to Embrace an Intrapreneur Mindset (Organizational and Professional Development)

Damian Salas is Associate Dean of Academic Partnerships at the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University. As head of partnerships, Damian leads a portfolio of diversified revenue programs including corporate and academic development.

Damian is the first faculty appointed to the Close School. His focus areas include startup and enterprise growth. Damian has led multiple State Department-funded consulting projects, providing technical expertise on enterprise growth to international startups and incubators.

Damian spent 23 years as a senior director in corporate Human Resources for large nonprofits in the Philadelphia region. He is the founding chair of the Philadelphia Alliance Workforce Domain. Damian led the human capital strategy and economic policy for over 30,000 employees spread over 50 member organizations.

Jason Stout


CatMan 3.0: Internal and External Alignment (Learning and Adopting CatMan 3.0)

Jason Stout is currently on the Category Leadership Team at Conagra Brands, Inc calling on Walmart. Prior to joining Conagra through the Pinnacle Foods acquisition in 2018, he worked at Nestle Purina in Business Development leading the Sales Analyst team, category insights for the Sales Team, and development of a new hybrid model with Shopper Insights and Sales. Prior to Nestle Purina, he worked at Walmart for over 8 years holding various roles in Supply Chain Innovation, Financial Planning, Replenishment and leading the Category and Modular Development Team in Health and Wellness while always having a focus on developing innovative approaches to analytics and category strategy. He holds a M.S. and B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas focusing on applied statistics and optimization theory.

Jennifer Britton


Update on the CatMan & SI Job Market and Tips for Success (Organizational & Professional Development)

Jennifer Britton has spent the last 8 years as a consumer goods and retail recruiter at Versique, one of the largest recruiting firms in the Midwest specializing in both consulting and permanent placement for a variety of industries including retail/CPG. Prior to recruiting, Jenn spent more than 15 years in retail and CPG, holding roles such as Category Manager, VP of Business Development and National Account Manager at companies including Colgate Palmolive, Crayola, and Bristol Meyers Squibb. Jenn’s extensive industry experience throughout a variety of roles makes her a successful recruiter in the consumer goods and retail space.

Kristen McConkey


CatMan 3.0 Tactics: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion (Learning and Adopting CatMan 3.0)

Kristen McConkey is a Capabilities Team Lead at Unilever, where she ensures that the Category Management function of field teams have the information/tools necessary so their retailers and internal teams can drive growth and build out category strategies respectively, to have a positive impact overall on both Unilever and the category. Kristen also helps to onboard new team members through developing and providing training courses about leveraging available data and tools. Prior to this role, Kristen was the Team Lead for the Discount and Emerging Channels at Unilever, she’s held varying field-based roles at Conagra Foods, and internal based roles at QTG/Tropicana, bringing her 25 years of experience in Category Management.

Samuel Raia


CatMan 3.0: Goal Setting and Scorecard (Learning and Adopting CatMan 3.0)

Passionate about CPG and with a love for category management, Sam currently serves as the Director of Category Leadership for JUUL Labs. Prior to this role, Sam was director of Retail Sales with JUUL where he provided strategic sales thought leadership. Sam takes a relationship driven approach with his retailers that leverages key category management principles into successful partnerships. He believes winning together should always be the path forward and is hands down the best way to meet the needs of the consumer. Before JUUL, Sam worked as the Division Leader of Tires and Pricing Strategy at Sears Holding Corporation.

Sasha Teska

Arterra Wines

How Insights Immersion Sets the Tone for the Evolving Category Management Process (Insights and Shopper Immersion)

Sasha Teska has spent the past 15 years developing category management, retail and shopper strategy in Bev Alc and across CPG. He is currently the Director of Category Management and Sales Strategy at Arterra Wines Canada. In the past 8 years at Arterra Wines Canada, he’s worked closely with retailers to shape the new entrance of wine into grocery stores and navigate major changes in markets, retailers and shopper behavior resulting from Covid.

This past year, he worked closely with the CMA on Category Management 3.0 leveraging aspects of his own collaborative category management approach to help shape the new insights immersion part of the process. He has leveraged this innovative process with his team to drive value for his customers.

Scott Cahall


CatMan 3.0 Tactics: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion (Learning and Adopting CatMan 3.0)

As Tyson Foods’ Director of Category & Shopper Leadership, Scott Cahall is responsible for supporting and developing a best-in-class team that currently manages 10 key advisorships across Frozen, Refrigerated and Fresh grocery departments. His team partners with Walmart in driving category strategy, assortment and shelving execution using syndicated and shopper data, custom research, robust analytics and sophisticated merchandising tools. Scott has been with Tyson for over 11 years, and is a leading voice in equity, inclusion and diversity within the company.

Valerie Wilson


Power Of Data Integration In Category Management Strategy And Execution
(Retailer Specific Insights and Best Practices)

Valerie Wilson is the Vice President, Category Management/Space Planning for Albertsons Companies, one of the top grocery retailers in the U.S. with over 2300 stores under 20 banners. Her current role includes national responsibility for Albertson’s category management program (CATalyst) and all space planning disciplines.  Valerie has spent 30 years in the CPG and retail business with a focus in category management, shopper analytics, marketing and sales at Safeway Inc, Clorox, Nabisco and Procter & Gamble.

Vivian Polishuk

Clif Bar

Reporting Structure: Pros/Cons of an Independent Insights and Analytics Team (Organizational and Professional Development)

Vivian Polishuk has led the development and socialization of Shopper Insights at Clif Bar for the past four years.  She partners with the Category Leadership and Consumer Insights teams to generate thought leadership for our external retail partners and just as importantly, for our internal cross functional organization.  Prior to joining Clif Bar, Vivian led a regional Category Management team at Campbell Soup for 11 years, spent a few years in client service at IRI, and has held a range of roles in Marketing and Finance at a number of other major CPGs.  Vivian also co-chairs the Asian American Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group at Clif.

Wendy Wallner


Update on US Consumer Confidence (Insights and Shopper Immersion)

Wendy is Senior Vice President at Ipsos, a top global research company, has over 25 years of experience beginning with P&G in brand management, followed by positions at Nielsen, and others. She has led research practices for North American businesses in Retail, Restaurant, Fashion, Travel industries. She joined IPSOS, a top global research company, in 2018 to hold positions in Market Strategy, Innovation and UX.  She is currently leading client relationships across key retailers and restaurants. In this client officer position, Wendy acts as an advocate for clients and brings the best possible solutions and experts together to solve client business issues.

Mike Wojcikiewicz


Pepviz – Harnessing the Power of Retailor and Shopper Data
(Retailer Insights and Best Practices)

Mike “Woj” Wojcikiewicz is a 20+ year retail, category, and insights veteran with experience across multiple retailers, CPG companies, and food and beverage categories.  He is currently PepsiCo’s Director of Shopper Strategy & Capabilities.  In this role, he leads insight commercialization and communications for PepsiCo’s Demand Accelerator group.  This includes pepviz, PepsiCo’s proprietary, retailer focused, data practice that unlocks granular demand by leveraging behavioral insights, sales tools, and advanced analytics.

Prior to his current role, Mike spent over 10 years in category management at PepsiCo and Conagra.  He has worked with multiple C&G, grocery, and club customers including Costco, Casey’s, Roundy’s, Hy-Vee, and Walgreens.  In addition to this work, Mike is actively involved with the category management program at DePaul University’s Center for Sales leadership, and he currently serves on the executive council for PepsiCo’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, EQUAL.

Robin Alex


Strategic Problem Framing
(Retailer Insights and Best Practices)

As Group Head of Shopper Insights, CATMAN, & Space Management at Mondelēz International, Robin Alex transforms and reinvents insights functions to be externally focused, consumer and shopper driven, and empathetic to retailers’ growth aspirations. With a background in engineering and marketing research, he has held a variety of domestic and global roles in consumer and shopper insights in the CPG space, including stints at Tyson Foods, The Hershey Company and Newell. Robin is continually inspired by the combination of influencing and storytelling grounded in insights, analytics and strategy.

Steven Cunix


Retail in a Consumer, Curation, and Calendar Revolution
(Retailer Insights and Best Practices)

Steve Cunix is a Principal at Kearney in the Consumer Goods and Retail Practice, with 10 years of combined management consulting and investment banking experience. His primary focus and areas of expertise are strategic transformation, operating model implementation, and growth enablement.  Prior to joining Kearney, Steve worked in Finance, conducting M&A for CPGs and Retailers.  Steve has a BA in Finance from Indiana University – Kelley School of Business and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Lisa Coleman

Giant Food

WINNING HEALTH: Personalization, Transparency, and Vendor Partnerships
(Organizational and Professional Development)

Lisa Coleman, MS, RD, LDN is the Director of Healthy Living at Giant Food.  Lisa is responsible for Giant’s Healthy Living strategy including innovative programming that promotes nutrition equity, food access, and community well-being. Lisa leads a team of ten healthy living specialists providing education, support and guidance to customers, associates and communities in store and online. As chairperson of Giant’s Women Inclusion Network, Lisa actively champions women towards professional and personal fulfillment.  Born and raised in Baltimore, Lisa received a Bachelor of Science from Penn State and a Master of Science from Illinois State University. As a mom of four teenagers, Lisa is a self-described Enneagram enthusiast who loves podcasts, walking the NCR Trail, and weekend getaways to the beach!

Marybeth Hays


Retail in a Consumer, Curation, and Calendar Revolution
(Retailer Insights and Best Practices)

Marybeth Hays brings over 20 years of retail merchandising expertise across hardlines, softlines, health care, and consumables, most recently as an EVP with Walmart US. She was chief merchant for Walmart China and an executive with Sam’s Club and Lowe’s Home Improvement. She began her career in brand management with Hanesbrands. Marybeth currently consults and serves on several corporate boards, including JOANN Stores. She is Executive in Residence with Kearney. Marybeth is a Trustee of Wake Forest University, where she earned a BA and an MBA.

Katie Thomas


Retail in a Consumer, Curation, and Calendar Revolution
(Retailer Insights and Best Practices)

Katie Thomas, lead of the Kearney Consumer Institute (KCI), has nearly 15 years of experience operating as an advocate for and expert on all things consumer. Katie’s career began in management consulting at Kearney, partnering with Fortune 500 consumer and retail clients. Katie later shifted into brand management for beloved brands from Heinz to Aidells. Returning to Kearney to lead the KCI, Katie reframes challenges from a consumer-centric perspective. She has a BBA from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (go blue!) and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Stacey Ring-Sanders


SNAC – New World of Omni – Creating Seamless Customer Value
(Insights and Shopper Immersion)

Stacey Ring-Sanders has been Vice President of Category Management for the last 9 years. In her role, Ms. Ring-Sanders currently manages execution of strategies and tactics across assortment, merchandising, pricing and promotion to help retailers drive overall category growth within the categories Kellogg competes in.  Her role has expanded to focus on overall portfolio strategy across multiple categories.  Her focus on total store/aisle solutions has driven results for retailers across the U.S.  Her partnership with senior leaders across grocery has led to several key recognitions by those retailers.

Meera Patel


SNAC – New World of Omni – Creating Seamless Customer Value
(Insights and Shopper Immersion)

Meera Patel is the Director, Omnichannel Strategy at the Kellogg Company where she’s on a mission to transform the company’s strategies with retailers by leveraging data and technology. She is also an advisory board member for a stealth mode start-up and predictive analytics company based in Israel.

She has over 15 years of CPG experience in a variety of marketing, commercial and digital roles on the agency and manufacturer slide working with Pepsi, Unilever & Grey Global to name a few. She was also the Founder/ CEO of an eCommerce company, Devi’s Closet, a Rent the Runway for Indian clothing and accessories.  Along with this she led marketing for an ed-tech start-up in the US and UK which was bought by The Princeton Review and IAC.

Meera lives in Hoboken, NJ with her undergraduate degree from Boston University. She loves to travel, cook, spend time in NYC and be a #BoyMom. She is dedicated to service and has spent time volunteering and leading community projects through Amigos de Las Americas in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay.

Flora Delaney

Delaney Consulting

Rise of the Professional Shopper and the Impact on Space Planning

Flora Delaney is a retail business consultant and former executive with over 20 years of multi-channel, cross-functional experience. Her engaging style inspires high-performance teams within a trustworthy and collaborative atmosphere. A natural storyteller and pragmatic leader, in 2019 she wrote her first book:  Retail The Second-Oldest Profession, 7 Timeless Principles to WIN in Retail Today.

Before starting her consulting company in 2005, Flora held various positions in the retail and consumer goods industries including VP of Merchandising and Visual Merchandising, Director of Space, Pricing and Promotions at Best Buy, Director of Category Management at AholdUSA, Director of Business Services at Blue Yonder,  Account Manager at Unilever and at ACNielsen.

Flora’s functional experience includes: Category Management, Merchandising, Store Design, Pricing, Forecasting, Process Development, Data Warehouse Management, IT, Marketing Research and Account Management.

Chris DeFinizio


Leveraging Virtual Research to Drive Category Growth

Kraft-Heinz, Wakefern, 345, & Acosta have partnered shorten the time, complexity, and effort needed to make informed, data-led decisions to instore shelving conditions. Each stakeholder brought their industry, retailer, & category expertise and existing research together to test category redesign hypothesizes. 345 & Acosta brought these hypothetical aisle flows to life in a virtual shopping environment. Join us to hear best practices, key learnings, and how we were able to jointly significantly reduce the time between idea and execution!

Grace Fraraccio


Leveraging Virtual Research to Drive Category Growth

Grace has worked in category management for the past 17 years working at Coca-Cola, Nielsen, Edgewell and Kraft Heinz. Currently Grace leads the category management team that develops business plans for  Wakefern, HEB, and Publix. Grace resides in Tampa with her husband, 2 children and dog.

Kaye Young


Leveraging Virtual Research to Drive Category Growth

Kaye Young, is a CPG industry leader with extensive experience across all trade channels, demonstrating expertise in Category Management, Shopper Insights, Consumer Insights, Shopper Marketing and converting insights to action via inductive and deductive thought processes for retailers, manufacturers, brokers and suppliers.  Kaye joined Acosta in a synergistic business role to integrate business and growth initiatives and also leads research initiatives with 345 technology. Category Management, Shopper Marketing and Business  Best Practices expert Kaye contributed co-authored CatMan 2.0, the newest and most comprehensive book regarding Category Management.  All case studies and  examples and many processes detailed in CatMan 2.0 utilized Kaye’s proprietary research processes.   Kaye assisted in the Category Management certification development program currently utilized worldwide. She also wrote a Shopper Marketing text used in colleges and universities. Developer of breakthrough insight-based category plans in categories ranging from fresh meat and produce to seasonal candy, electronics and apparel. For over 30 years, Kaye has worked with all key retailers, all classes of trade, including Walmart and their vendor partners.  Kaye was chosen by top management at Walmart to provide research and insights for key strategic direction in many categories resulting in several growth initiatives including $4 prescriptions and Environmental Sustainability. Creator of Shopper Marketing and CatMan tools including an algorithm for sizing the retail sales opportunity Kaye developed industry standards for Category and Consumer Decision Trees, Benchmarking and a Path to Purchase model, used by retailers and manufacturers to drive their businesses. Kaye established proposal provisions for Category Advisorship/Captaincy, Category/Line Reviews and Joint Business Planning protocols. Kaye has written several business growth and reinvention measurement algorithms that have helped retailers and manufacturers move their business by multiple share points. Kaye invented the proprietary Focus Group Learning Lab (FGLL) approach Kaye has been engaged by management at top retailers to help them understand cultural stresses within their organization.  She also guest lectures on the  topics of  Category Management and Shopper Marketing at several universities.

Stacey Maniscalco


New omnichannel insights informing what consumers really want