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2019 SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Michael O. Browning Jr.

CEO | Urban Air Adventure Park

In 2011, Michael Browning founded Urban Air Adventure Parks where he currently holds the title of CEO. Through speed and innovation, Urban Air has become the nation’s premier full-service active family entertainment company offering safe, clean, affordable fun for all ages. As of Q1 2019, Urban Air has over 270 locations ramping to employ over 23,000 young adults and serve 48 million guests annually. Urban Air plans to open 74 new locations in 2019 with another 70 starts which will open in 2020. Michael believes every guest has a story. Urban Air’s mission is to enhance the story through engaging atmospheres that leverage the combination of lighting, sound, attractions and a guest-centric staff.

Ryan Craver

CEO | Commerce Canal

Ryan Craver’s natural fascination with the intersection of retail and technology has led to a career of inspiring and leading brands to be on the forefront of the evolving “connected retail” environment. Ryan is the Founder and CEO of Commerce Canal, a retail advisory firm driving $100 million in annual retail sales for some of the world’s largest brands in apparel, footwear, jewelry, and industrial equipment. Brands include New Balance, Hanes, LEGO, Alexis Bittar, Logitech, NFL and NBA. Prior to his current roles, Ryan was in charge of the core department store strategy at Lord & Taylor / Hudson’s Bay Company / Saks and was a senior leader at Accenture, driving growth and profit improvement across multiple clients, including Virgin Media, FedEx and Best Buy.

Sherif Mityas

Chief Experience Officer | TGI Fridays

Sherif Mityas is the Chief Experience Officer for TGI FRIDAYS with oversight for the Brand’s Strategy, Marketing, Operations, Technology and Digital efforts. Sherif has more than 20 years’ experience in the retail and hospitality industries in both senior consulting and executive industry roles. Prior to joining TGI FRIDAYS, Sherif served as the Managing Partner for JS Consulting and as the Chief Executive Officer for Hollywood Video/Movie Gallery. Sherif received a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University, a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

PANELISTS & MODERATORS

Michelle Adams

Director, Marketing | Freshii

Michelle Adams joined Freshii in December 2015 and has helped lead the brand through their extreme growth ever since. She started as the brand’s first Experiential Marketing Manager, focused on store-level marketing support & developing customized marketing plans to the 300+ franchise partners. She now oversees Global Brand strategy, including partnerships, advertising, menu innovation and is responsible for managing all brand communication touchpoints. Prior to joining Freshii, Michelle worked for WE, a global non-profit, running executive fundraising events and prior to that, worked in sport & brand licensing for IMG & the Toronto Blue Jays.

Christopher Ager

Head of Restaurant Operations | Uber Eats

Christopher Ager is Head of Restaurant Operations for Uber Eats for US & Canada, where Uber partners with over 100,000 restaurants. He’s focused on empowering restaurants to grow their businesses through off-premise sales, utilizing Uber’s extensive logistics network and technology capabilities. Chris started his career in restaurants at the age of 14, and he’s been worked with them in a number of capacities throughout his career, including back-of-house and front-of-house roles, concept development, finance, and B2B software. Chris holds degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, and Harvard Business School.

Lisa Ajdini

Former Sr. Director, Global Digital Marketing Strategy | Caesars Entertainment

Lisa Ajdini has over 15 years’ experience in mobile, interactive marketing, digital products innovation and loyalty marketing. Experienced leader in campaign development strategy and marketing technology. Focus in automotive, gaming and hospitality. She currently is Sr. Director, Global Digital Marketing Strategy at Caesars Entertainment where she leads strategy for mobile marketing, push and SMS. Prior to joining Caesars Entertainment, she worked with BBDO agency on the DaimlerChrysler account in International Marketing.

Derin Alemli

Founder & CEO | Square Roots Kitchen

Derin Alemli is the Founder & CEO of Square Roots Kitchen, a technology-enabled fast casual healthy restaurant located at 120 S Halsted in Chicago. SRK automates customer interactions and kitchen operations, and has been revolutionary in creating a humanized approach to automation that makes for happy customers and an efficient operation. SRK is expanding, and developing its tech as a SaaS product for other restaurants. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur Derin worked in hedge fund portfolio management for Grosvenor Capital Management. Derin has an MBA from the University of Chicago in addition to holding the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Brian Anderson

Director of Technology | Modern Restaurant Concepts

Brian Anderson took on the role of Director of Technology at Modern Restaurant Concepts after the merger of Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade was completed this year. Brian is responsible for the entire technology stack for both brands. Prior to the inception of Modern Restaurant Concepts Brian was the Dir. of Technology for Modern Market Eateries. In the last two years he has rolled out several new systems to improve operations and business continuity. Brian is a third-generation restaurateur, with his roots in operations. He has worked every role in the FOH and BOH over his career before his passion for technology took over.

Lee Auerbach

SVP of Sales | Chatmeter

Lee Auerbach is the Senior Vice President of Sales at Chatmeter, the leader in local search marketing and review management. He has over 15 years’ experience in helping digital and MarTech companies grow including Groupon, Motivequest, Economist, Mediaplanet, and C.I.M. He specializes in scaling new technology companies and/or technology divisions in the marketplace. He now focuses on helping brands identify and integrate the right marketing technology to improve their online visibility and reputation. Lee is also an avid back-country outdoorsman and a 25-year veteran photographer.

Brenda Barré

Director of Mobile & Digital Innovation | Caesars Entertainment

Brenda Barré is the Director of Mobile and Digital Innovation at Caesars Entertainment, the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment provider and the most geographically diverse U.S. casino-entertainment company. Brenda brings a strong knowledge of enhancing the guest experience through mobile technology having successfully launched Ivy, the real-time guest text messaging program, at eighteen (18) Caesars Entertainment resorts to date comprising over 30,000 rooms. Brenda has been with Caesars Entertainment since 2012 and has served in various roles within the organization including Executive Assistant to the Chairman, President & CEO and Executive Marketing Associate to the Chief Marketing Officer. Brenda won a Caesars Award of Excellence in 2018.

Liz Bazner

Digital Manager | A&W Restaurants

Liz Bazner is a self-proclaimed foodie who currently serves as Digital Manager for A&W Restaurants, the nation’s oldest franchised restaurant chain. Liz leads the development of digital & social campaigns to increase brand awareness & drive measurable traffic to A&W locations across the country, as well as overseeing the consumer-facing website & email marketing program. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in political science & public policy, Liz worked for a variety of public officials doing PR & campaign management work before joining the A&W team.

Vishal Bhalla

VP, Chief Experience Officer | Parkland Hospital

Vishal Bhalla joined Parkland in August 2016 and soon moved into the role of Vice President and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), focusing on the experience of employees, providers, patients and their families. Transitioning to healthcare a few years ago from a successful career in hospitality, Vishal completed his Master of Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along with a Healthcare Certificate from the joint Harvard-MIT Healthcare Innovation Initiative. Vishal is passionate about leveraging analytics, technology and system sciences, along with his extensive experience in managing large service operations, to add rigor to the art of human interaction; thereby enabling meaningful employee and patient experiences.

Amit Bhardwaj

Former VP, Customer Experience | Fred’s

Amit Bhardwaj is the former Vice President of Customer Experience and Enterprise Analytics for Fred’s. He helped Fred’s find & build AI-driven solutions for targeted digital marketing and personalization across social & digital channels. He was previously with Shop Your Way, Sears loyalty platform that has over 50 M members and with Marsh where he led the implementation of the first ever ibeacon platform for location-based marketing Amit thrives on improving customer experience taking advantage of exciting new developments in AI, marketing technology and digital landscape.

Michelle Bossemeyer

Product Manager | Great Wolf Lodge

Michelle Bossemeyer is the Product Manager of the Digital Guest Experience at Great Wolf Resorts, the largest indoor waterpark resort group in the U.S with 17 properties and 2 opening soon. Michelle is driving a digital transformation on the website, mobile app and conversational interface on phone and chat. Michelle joined Great Wolf about a year ago and brings along passion and experience in digital user experience, digital marketing and brand advertising from Discover.

Jordan Campbell

VP of Marketing | Mooala Brands

Jordan Campbell is the VP of Marketing for Mooala, a rapidly-growing organic, dairy alternative brand. Mooala’s famous Bananamilks, Almondmilks, Oatmilk and Creamers are available nationwide in retailers like Whole Foods, Albertsons-Safeway, Costco and more. Jordan oversees Mooala’s marketing functions, from research and development, to advertising and product launches, to customer listening and retention. Prior to joining Mooala, Jordan led Digital Marketing at la Madeleine, where she specialized in building strategies to strengthen app engagement and adoption, delivering relevant and meaningful rewards, and generating incremental traffic-driving initiatives. Jordan has over 10 years’ experience marketing some of the nation’s most notable brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Pizza Hut and Borden Dairy.

Geovannie Concepcion

CEO | The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille

As Chief Operating Officer of Famous Dave’s Geo Concepcion is focused on building engaging in store and digital experiences for guests. He leads Famous Dave’s corporate and franchise operations, marketing, training, culinary and information services teams. Geo has been focused on the digital transformation of Famous Dave’s through the launch of third party delivery services, loyalty and mobile app and management of brand wide paid search and social strategies. In his prior role Geo led Famous Dave’s development team which focused on franchise sales, refranchising, new prototypes and brand refreshes. Prior to joining Famous Dave’s Geo spent a decade in the financial sector holding various roles in investment banking, hedge funds and private equity.

David Coulson

VP of Innovation | Tandem Theory

David Coulson is the Head of Innovation for Tandem Theory, an integrated, data sciences based agency in Addison, TX. A huge analytics and loyalty marketing geek, he has built best in class loyalty programs for some of the world’s top brands as well as the platforms, apps or engagements rooted in personalization that continue to increase their lifetime value with fans. Some of his past and present clients include Starbuck’s, Panera, Rent A Center, Domino’s, MGRMI, American Express, and PepsiCo. He’s an influential, creative, make-it-happen marketing leader with deep consumer and technology experience that truly loves helping brands exceed their consumer’s expectations while growing their digital footprint.

Christina Coy

VP of Marketing | Pie Five Pizza

Christina Coy, Vice President of Marketing for Pie Five Pizza Co., has been in the food business for over a decade. She leads brand marketing for the fast casual pizza concept and has been instrumental in creating digital and in store marketing campaigns, menu development, and guest engagement platforms including the infamous Circle of Crust. She joined RAVE Restaurant Group in 2009 and was part of the original team that created Pie Five in 2011. Prior to becoming a pizza aficionado, she spent five years at ad agencies working on QSR brands such as Domino’s and Popeye’s Chicken.

Ruth Crowley

Former VP, Customer Experience Design | Lowe’s

Ruth Crowley joined Lowe’s in 2016 as Vice President, Customer Experience Design. Using Human-centered design methodology, she is responsible for leading her team’s efforts to create cohesive customer experiences that are emotionally and seasonally relevant and aligned with strategic company objectives. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Ruth worked with Entertainment Retail Enterprises with clients like Nickelodeon and M&M’s World Stores, creating customized products, flagship stores and experiences in global markets. Ruth also has diverse experience with other iconic companies including Harley-Davidson, Universal Studios and Host Marriott (Airports), with a focus on design, retail, product and brand development. She describes herself as a continuing student of business.

Justine Santa Cruz

SVP of Enterprise & Retail | Satisfi Labs

Justine Santa Cruz is the SVP of Enterprise and Retail at Satisfi Labs. She helps brands, retailers, and enterprise organizations find AI-driven solutions to their biggest customer experience needs. Justine has a keen talent for uncovering and implementing disruptive technologies in the retail industry. She uses that expertise to lead a team whose mission is to help brand’s build a comprehensive conversational search and commerce strategy. Before joining Satisfi Labs, Justine led omnichannel marketing innovation projects at Macy’s where she modernized and streamlined the traditional customer experience through first-to-market technology integrations. She is a graduate of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and lifelong learner.

Laura Rea Dickey

CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants

Laura Rea Dickey currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Laura served as the Chief Information Officer for eight years, and made the transition to CEO after excelling in her previous role. She has worked in the marketing and information technology field for over 15 years, and has led the marketing, IT and training departments at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. during her time there. After graduating from Texas Christian University in 2001, Dickey went on to work at agencies such as Murray Brown Creative Group and The Richards Group. Laura’s specialty is the intersection of technology and marketing, turning data insights into brand and business solutions.

Christiana DiMattesa

Instore & Experiential Marketing Director, North America | Under Armour

Christiana DiMattesa oversees Under Armour’s North America direct-to-consumer retail marketing team inclusive of marketing strategy, operations, in-store experience, and event activations. Christiana has spent 20 years working within the retail space and has a passion to utilize technology to change the interactive landscape of the retail environment. She has been with Under Armour since August 2014 and previously held marketing roles with Ann Inc. and Foot Locker.

David Drain

Senior VP of Events | Networld Media Group

David Drain leads the events team for Networld Media Group and has more than 20 years of experience in association management, event planning, writing and speaking. He has served as executive director of the Digital Signage Association (a group he co-founded), the Self-Service & Kiosk Association and the merged organization, Digital Screenmedia Association. Previously he was EVP for the Foodservice Consultants Society International.

Len Dudis

CIO | Grupo Vidanta

As CIO of Grupo Vidanta, Len Dudis leads the technology team for one of Mexico’s largest and most innovative resort companies. His key areas of focus are strategic planning, deployment and integration of digital signage within the company’s resorts and future theme parks currently under construction. He is working closely with company line of business leaders to devise digital signage strategies based on business goals. Len previously held both IT and business operations leadership positions with The Walt Disney Company and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and helped to define and deploy digital signage at those company’s theme parks and resorts.

Timothy Embretson

Senior Director, Retail & Services UX, Activation & Selling Tools | Best Buy

Timothy Embretson grew up on a small Iowa farm where he learned to appreciate solving problems with simple ideas. Armed with a degree in graphic design and a passion to advocate for users above all else, he has helped businesses of all sizes solve complex problems. He is currently challenging traditional retail at Best Buy in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has spent the last several years building the inaugural Employee Experience UX COE and leading retail product teams.

Scott Emmons

Chief Technology Officer | Current Global

Scott Emmons brings his expertise in innovation to the role of Chief Technology Officer at the Current Global, where he oversees an ever-expanding ecosystem of startups and tech partners from around the world, managing their integration with brand and retail clients across fashion, beauty and tech. He comes from the Neiman Marcus Group, where he founded and built the innovation lab (iLab) in 2012, using it as a basis to elevate technology innovation to be a core value at the company. Scott was responsible for evaluating, designing, testing and piloting cutting-edge technologies and applications for luxury retail.

Kevin Fish

SVP, Digital Technology | Wingstop

Kevin Fish, Senior Vice President of Digital for Wingstop Restaurants, is responsible for the strategy, development and operation of guest-facing digital and ecommerce solutions including Wingstop.com, iOS and Android mobile apps. Kevin joined Wingstop in February 2014 and has also served as Senior Director of Restaurant Technology and Vice President of Digital Technology, overseeing Wingstop’s digital business as well as restaurant point of sale systems, back office systems and restaurant network infrastructure. Prior to Wingstop, he served as Sr. Manager of Ecommerce for Pizza Hut from 2009-2014. Kevin has also held various technical and management positions at FedEx Office, Ernst & Young and Cap Gemini.

Steve Felson

EVP, Business Operations | BurgerFi

Speaker bio coming soon!

Zachary Fleming

GM Digital Health | Baylor, Scott & White Health

Zachary Fleming is a fanatic problem solver and technologist that has set his sights on Healthcare. He currently serves as Digital Health GM with Baylor Scott & White Health. Zachary is responsible for reimagining the healthcare experience through harnessing modern technologies such as cloud, automation, apps, and AI. He has previously held roles as an IT strategist, PMO Portfolio specialist, Integration Architect, and non-profit entrepreneur.

Mike Ferguson

President | VMAC Solutions

Mike Ferguson is an office coffee service/vending operator turned industry intermediary business broker. He has a passion for helping operators achieve their goals through his M&A intermediary services and coaching with technology challenges and operational issues such as vending management systems software, LightSpeed Automation warehouse fulfillment, warehouse prekitting, office coffee and micro markets unattended kiosks.

Mark Garcia

Director, Operations Systems | AMC Theatres

Mark Garcia is the Director, Operations Systems for AMC Theatres. With over 30 years’ experience in theatre operations, his role is to share the operations perspective with AMC’s IT team as they identify and implement technologies and to develop best practices around those technologies that enhance the guests’ experience and improve associate efficiency. A long-time innovator in the motion picture exhibition industry, AMC Theatres has integrated self-service kiosks into the existing box office with an improved UX to provide guests with control over their own ticket buying experience in theatres. This year, AMC became the first theatre chain to introduce cash enabled self-service ticketing kiosks.

Bernie Gessner

VP, Global Customer Experience | Fossil Group

Vice President of Global Customer Experience for Fossil Group, Bernie Gessner, has led an illustrious career in retail. With the constant aim of creating an extraordinary customer experience, Bernie has built and led teams serving B2B and B2C customers in both retail stores and the contact center space. Bernie joined Fossil in 2006 and has since held the positions of Senior Director of Store Operations & Customer Care, and District Manager for multiple districts across the upper Midwest and Southwestern US. Prior to working for Fossil, Bernie worked for several service-focused brands, including Eddie Bauer and Brooks Brothers.

Mike Grange

Director, Digital Delivery Experience | Domino’s

Mike Grange is the Director of Digital Delivery Experience at Domino’s, the #1 pizza delivery company in the world. Mike has over 16 years experience in the restaurant industry leading digital technology initiatives. In his current role, Mike leads the team focused on bringing new digital pizza delivery experiences to customers and employees like Domino’s Hotspots®, enhanced delivery tracking, mobile assistants, and autonomous delivery vehicles.

Brad Gubser

VP, Store Planning & Development | Shoe Carnival

Speaker bio coming soon!

Christopher Hall

Managing Director | ICX Association

Christopher Hall is Managing Director of ICX Association. Prior to this position he was managing editor of content for B2B publisher Networld Media Group, and the editor of DigitalSignageToday.com, the leading news portal for the digital signage industry, covering digital out of-home advertising, digital billboards, experiential digital branding and digital signage hardware, software and displays. An award-winning former newspaper reporter and magazine writer, Christopher is a five-year veteran of the digital signage and kiosk industries who has consulted for and spoken on the digital signage industry sector-wide.

Patrice Hall

Group Product Manager – Stores Tech & Experience | Williams-Sonoma

Speaker bio coming soon!

Will Hanrahan

Digital Marketing Manager | Fazoli’s

Will Hanrahan is the Digital Marketing Manager at Fazoli’s, leading the digital strategy for America’s largest Italian elevated QSR chain focusing on CRM, social and digital advertising. Will has overseen the growth of the Fazoli’s Rewards Program since launching the Fazoli’s app in 2017. He is also responsible for Fazoli’s digital knowledge management along with leading their review response process.

Samantha Henderson

Marketing Manager | Caliber Collision Centers

Samantha Henderson is Marketing Manager for Caliber Collision Centers, the largest collision repair company in the world operating more than 1,000+ locations across 37 states. Samantha joined Caliber Collision in 2014 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Texas at Dallas. Samantha’s current responsibilities encompass every element of Caliber’s online reputation, including the management and analysis of reviews, ratings, and responses across all relevant review channels, and Caliber’s online presence, including social media and search engine optimization. Since joining Caliber in 2014, Samantha has experienced roles and responsibilities across all aspects of marketing, including branding, events, communications, and community involvement.

David Hewitt

Group Vice President | Publicis.Sapient

David Hewitt serves as Group Vice President of experience strategy and global mobility lead for Publicis.Sapient and brings more than 20 years of experience in design, technology, and mobile. He drives innovation for clients by helping them place the right strategic bets, design around the needs of the customer, and take advantage of emerging technologies and intelligent platforms to best connect brands and customers. He is a founder of Publicis.Sapient Mobile Center of Excellence, a full service team dedicated to designing and developing customer centric experiences across mobile, web, voice, and smart environments. As global mobility strategy lead, David helps brands take a mobile-first approach to transforming their business around tomorrow’s customer.

Robert Hill

Director of Software | Galaxy Theatres

Robert Hill is Director of Software for Galaxy Theatres which is based in Sherman Oaks, California. He has 15+ years experience in entertainment industry IT, having worked for entertainment studio Cinedigm as a project manager and cinema management software provider Vista Entertainment Solutions as an account manager before joining Galaxy. Robert believes that making sure that the hardware and software being used is fast and reliable is critical to taking customer/guest interactions to the next level and ensuring a positive experience.

Lisa Huertas

Chief Experience Officer | Texas Tech FCU

For the past 18 years, Lisa has served the financial industry in a variety of leadership roles. From co-founding a successful design and development firm for financial institutions to the vice president of a banking compliance company to strategic consulting for financial institutions as FTSI’s Vice President of Emerging Markets. Lisa has worked with hundreds of bank and credit union leadership teams to understand and develop their vision, strategy, culture and critical technology. She has been described as innovative, with a unique lens that is an asset to industry thought leaders. Lisa has been recognized nationally for her professional excellence.

Natalie Ikemeier

Director, Digital & Social Media Marketing | Corner Bakery Cafe

Natalie Ikemeier spent the majority of her 16-year marketing career serving national chain clients at restaurant marketing agencies. Natalie served the Corner Bakery Cafe for several years while on the agency side and was thrilled to join the fast-casual brand based in Dallas in 2017 bringing her years of experience and best practices. She leads all digital and social media marketing initiatives leveraging real-time actionable insights to drive sales through integrated marketing plans for mobile, loyalty, apps, email, and web.

Robert Abou Jaoude

Sales Executive | Betson Enterprises

Robert Abou Jaoude is a sales executive with over 20 years of experience in the electronics and unattended transactions industry. Leading the Goldfinger sales division at Betson, Robert is responsible for providing dependable and profitable solutions to our customer base that installs equipment in multiple industries such as Retail Kiosk, Amusement, Vending, Gaming, Hospitality, and ATM applications. Prior to working at Betson, Robert spent 17 years with an M&M Mars division called MARS Electronics Inc. that was the number one manufacturing company of payment system solutions in the world.

Carter Jensen

Retail Innovation | Latitude

Energized by the always-changing landscape of retail technology, Carter Jensen is driven to help client’s ‘see around corners’ and lead brands to innovative success. Starting with an early focus in experiential marketing, his drive for technology and innovation soon lead to breakout work for a variety of brands, including Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Target and Best Buy. Today, Carter leads the technology team at Latitude, specializing in the rapid development of products and strategies aimed at enhancing customer experiences for the world’s largest brands.

Jessie Kreke

Senior Marketing Manager | Culver Franchising System

Jessie Kreke is a Senior Marketing Manager for Culver Franchising System, LLC. (CFS), the franchisor for over 680 Culver’s Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers restaurants. Jessie joined Culver’s in 2011. Her areas of experience range from mobile apps, web site best practices, digital promotions, social media, and local restaurant marketing. Jessie is responsible for the seamless digital experience for Culver’s guests that matches the highly-lauded offline hospitality. Jessie’s formal education includes a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University and continuing education for web design and development with Madison College.

Douglas Kwong

Director of eCommerce & Digital Marketing | Pei Wei

Douglas Kwong is the Director of eCommerce and Digital Media at Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, where he oversees eCommerce, media, and the loyalty program. Since joining the company in October of 2017, he has nearly doubled eCommerce revenue, and launched Pei Wei’s direct delivery platform and grew awareness through marketplace inclusion by establishing partnerships with third party delivery service providers. He was previously at Cicis Pizza, and had launched various online customer platforms as part of the company’s re-brand. Prior to joining Cicis, Douglas devised and executed online initiatives to grow exposure and e-commerce revenue at global hospitality organizations Hilton Worldwide and Choice Hotels International.

Charles Larkin

Senior Director, GameStop Technology Institute | GameStop

Charlie Larkin serves as Senior Director of the GameStop Technology Institute (GTI). GTI is a business unit focused on creating affiliations with leading technology corporations and academic institutions to discover and deliver business innovation and technology solutions to better address the needs of today’s empowered consumer. In this role, Charlie is accountable for accelerating business growth through the application of emerging technologies that create next-generation customer experiences. Current research and development activities are focused on connected smart-store experiences and digital marketing within the retail space. Larkin has more than 15 years of retail technology experience and a knack for combining emerging technology, business strategy and innovation to solve big problems.

Rachel Layton

VP of Marketing + Growth | Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

Rachel Layton serves as the Vice President of Marketing + Growth for Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe. She is responsible for building sustainable strategies linked to innovations that drive the strategic growth for the company’s 80+ locations nationwide. Layton oversees the management of the Taziki’s brand, including digital marketing strategies, the local store marketing program, national off-premise initiatives, creative development and agency management, and franchise recruitment strategy. Layton is responsible for managing the marketing fund provided through a contribution from all stores, and for developing all members of the marketing department. Layton guides the vision of the Taziki’s marketing program.

Steve Leasure

Director of Franchise Operations | BurgerFi

Steve Leasure is a foodservice industry veteran with over 30 years of experience. In his current role as Director of Franchise Operations at BurgerFi International, Steve has the opportunity to work with a growing brand that is at the forefront of consumer trends and tastes. Steve has extensive experience in all facets of restaurant operations, having served in various roles across the QSR and Fast Casual segments. He started his career operating high volume restaurants in Manhattan and has worked with franchise owners throughout the United States and around the globe over the years. Steve currently resides in Orlando, Florida.

Desereé Lopez

Sr. Digital Marketing Manager | la Madeleine

Desereé Lopez spent the majority of her 13 year Digital career in Advertising agencies, yet food was never far from her mind. Desereé brought her loyalty and Digital ecosystem to Main Event Entertainment, a rapidly growing Foodertainment concept based in Dallas. Leading the Digital Marketing charge there, she worked to build a multi-currency reward program and pioneered online ordering and reservations for the brand. Currently at la Madeleine, she is a part of a results-oriented team working towards revamping the Digital Tech stack for la Madeleine and it’s sister brands. She also leads the Digital efforts through all touch points and their loyalty App.

Parminder Mann

VP, Digital Hospitality & Strategic Partnerships | Compass Group

Speaker bio coming soon!

Dave Markey

Associate Creative Director | Cedar Fair Entertainment

Dave Markey leads an in-house creative team for Cedar Fair amusement parks. The team entertains and informs guests across Cedar Fair’s 11 parks through digital signage, SMS, wifi, social media, and hotel TV platforms. Prior to Cedar Fair, Dave enjoyed a career as a freelance filmmaker, contributing to diverse projects for clients such as Marvel, Paramount, MTV, HBO, and P&G.

Elliot Maras

Editor | Kiosk Marketplace & Food Truck Operator

Elliot Maras is editor of Kiosk Marketplace and Food Truck Operator. He is a former board member of the International Foodservice Editorial Council, a recipient of the Office Refreshment Development Foundation’s Award For Journalism, and a graduate of the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s Executive Development Program at Michigan State University.

Daniel McCone

Senior Manager, Digital Innovation | Dunkin’ Brands

Before becoming Senior Manager of Digital Innovation for Dunkin’ Brands, Dan McCone spent 20 years in call centers in a variety of roles. He joined Dunkin’ Brands seven years ago and helped open up the call center that handles all mobile app, website and DDPerks promos. His team solves guest issues and has become the “voice of the customer.” Dan’s new role is to oversee the Dunkin’ app, website and all digital innovation which includes voice ordering and in-store technology for Dunkin’s next generation restaurants. Previously, he has worked for Nestle Waters North America, WellPoint and John Hancock Signature Services.

Krista McLay

Senior Marketing Manager | Nando’s Canada

Krista Mclay is the Senior Marketing Manager at Nando’s which is known for their flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken in over 24 countries around the world. During her 10-year Marketing career she has worked on innovative brands in varying stages of development and evolution. Her experience ranges from working with global brands, building insight driven communication strategies, generating traffic building initiatives, rebranding, project management from ideation to execution. Krista has received the Top 30 under 30 award for the OHI.

Tom Meiron

CEO | BurgerIM

With over 30 years of executive leadership experience in the fast casual and QSR segments, Tom brings vast knowledge and experience to BurgerIM. Stops in his career have included: Holiday Inn, Marriott Hotels, Pizza Hut, Big Boy Family Restaurants, and Papa John’s Pizza. His unique leadership qualities stem from executive positions held at large iconic brands, and as a large franchisee with Papa John’s Pizza (60 stores) and Holiday Inn Hotels. Educated in accounting and finance, including Cornell University, Tom provides forward thinking leadership, and continuous improvement for BurgerIM and it’s franchisees.

Monica Minford

Senior Director of Digital Marketing | HuHot Mongolian Grill

Monica Minford oversees digital marketing at HuHot Mongolian Grill, a 65-unit create-your-own stir fry franchise. Shortly after joining the HuHot marketing team in 2007, she saw the potential in social and digital marketing and molded her career in tandem with the growth of the industry. From the website to the loyalty program to social media to mobile, Monica is responsible for converting online interactions in to restaurant visits. These days Monica is focused on building HuHot Rewards to take advantage of its ability to drive incremental sales though targeted 1-to-1 messaging.

Doug Moss

Chief Technology Officer | ShiftPixy

Doug Moss serves as the Chief Technology Officer for ShiftPixy. Drawing on over 20 years of experience, Doug has used his expertise in various roles at companies such as Levy Restaurants, Pacific Life, The Los Angeles Galaxy and his own consulting firm, Evergreen Experience. At each stop along the way, Doug has always focused on, and been responsible for, delivering the very best customer experience to both internal and external customers. Doug’s extensive knowledge includes both web and mobile customer experience. It’s all lead to his role at ShiftPixy, where he oversees platform development and product teams as they work to deliver a world-class, customer-focused solution.

Judy Mottl

Editor | Retail Customer Experience

Retail Customer Experience Editor Judy Mottl is an award-winning experienced senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger who has worked for top media outlets, technology companies and publications including AOL, InformationWeek, CNET, Information Security Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, InternetNews and Tech Times as corporate marketing divisions within IBM and HP. She’s written everything from breaking news on business and technology to in-depth articles on tech trends to profiles on top business leaders.

Christine O’Brien

Design Leader, Design Innovation | Chick-fil-A

Christine O’Brien is a Design Leader in Design Innovation at Chick-fil-A. She joined the Chick-fil-A team in 2017 to create an innovative new restaurant experience for the future Chick-fil-A guest in the digital era. Christine has worked with market leaders in healthcare, restaurants/retail, and other consumer goods and services, leading global product and digital teams to increase consumer engagement and brand impact.

Matt Olsen

Director of Digital Guest Experience | Firehouse Subs

Matt Olsen oversees digital guest experience and digital strategy for Firehouse Subs, one of the nation’s top Fast Casual restaurant chains. He provides leadership for new connected technologies, email, web, app, and loyalty for 1,100+ Firehouse Subs locations across the US. Matt has been transforming Firehouse’s digital business for over 8 years.

Mark Palfreeman

CEO | Nixplay

Mark Palfreeman is the Founder and CEO of Nixplay Signage and Nixplay. Nixplay Signage is the easiest to buy, easiest to operate end-to-end software/hardware/cloud signage solution used by Fortune 500 companies as well as being used on hundreds of military bases globally. Nixplay is the number one selling consumer IoT Smart Photo Frame display and platform with over 1.5 million units sold globally to date. Nixplay is focused on a Private Family Photo experience with touch points being the Smart Photo Frame, Mobile App, and Photo Services. Nixplay primarily retails via e-commerce in North America and EU with operations in the US, UK, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines.

Ana Pelucarte

Co-Founder | Pop Up Mob

Speaker bio coming soon!

Matt Pierce

DFW Branch Manager | Accent Food Services

Matt Pierce is the Regional Manager at Accent Foods, a leader in the business to business refreshment services. Matt has been with the organization for 13 years and joined the Accent team of North Texas in August of 2018 to oversee operations. Matt’s focus is on leadership and using lean principles and data research to drive initiatives that allow Accent to focus on their people and customers. He is naturally curios and loves problem solving. He specializes in logistics and implementing new technologies in the marketplace to drive growth. Matt is a husband and a father of two young boys.

Adam Pierno

AVP Marketing Strategy | Arizona State University

Teacher. Mentor. Strategist. Innovator. Author. All are terms you could use to identify Adam Pierno. The highly caffeinated Adam has refined a simple methodology to build precise strategies for numerous client campaigns. As AVP of Marketing Strategy at Arizona State University’s Enterprise Marketing Hub, Adam leads affinity platforms, brand partnerships and media. He has written two books on marketing. His first book, “Under Think It” is used to teach strategy at universities, global agencies and Fortune 100 companies. His new book, “Specific” demonstrates a model that today’s brands can use to grow in an absence of viable mass media.

C.J. Ramirez

Marketing Director | Dog Haus

As Marketing Director at Dog Haus, C.J. Ramirez plays a vital role in driving brand innovation and marketing strategy. Since joining the team in 2013, he implemented marketing and branding campaigns that have directly impacted Dog Haus becoming one of the hottest emerging brands in the restaurant industry. As an industry veteran, C.J. brings extensive experience in creating branding strategies that build strong corporate identities that resonate with customers. Before joining the Dog Haus family, he led teams for prominent brands such as The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, The Walt Disney Company, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson and Mattel. He is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design.

Christie Rice

Director Business Development, Visual Solutions | Intel

Christie Rice is the segment director responsible for Intel’s digital signage and interactive kiosk business worldwide in the Internet of Things Group at Intel. In her role she works to ensure that Intel technology meets the ever changing digital signage needs. She also works closely with the ecosystem to promote solutions that provide the immersive and interactive experience that our customers demand. Before assuming her current role, Christie’s 20 years at Intel included various technical, product, business development, and marketing management positions across a broad range of products and segments including memory, PCs, storage, networking, and IOT.

Chris Roution

Director of Partnerships | T-Mobile

Chris Roution has nearly two decades of experience spanning, business development and strategic partnerships. As Director of Partnerships, Chris’ main focus these days is setting the partnership strategy, vision and execution for T-Mobile’s Customer Appreciation program, T-Mobile Tuesdays. Chris’ team manages a portfolio of brand partnerships across a broad range of industries, i.e., Entertainment, Gaming, Retail, Food & Beverage and e-Commerce.

Bob Sanders

EVP of Sales | Reflect

Bob Sanders serves as Executive Vice President of Sales for Reflect. In this role Bob is responsible for strategic business development and client relationship management. Bob’s background in executive management, process improvement and sales allows him to bring over 25 years of experience to Reflect’s leadership team. Prior to joining Reflect, Bob was most recently CEO for Axiom Sales Force Development, a leader in sales productivity improvement. As an integral part of Axiom’s leadership team for nine plus years, Bob helped their clients realize hundreds of millions in incremental revenue by implementing processes and methods for engaging customers, coaching sales people and managing the sales function.

Dennis Schleicher

Senior Manager, Customer Experience | Kohl’s

Dennis Schleicher is Senior Manager Customer Experience Design at Kohl’s where his team focuses on the experiences for buy online pickup in store, the Yes2You Loyalty program, and the private label Kohl’s credit card. His customer centered approach centers on understanding and designing inside of retail ecologies for families using his background in business and industrial anthropology. He has worked with Sears/Kmart both customer and associate facing experience, Ford.com and the My Ford Loyalty program, Chrysler, General Motors, Comcast, Dominos, and various non-profits.

Eric Schongalla

IT Applications Manager | Pet Supplies Plus

Eric Schongalla joined Pet Supplies Plus in June of 2017 as the IT Applications Manager. In this role, he is responsible for the various applications and systems that support the “neighbor experience,” including the PSP website, the current rollout of our “You Click We Fetch” BOPUS program, and the Point of Sale systems at our retail stores nationwide. Prior to joining PSP, Eric worked at Carhartt, where he helped re-launch the corporate website, implemented new chat and loyalty programs, and managed the in-store kiosk program. Additionally, Eric’s experience includes 19 years in various roles in the marketing services industry, at Dialog Direct, Budco, and K/P Corporation.

Briton Smetzer

VP of IT | Peinado Construction

Briton Smetzer was formerly the Vice President of IT Operations for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. His responsibilities included the management, strategy, and execution of IT infrastructure in alignment with organizational goals. Briton is both a big-picture thinker and a hands-on implementer with a background in network security, restaurant technology hardware & software, POS management, disaster recovery, support, database administration, and a seasoned developer in 5 scripting languages. Additionally, his background in restaurant management (and washing dishes) give him a unique and advantageous perspective on restaurant technology. Briton’s forward thinking and experience in entrepreneurship, management and technology gives him a unique and collection of skills and competencies.

Brandon Solano

Chief Marketing & Digital Officer | Pei Wei

Brandon Solano has built a reputation as one of the most creative and unconventional marketing leaders in the U.S. foodservice industry. Recruited in May 2017 to serve as Pei Wei’s Chief Marketing & Digital Officer, Brandon spearheaded a multi-media campaign tied to the groundbreaking debut of Wei Better Orange Chicken and Tiger – the brand’s sharp-tongued spokes-animal who has his own Twitter account – which has positioned the brand for significant growth. Prior to joining Pei Wei, Brandon served as Chief Marketing Officer at Wendy’s, where he and his team created the brand’s successful 4 for $4 deal.

Dan South

President | Walls+Forms

Flexibility and modularity have been Dan South’s manta for over 35 years, it started soon after Ohio University’s Graduate Program, in 1979. He started his journey as a Territory Sales Manager with McGill and proceeded to USG/ Masonite Corporation in 1983. Sensing the market was in need of a modular perimeter slat wall system, Dan co-founded Walls+Forms, Inc, in 1984, a Canadian and USA manufacturer. In 1994, he launched, the first POPUP and Seasonal Store Fixture Designs at the ICSC Temporary Tenant Conference in New Orleans. Now, in 2019, Dan along with designers, Dennis Torres and Jason Hernandez are introducing W+F’ s new PopUps Systems that meet the needs of the new market.

Jared Stabiner

Strategy Consultant | NEXT/NOW

Jared Stabiner is a Strategy Consultant at NEXT/NOW, helping implement digital interactive and immersive experiences like VR, AR, projection mapping, LED Walls and more across numerous physical environments like pop ups and retail. Jared most recently worked with startup Tactify, a company with a focus in the mobile technology world, specifically providing NFC, RFID and Augmented Reality products for experiential activations and events. In addition to solidifying a partnership with Shazam, he has worked with clients such as AMC Entertainment, Red Bull, New Balance, and Bud Light. Before that, Stabiner was at VL Group, a music technology and licensing company, connecting brands with music, artists and bands in the marketing space.

Tod Szewczyk

VP, Director Emerging Technology & Innovation | Leo Burnett

As VP, Director of Emerging Technology and Innovation at Leo Burnett, Tod Szewczyk helps bring new platforms, partners and ways of working into the agency. He provides insight and best practices to successfully integrate new technologies into marketing initiatives that create immersive and engaging brand experiences. Tod has led the agency’s development of the proprietary Leovative content platform, founded Arc’s Retail Innovation Lab and Leo Burnett’s new technology Lab along with producing FutureShop/Leovative expo events. In addition, he also leads the agencies’ strategic partnership with Google. Tod’s writing has been published on the Chicago Ideas website under the “Future Today” series, in the Chicago Tribune and through Leo Burnett’s Leo Scope program.

Dennis Torres

General Manager | Walls+Forms

Dennis Torres brings 20+ years’ experience and insight for display systems and solutions for temporary and permanent sets. His unique path and perspective are driven from the many years of experience he gained from the events and convention industry. His role as senior designer in his early years awarded him the opportunity to research and develop temporary display sets that could be installed and merchandised quickly and easily across North America and the Caribbean. After 10+ years in this industry, he teamed up with Walls+Forms, who was a leading innovator in pop-up display solutions to further develop their existing systems.

Thomas “Ty” Tyree

VP Loyalty Product | FIS

Ty Tyree has developed an expertise in loyalty and payments for over 15 years. Ty drove card loyalty for companies like JPMorgan Chase and Barclays and partnered with global brands like United Airlines, Lufthansa, Frontier, Sears and Amazon. However, Ty’s experience is not just limited to loyalty product and marketing. He once held elected office as president of his class in 2nd grade. An active alumnus at Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal MBA and Temple’s Beasley School of Law, Ty doesn’t do a good job of hiding his first love, entertainment, which he nurtured at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts.

Matt Unger

Chief Product Officer | Applestone Meat Company

Matt Unger is the Chief Product Officer of the Applestone Meat Company, a New York State-based purveyor of carefully-sourced meat and poultry with an emphasis on automated retail sales innovation. Matt has decades of experience building useful and usable digital products for B2B, mobile application development, media, and retail organizations. He has advised news publishers, startups, and B2B and B2C teams on audience research, software strategy, and content strategy.

Richard Ventura

Vice President of Strategic Management | NEC Display Solutions of America

Richard Ventura is the Vice President of Strategy for NEC Display Solutions of America’s, overseeing all strategy related activities for the organization. Focusing on leading the development and communications of strategies aimed at evolving the business and driving it forward, while working with the Executive Team to define the vision and direction for the company and establish strategic initiatives that disrupt current and future markets, explore alternative solutions, and result in short and long-term gains. Richard has spent 17+ years within the NEC sales and marketing organizations focusing on display solutions, display technologies, projectors and direct-view LED.

Keri Voke

Group Product Manager, In-Club Digital Experiences | Walmart eCommerce

Keri Voke is passionate about connecting the digital and physical world. As a senior manager of multichannel strategy for Walmart, Keri is responsible for creating customer facing experiences that add value for both our customers and associates every day. She is currently focused on the Sam’s Club member experience and using in-club technology to drive member engagement in multichannel. Previous to her current role, Keri worked on the mobile strategy team at Walmart, focusing on customer centric app features such as store maps, mobile checkin, and mobile payment.

2018 SPEAKERS

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