Retail Connect

Retail Connect 2020

Leadership Lessons to Navigate Retail in Transformative Times

Virtual Event
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
5:15 PM–6:00 PM Networking spaces open | 6:00–7:30 PM Program

Retail Connect features industry experts and thought leaders addressing challenges and innovations shaping the retail landscape. This year leaders will address the retail challenges of 2020 from COVID-19 to the movement for economic and social equality.

Registration for the Virtual Event

Although our event is free and virtual, thanks to our sponsors, advanced registration is requested.

Register Now

Featured Speakers and Panelists:

Allison Peterson
Allison PetersonKeynote Speaker

Chief Customer Officer, Best Buy

Allison Peterson is the chief customer officer for Best Buy Co. Inc. She is responsible for the company’s customer strategy, including the development of innovative business initiatives, value propositions, and experiences that create meaningful differentiation and brand love. Since joining Best Buy in 2004, Peterson has held various leadership roles within marketing and e-commerce, including vice president of category marketing and vice president of brand strategy. Peterson earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University. She serves on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.

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Mark Irvin
Mark Irvin—Panelist

Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, Best Buy

Mark Irvin is the chief inclusion and diversity officer for Best Buy Co. Inc. He is responsible for the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and the programs intended to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive work environment for its 125,000 employees. Most recently, Irvin served as Best Buy’s senior vice president of supply chain, overseeing all of the company’s distribution centers. Prior to joining Best Buy in 2013, Irvin held a variety of supply chain leadership roles at Target for 11 years, both in the field and at the corporate headquarters. He has also held leadership roles at Cummins Inc., Corporate Express Delivery Systems, and Baxter Healthcare. Irvin has a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University in Nashville and an MBA from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

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Greg Cunningham
Greg Cunningham—Panelist

Chief Diversity Officer, Senior Executive Vice President, US Bank

Greg Cunningham is senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer for U.S. Bank. He joined the bank in 2015 as vice president of customer engagement. His diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise has been showcased in national and regional media outlets, including Fortune, Bloomberg, American Banker, and the Star Tribune. Cunningham serves on the National Board of Directors for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s largest and most effective minority higher education organization. He has a BA in marketing from UNCF member school Clark-Atlanta University and an MBA from Fordham University.

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Alissa Montbriand
Alissa Montbriand—Panelist

CEO/Proprietor, Pacifier

Alissa Montbriand is the owner of Pacifier, an upscale baby + kids retailer based in the Twin Cities. Montbriand purchased the business in 2018 with the intent of growing the brand beyond Minnesota, and has since revamped the website and digital marketing strategy as well as rolled out a new store format. Prior to owning her own business, Montbriand built a portfolio of experience in finance, strategy, and marketing at leading companies, including Best Buy, Staples, Bloomin’ Brands, and Radisson. Her passion for education led her to teach Marketing Strategy as an adjunct at the Carlson School of Management. She is also proud to partner with NAZ (Northside Achievement Zone), which works to reduce the educational opportunity gap for students in North Minneapolis. Montbriand has a BSB in finance, marketing, and entrepreneurial studies and an MBA in finance and strategy from the University of Minnesota.

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Virajita Singh
Virajita Singh—Moderator

Associate Vice Provost, Office of Equity & Diversity, Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Faculty, College of Design, University of Minnesota

Virajita Singh is a designer, educator, researcher, university administrator, and an artist. At the University of Minnesota, Singh’s teaching includes architecture design studios, design thinking classes, and courses related to design and sustainability. Singh founded and leads the Design for Community Resilience (DCR) program at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research, which serves Minnesota communities, particularly in rural Minnesota. She also serves as associate vice provost in the Office for Equity and Diversity.

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  • 5:15 PM: Pre-event networking spaces open
  • 6:00 PM: Welcome and opening remarks
  • 6:05 PM: Keynote
  • 6:25 PM: Panel discussion
  • 7:00 PM: Q&A with panelists
  • 7:15 PM: Awards and recognition, closing remarks
  • 7:30 PM: Program ends

Sponsorship and Support

This event is not possible without the support of dedicated volunteers and industry partners. Gifts of sponsorship and individual support allow the University to host this high-quality event that showcases new ideas, builds industry connections, and fosters diffusion of innovation. Additionally, $5000 and $2500 level support allows us to present scholarships and awards and, this year, 50% of funds raised from sponsorship and individual support will go to the College of Design's Scholarship Fund that advances Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Retail Education.

Contact Peggy Lord, review the Retail Connect sponsorship letter for more information, and/or make a gift online.

Retail Connect is presented annually by the University of Minnesota Retail Merchandising Program and Advisory Board, Center for Retail Design and Innovation (CRDI), and College of Design Alumni Relations Office, with support from the College of Design Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel and our 2020 program sponsors.

Retail Connect 2020 sponsors: CRDI Sponsor: Kohl's, Platinum Sponsor: Target, Gold Sponsors: 3M, The CPG group, and deluxe

Past Retail Connect Events

Visit the Retail Connect event archive to watch videos of previous Retail Connect events.

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Retail Connect

Lori Mollberg
Director of Alumni Relations