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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The Influencers 2016

The Influencers 2016

Floating Widget

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The Influencers are champions of retail, bridging the gap between the industry and the rest of the world. Whether they’re journalists, activists, innovators or business leaders, these nominees don’t work in retail — but they’re helping it evolve. They’re passionate, persistent and intelligent, and their work is paving the way for innovative retailers everywhere.

Meet The Influencers 2016:

Walter Loeb

Walter Loeb

Loeb Associates Inc.

When it comes to providing an experienced eye, no one comes close to Walter Loeb. Now in his 90s, Loeb began his retail career after graduating college in 1949, working for giants such as R.H. Macy & Company, the May Department Stores Company and the Allied Stores Corporation. Analysis and consulting came next, and today, his sharp perception and pointed critiques of the retail landscape are delivered through a weekly Forbes blog. Loeb’s acumen has become a must-read for those who want to stay on top of the strategies and trends affecting the business of retail. 

But life experience also is at play; the son of a wholesaler, Loeb was born in Germany, fled the Nazis and lived in Italy, Cuba and the United States before being drafted into the Army and landing in Normandy on D-Day. In business and elsewhere, Walter remains full of fight.

“Be creative. Work hard at all hours. Try to be a leader with innovative ideas.”
Walter Loeb
Courtney Reagan

Courtney Reagan

Retail Reporter

Even in today’s crowded media landscape, Courtney Reagan’s voice stands out. As the retail reporter for cable business news channel CNBC, Reagan finds her place among the movers and shakers of the industry, keeping viewers up to date with insight, experience and authority.

Reagan began her media career as a page at NBC before being offered a job at CNBC. But her love of news stretches back as far as she can remember — including the Friday nights she’d spend babysitting, when she’d flip the channel to a TV newsmagazine.  

Reagan backs up her segments with a well-rounded education, she earned an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business with specialization in economics, luxury marketing and entertainment/media/technology. 

“Talking with the right people can help put me in the right direction to see what’s most relevant to Wall Street and, on the flip side, to see what the mainstream consumer is doing and any lessons that Wall Street might learn from their actions."
Courtney Reagan
Al Sambar

Al Sambar

Managing Partner
Kurt Salmon North American Retail and Consumer Group

From his days as a naval aviator to his role at global management consulting firm Kurt Salmon, Al Sambar has set his sights on going above and beyond. Passionate about retail’s ongoing transformation, Sambar has helped retailers stay on the forefront of innovation and reinvention.

Sambar developed Kurt Salmon’s HD Merchandising concept, which brings powerful data mining and visualization tools to the merchandising and planning process. He also helped lead one of retail’s most recent revolutions by partnering with Tyco and Mobispoke to create 1:1 Retailing Lab, which melds mobile commerce and the physical store. 

A love of working with people brought him into the industry, Sambar says, but its fast pace of change is what has kept him intellectually excited and seeking new heights.

“My father told me, ‘Shoot for what you think is unachievable, then surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than yourself.”
Al Sambar
Dana Telsey

Dana Telsey

CEO and Chief Research Officer
Telsey Advisory Group (TAG)

Dana Telsey gained retail industry credibility while moving up the ladder at Baron Capital Group Inc., C.J. Lawrence and Bear Stearns, but her initial understanding of the industry came from her family’s experience on the front lines: Telsey’s grandmother and mother both worked for some of the largest names in retail, and Telsey worked in her family’s bookstore as a teen. 

Telsey Advisory Group (TAG), founded by Telsey in 2006, covers more than 100 U.S. and international companies of all sizes in a variety of sectors and has grown to be a leading equity research, trade execution, investment banking and consulting firm, focusing on the consumer space. In 2015, Telsey formed Telsey Consumer Fund Management LP, which manages fund investing in consumer-based companies.

Under Telsey’s direction, TAG’s research and insight — and its semiannual consumer conferences — have become drivers in growing retail knowledge. In 2014, TAG was named the 2014 Woman-Owned Brokerage of the Year by Traders magazine, and Telsey earned Traders’ 2011 award as Entrepreneur of the Year.

“Go slow to go fast… and never accept no.”
Dana Telsey
Sen. Mark Warner

The Honorable Mark Warner

U.S. Senator

While most of his colleagues look at policy issues through the lens of a politician, Sen. Mark Warner uses his background in business and technology to give him a “think outside the box” approach that often sets him apart. 

As a businessman following graduation from Harvard Law, Warner kept looking for the next opportunity.  After founding two small businesses that failed, he soon landed on the cellular telephone industry, co- founding the company that became Nextel. His business success has allowed him to invest in hundreds of start-up tech companies, further creating job opportunities.

He put his own business expertise to work while governor of Virginia from 2002-06, where he established business principles later credited with turning a $6 billion shortfall into a $1 billion surplus.  At the completion of his term, Virginia was recognized as the best-managed state and the best state for business.

As senator, Warner has often carved his own path.  While the Senate worked its way through complex debate over cybersecurity, Senator Warner broke the mold by fashioning an approach to data security that treats all industry sectors the same. He is a leader on issues surrounding the rise of the “on-demand” economy, pondering what the modern social contract should look like in a way that continues to promote innovation and to preserve the flexibility of the “gig” economy. 

“Going for it, and being willing to fail, but then picking yourself up and getting right back in the game — that’s what is so great about America.”
The Honorable Mark Warner
The List Quiz

Are you a power player, disruptor, dreamer, influencer or giver? Find your retail superstar personality with this interactive quiz.