James Connell

Roots Canada | VP, Ecommerce & Customer Experience

As the Vice President, E-Commerce and Customer Experience, James is responsible for leading the digital commerce efforts at Roots with a focus on branded experience, non-traditional retail and the blend of digital marketing and commerce. Additionally, he is responsible for the company’s customer support area and integrated omni-channel commerce programs. James has also spoken to audiences, press and industry journals on three continents on the topics of marketing, social media and online retail and co-authored a book published by Aspatore Books and is an active member of the Retail Council of Canada, Adweek Brand Digital Commerce Advisory Board and the eTail Canada Advisory Board.

Cheryl Kaplan

M.Gemi | President

A retail veteran, with over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, Cheryl Kaplan began her career in the buying department at Filene’s and Levi’s. There, she honed her skills in merchandising, assortment planning, analysis. In 1999, Cheryl joined Red Rocket as Merchandise Manager. The following year she was introduced to Ben Fischman at Smart Bargains where she initially joined as a Buyer and eventually became the VP of Customer Experience. It was in 2007, Cheryl took on the role of EVP and Chief Member Advocate of Rue La La. Following the sale of Rue La La, Cheryl once again joined Ben Fischman to launch M.Gemi, a brand reinventing the luxury market by bringing the highest quality, hand-crafted, Italian made footwear directly to consumers at uncommon prices. As President of M.Gemi, Cheryl oversees creative and brand management, technology, client experience, merchandising, planning and programming.

Karen Kaplan

Hill Holliday | Chairman & CEO

Karen Kaplan joined Hill Holliday as a receptionist, hoping to save enough money for law school. Three decades later, she’s had just about every job there is to have at an agency, gaining valuable insight into how to approach each business challenge with a fresh perspective.
A key player in Hill Holliday’s significant growth as a national powerhouse, Karen is now Chairman & CEO overseeing the network of three agency brands: Hill Holliday, Erwin Penland, and Trilia Media. With an executive team composed of over half women, Karen is also one of the few female agency chairmen in the country.
Honored by both Business Insider and Ad Age as one of the most influential women in advertising, she’s helped the agency develop a proven ability to help brands fight a daily share battle in the noisiest categories. The proof lies in the successes of such key clients as Bank of America, Dunkin’ Donuts, Johnson & Johnson, and John Hancock.

Allison Khurana

New Balance | Head of Direct to Consumer Marketing

Allison Khurana leads Direct to Consumer Marketing in North America for New Balance, across brick-and-mortar and digital. Allison’s team’s work is anchored in a single view of our consumer, and spans digital marketing, full-funnel media planning & execution (including paid, owned, and earned), CRM and loyalty, and digital creative & design. Prior to joining New Balance, Allison was a senior leader of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where her team focused on creating personalized consumer experiences at scale. Allison began her career in management consulting at the Boston Consulting Group and received her MBA from Harvard Business School.

Sarah Martinez

Oath | VP, Industry Lead, Retail

Sarah Martinez is a seasoned advertising and media professional with over ten years of experience driving digital marketing success for Fortune 500 brands. At Oath, Sarah is VP of Retail and QSR industries, leading in sales management, sales strategy, and partnerships. Her passion projects at Oath include mobile innovation, personalized and innovative ad formats, and a focus on learning and development across her team. Sarah most recently held a leadership role as Category Sales Director for Retail, QSR, and Travel at Oath. Sarah graduated from Rutgers University, holds a Masters Degree in Advertising from Syracuse University, and resides in New York, New York with her family.

Haley Nadas

Wayfair | Head of Brand Development

Haley Nadas leads Brand Development for Wayfair, one of the world’s largest online destinations for the home. Currently overseeing the company’s entire portfolio of brands, including Wayfair, AllModern, Joss & Main, Birch Lane and Perigold, Haley joined Wayfair in 2014 and has held several roles within the company. Most recently, she led Promotions, where she spearheaded the launch of Way Day, the first-ever retail holiday for home. She also held roles in Merchandising as well as Marketing, where she built direct mail and print catalog advertising channels from the ground-up. Prior to Wayfair, Haley served as a growth strategy Consultant at Oliver Wyman and began her career in investment consulting at Cambridge Associates. She holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a B.A. in International Studies from Middlebury College.

Sam Thompson

Progress Partners | Senior Managing Director

Sam is a Senior Managing Director, providing guidance to growth stage companies in Media, Marketing, and Enterprise software and technology. He is also an investor and advisor to early-stage technology companies as a Founding Partner at Progress Ventures, an early-stage venture fund that invests in media and marketing technology companies.
Sam works with companies to develop strategic partnerships, and organize and act upon merger and acquisition strategies. Areas of particular focus include enterprise software and the convergence of marketing and retail technology, where Sam has built a strong strategic network for both early and growth stage business alike. Before banking and investing in software and technology, Sam was an entrepreneurial manager with a twelve-year history in media sales, business development and leadership.
Prior to joining Progress Partners, Sam held interim positions in management of design at Pod Consulting and The Procter & Gamble Company, finance and sales at the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, and client relations at IGN Entertainment, Inc., and Snowball.com. Sam began his career in commercial photography after graduating with a BA in Fine Arts from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, and then earned his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, Magna Cum Laude.

Karthik Vish

Macy’s | Vice President of Marketing

Senior Digital Retail commerce executive with a 14 year track record of helping the world’s largest brands set their Acquisition, Loyalty, Retention and Growth strategy for the evolution to an Omni-channel retail business model. A demonstrated track record of consistently exceeding aggressive goals for consumer-driven businesses, that have delivered rapid growth while improving customer experience and increasing profitability through strategic leadership and innovation. With a passion for large and challenging transformation efforts, I help Fortune 500 companies scale their organization’s people, processes, systems and product capabilities. Currently heading up Macy’s Search media (Paid, Organic and Content Syndication) to deliver topline growth aligned with maximizing marketing investments and advancing Macy’s omni-channel strategies. Experience includes algorithmic search bidding, spend optimization (device/ad-type/publishers/offline-online) and revenue management.