Bill Graham

Bill Graham

Graham Corporate Communications


BILL GRAHAM says there is nothing naturally likable about him … at all.  This is ironic, because his communication programs help professionals in every field to be their most comfortable … personable … and, okay … likable selves.  Storytelling and messaging are also core communication skills that attendees appreciate when working with Bill.  He spent over a decade as Director of Creative Affairs for Procter and Gamble Productions, training writers and giving the daily story notes for 7,000 hours of their soap operas: Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World.  Writers he developed won “Best Writing” Emmy Awards 5 of his last 7 years at P&G. 

Prior to working in television, he spent 12 years as the producing director of Olney Theatre, a professional Equity theatre outside of Washington, DC.  He serves on the faculty of the Council of State Government’s Leadership Training programs for state legislators.  Legislators from over half of the 50 States, Canada and Mexico receive annual training from Bill.  He is a faculty member of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Organization Management, and he has served on the faculties of New York University’s Tisch School for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management and Seton Hall University’s Leadership Communication program.


In the past few years, Bill has delivered face-to-face training to professionals in 40 states, plus Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, India, China, UAE, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Rick James

Rick James

Castle Retail Group, Memphis


Richard K. “Rick” James, owner of Castle Retail Group, LLC, a Memphis, Tennessee-based company which includes 4 area supermarkets, 3 under the Cash Saver name and one High Point Grocery with 300 associates.


Rick was born in Cabool, Missouri on August 23, 1956. His father was a shoe manufacturing plant manager and mother was a homemaker and part-time supermarket employee. He moved frequently to his father’s new assignments, including towns in Missouri, Illinois, Canada and eventually Kentucky where he graduated High School at age 16. He returned to Missouri for two years of college at Evangel College in Springfield, MO, and completed his college education in 1976 at Morehead State University with a degree in Accounting and Management.


Rick entered the Kroger Company training program in Lexington, KY in 1977 and was promoted to store manager in 1978. At age 22, he was the youngest store manager in the company at that time. He came to Memphis in 1987 as a retail consultant with Malone & Hyde, later adding the duties of Assistant Advertising Director. In 1990, with the merger of two major Malone & Hyde customers, Baker Brothers and Sewell-Allen, he returned to retail as Director of Marketing for the newly merged company’s Piggly Wiggly stores.


In 1992, he was named President and in 2001, and became a partner along with Lex Sewell and Dan Allen. In 2000, at the peak of the company’s growth, they had 15 stores, over 1,200 employees and $160 Million in retail sales. With the passing of Lex Sewell and the retirement of Dan Allen, Rick purchased four former Sewell-Allen store locations in 2004.  Rick, and his wife, Cathy currently own three Cash Saver stores, one neighborhood store called High Point Grocery, all within the city limits of Memphis, TN.


Among his numerous accomplishments and activities, Rick was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Morehead State College of Business in 1998, was awarded the Spirit of America Award from the National Grcoers Associations in 1999, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Mid-South Food Bank, and serves on the Board of The Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association (Chairman 2019-2021).


Rick is married to the former Cathy A. Hamilton in 1987 and have five children - Sarah (39), Erick (36), Taylor (29), Adelyn (26), and Lauren (23).  Taylor, Lauren and Addie are all active in the family grocery business.


Tim Lowe

Lowes Foods

Tim has over 29 years of broad retail experience and currently serves as President of Lowes Foods, LLC.  Tim previously served as Executive Vice-President, Merchandising for Supervalu. Tim also held the position of Senior Vice-President of Operations, Senior Vice-President of Merchandising as well as President of Shoppers Food. Prior to SuperValu Tim's broad career also included time in General Merchandise including positions with companies such as Wal-Mart and Meijer. He is a graduate of the University of Houston where he graduated with a B.S. in Pharmacy.


Tim and his wife Karla reside in Winston-Salem, NC. They have four children, three of which are married.


Kevin Paul Scott



Kevin Paul Scott has traveled to six continents and spoken to leaders from more than 100 countries.  Kevin co-founded the leadership consultancy ADDO, which is Latin for "Inspire."  For the last two years, ADDO was #1 on the Best Places to Work list in Atlanta.  ADDO developed the national Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program, the Baltimore Ravens Leadership Institute, and helps companies attract and develop top talent.

Kevin is the author of three books, including his latest  The Lens. Kevin is a frequent guest on numerous media outlets, including Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.



Patrick Spear

Patrick Spear

Global Market Development Center/Retail Tomorrow


PATRICK SPEAR is the President/CEO of GMDC|Retail Tomorrow, a Colorado Springs-based non-profit trade association.  GMDC|Retail Tomorrow connects people and companies to opportunities for growth in the retail and CPG industries.  Patrick has been active in the CPG and association industry for over 30 years. 

Beginning his career with Bic Corporation, Patrick delivered consistent results, gained valuable insights and experienced steady career advancement during his tenure with Bic, Newell Rubbermaid, Mapa Spontex, Identity Group, and as the Founding Partner/Managing Director of Mammoth Office Products. 


His career experience spans the continuum, from Retail Sales Representative (Bic) to CEO/Managing Director (Identity Group, Mammoth, and GMDC|Retail Tomorrow) in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  Patrick has significant experience with private equity and venture capital, having served as CEO in a private equity setting and as an advisor to two Nashville-based venture funds prior to joining GMDC|Retail Tomorrow as President in November 2014.  He assumed CEO responsibilities for the organization in June 2015.


Patrick serves as a board member for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, and is the board chair for BrainSavers, an organization focused on cognitive health and wellness.  He holds BA degrees in Economics and Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MBA degree from the University of San Diego, and is a graduate of the Colorado Outward Bound School.  Patrick is also an Eagle Scout, and mentored over 90 Eagle Scout candidates as the Life-to-Eagle coordinator for Troop 31 in Nashville, TN.


He and his wife Lisa have three grown children, and reside in Nashville, TN.



Dave Davis

President and Chief Legal Officer

Utah Food Industry Association

Utah Retail Merchants Association

Dave Davis is the President and Chief Legal Officer of the Utah Food Industry Association and the Utah Retail Merchants Association.  Dave joined the Associations in 2007 as their Vice President and General Counsel and was elected by the respective Board of Directors to serve as President in March of 2010.  Immediately before joining the associations Dave spent nearly a decade as the Director of Human Resources and Legal Counsel for Associated Food Stores based in Salt Lake City. 

Dave graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Political Science in 1994 and from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark School of Law in 1997.

Dave and his wife Kerri reside in Draper, Utah and have three daughters and two son-in-laws.

Michael Durant

Michael Durant

Food Industry Alliance of New York State

Michael was named President and Chief Executive Officer for the Food Industry Alliance in April 2018. While leading the organization to maintain and grow as the premier voice for the grocery industry, Michael coordinates our public policy, communications and trade relations efforts. 

Prior to joining FIA, Michael was an advocate for New York’s small businesses as State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business for nearly 8 years. He also served in a variety of roles on former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s staff and has worked in the state legislature. 

Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in 2000 and resides in Malta with his wife and two children.


Michelle Hurd

Iowa Grocery Industry Association

Michelle Hurd is the president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association. Michelle has been with the association since March of 2006. Prior to being named the association’s president in 2012 she served in the role as vice president of marketing and membership for six years.

Michelle has a Bachelor's of Science degree in marketing from Upper Iowa University and 22 years of experience in association management. In 2011, she earned a Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation.

Michelle lives in Ankeny with her husband Matt and her two children, Kale, 15, and Reagan, 13.


Rob Ikard

Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association

Rob Ikard is president of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association.  With a diverse background in business advocacy, association management and government relations, he has served as Tennessee state director for the National Federation of Independent Business and in the administrations of Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Governor Don Sundquist.  A native of Nashville, Rob is married and has three children.


Kathy Kuzava

Georgia Food Industry Association

Kathy Kuzava has been president of the Georgia Food Industry Association since 1989. She began her grocery career as a cashier at 17 and has never left the grocery industry.  She held several positions in retail and wholesale before beginning her career in association management. In her role as president of the GFIA, Kuzava has been passionate about representing the grocery industry at both the state capitol and before regulatory agencies. Over the years, Kuzava has been honored with several awards on the state and national level, recognizing her work on a variety of issues including food safety, reforming Georgia’s WIC program, and the passage of Sunday alcohol sales. Kuzava is thankful that the grocery industry not only financed her education, but also gave her the opportunity to meet her husband, Al. The couple have two adult children and two adorable grandsons.