Recipients of the 2024 NRF PROTECT Awards Announced

The National Retail Federation has announced the recipients of the 2024 NRF PROTECT Awards, the highest asset protection and cybersecurity recognitions in the retail industry. Five veteran loss prevention professionals will be honored on June 5 during the annual NRF PROTECT conference in Long Beach, California.

The Ring of Excellence Award honors distinguished professionals who have impacted the loss prevention industry throughout their careers. The 2024 recipients are:

  • Gary Johnson, a leader in loss prevention for more than 40 years. Johnson retired as director of asset protection and safety for Guitar Center Inc., overseeing 600 stores nationwide, and has held leadership positions with The Vitamin Shoppe, A&P Supermarkets, Barnes & Noble, and Osco Drug Stores. He served two terms as chair of the NRF Loss Prevention Advisory Council and was a founding member of the Loss Prevention Research Council.
  • Mike Lamb, LPC, an industry expert with more than four decades of experience in asset protection, loss prevention, and safety. Lamb retired from his role as vice president of asset protection and safety with the Kroger Company in February 2024 and previously served in leadership roles with Walmart US and The Home Depot. Lamb remains active in the LP industry, serving as a member of the Executive Committee for the LP Foundation, senior advisor for Innovate LPRC and board member of Good2Go, as well as other key affiliations.
  • Walter Palmer, an industry expert in loss prevention and a leader throughout his career as a practitioner, consultant, and industry partner. Palmer continues to provide strategic guidance and insights to many of the world’s leading retail brands. He is one of the co-founders of LP Magazine, has served the industry across many boards and associations, and has been involved with NRF’s loss prevention conference for more than 30 years.
  • John Velke, a practitioner who began his retail loss prevention career in 1977 at Lord & Taylor. Velke’s career includes roles with Fred Meyer, Parisian, Proffitt’s, and McRae’s stores, before retiring in 2022 from Total Wine & More. For more than 40 years he has advocated for the LP industry, serving on the Illinois Attorney General’s task force on computer crime, as a governor-appointed board member to Oregon’s Police Academy, and a member of the NRF Loss Prevention Council.

“The Ring of Excellence Award honors exemplary leaders in asset protection and loss prevention,” said NRF Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operations David Johnston. “As leaders within their profession, this year’s recipients have had a profound impact on the retail industry, dedicating their professional careers to safeguarding their colleagues, customers, and retail stores across the country.”

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The NRF Retail Cybersecurity Leadership Award recognizes an individual’s cumulative contributions to advancing the state of cybersecurity within the retail industry. The 2024 recipient is:

  • Rich Agostino, senior vice president and chief information security officer (CISO) at Target. Agostino has long been a champion for career development programs both at Target and in the broader security community. He serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the Retail & Hospitality ISAC (RH-ISAC) and is a member of the PCI Security Standards Council Board of Advisors and Google’s CISO Advisory Board.

“Rich Agostino has been a leader in the retail cybersecurity community, working to strengthen information sharing and collaboration on cybersecurity and fraud threats,” said Christian Beckner, NRF vice president of retail technology and cybersecurity and executive director for the Center for Digital Risk and Innovation. “He has been instrumental in raising consumer awareness about cybersecurity risks and inspiring the next generation of cyber professionals. We are honored to recognize his contributions across the sector.”

NRF will present these awards with retail security executives from across the country at NRF PROTECT, June 4-6 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California.

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