Retail and Washington, DC, veteran Sandy Kennedy recently announced her plans to retire at the end of 2019 after 17 years as president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
Kennedy, 61, remade the niche trade association, known as the International Mass Retail Association, into RILA in 2004, transforming it into an agile and effective force that serves America’s leading retailers and has scored big wins in Washington for the industry on swipe fees, tax reform, sales tax fairness, and other major public policy initiatives. In 2009 RILA formed the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), the only organization dedicated to advocating for the industry’s top priorities in the federal and state judiciary.
Under her leadership RILA has grown its membership, revenue, influence, and stature in the industry and in Washington. Building upon this growth, in June Kennedy moved RILA’s headquarters to new offices near Capitol Hill to improve RILA’s proximity to the Hill and further enhance the association’s profile and ability to showcase its members to lawmakers.
Kennedy will stay on board through the end of 2019 to ensure a successful transition to a new leadership team that will be well positioned to tackle industry challenges in 2020 and beyond.
“Retail has always been a dynamic industry, and the changes happening throughout the retail ecosystem today will create new challenges for the next generation of industry advocates to solve,” Kennedy said. “RILA is fortunate to have a committed Board of Directors comprised of the leading CEOs in retail, and I’m confident that with their leadership and the team we’ve assembled, RILA will continue to tackle the industry’s top priorities in the years ahead.”
Immediately prior to joining RILA, Kennedy served as director of the Leadership Dialogue Series for Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company. The program targeted C-suite executives in the retail and consumer goods and service industries.
“The retail industry experienced several cycles of profound change in the 17 years Sandy’s led this organization,” said Target CEO and RILA Board Chairman Brian Cornell. “And through it all, she’s been a strong advocate for the kind of public policy that ensures a level playing field for our member companies and helps us better serve the millions of American families who shop our stores. On behalf of our members, we thank Sandy for her many contributions to the retail industry and wish her all the best in her retirement.”
On January 1, 2020, RILA COO Brian Dodge will succeed Kennedy as president. As chief operating officer, Dodge guides the development and execution of the association’s public affairs strategy, working closely with Kennedy to identify industry challenges and opportunities while building consensus among member companies on strategic initiatives. Prior to joining RILA in 2007, Dodge served in a number of policy roles inside and outside of government, including serving as a staff member for Congressman Jack Quinn and Governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.
“Brian will hit the ground running as RILA’s next president,” said ULTA Beauty CEO and RILA Vice Chair Mary Dillon. “His background in public policy and industry knowledge make him the right choice to lead this important organization. Sandy has accomplished so much as president of RILA, and I look forward to working with Brian and the team to build on her success.”
Kennedy said she was confident RILA would continue to be an organization dedicated to the top public policy priorities and operational challenges of leading retailers. “I am proud to have spent my career in a diverse and talented industry filled with unlimited potential and opportunity for all,” Kennedy said. “I know the industry will be ready to tackle whatever challenges lay ahead with Brian and a talented team focused on the top priorities of leading retailers.”