Sessions are located at the Grand Hyatt Washington D.C. 

The schedule is subject to change


1:00 PM  Conference Registration Open 
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM  NGA Executive Committee Meeting (Committee Members Only) 
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM  NGA Board of Directors Reception & Dinner (Board Members & Invited Guests Only) 



7:30 AM - 6:45 PM  Conference Registration Open
7:30 AM - 8:30 AM NGA Board of Directors Breakfast (Board Members & Invited Guests Only) 
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM NGA Board of Directors Meeting (Board Members Only) 
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  Welcome Luncheon & Opening Remarks

Ted Balistreri, Owner, Sendik's Food Markets & Chairman of NGA Board of Directors
Greg Ferrara, President & Chief Executive Officer, National Grocers Association
1:00 PM - 1:45 PM  State of the Independent Grocer
Where does the independent grocery industry stand amid the current economic, regulatory and customer-first landscape?  Gain a deeper understanding of the industry's market share, trends and competitive dynamics. Explore how independent operators can further leverage and expand their unique value proposition within the dynamic marketplace, including personalized customer experiences, local sourcing and community engagement. Understand how independent grocers differentiate themselves from larger retail chains and adapt to evolving consumer preferences and expectations.

MODERATOR: Scott Moses, Partner and Head of Grocery, Pharmacy & Restaurants, Solomon Partners

Randy Arceneaux, President and Chief Executive Officer, Affiliated Foods Inc. 
Enid Barillas, Chief Executive Officer, AM Inc (Econo Healthy Path Markets)
Steve Henig, Chief Customer Officer, Wakefern Food Corp.
Richie Morgan, Executive Director of the Board, North State Grocery, Inc.

1:45 PM - 2:15 PM  Networking Break 
2:15 PM - 3:00 PM  The Future of Marketing
How effectively are you engaging your customers? Do they understand your brand and your value proposition? In this session, we will delve into the leading strategies, trends and platforms that are shaping the future of how grocers connect with customers and drive growth. From the rise of conscious consumerism and sustainability concerns to the demand for convenience and personalized experiences, we will explore artificial intelligence and machine learning, data analytics and automation, and how they are enabling hyper-personalization, predictive analytics and targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with individual shoppers.
MODERATOR: Eric Anderson, Principal, A-R Marketing

Nick Carlino, Executive Vice President of Sales & Merchandising, Merchants Distributors, Inc.
Dennis Host, Vice President, Marketing, Coborn's Inc.
Jenna Sowers, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Retail Group 

3:00 PM - 3:45 PM  The Future of Retail Policy
As federal, state and local governments enact new regulations and policies that directly influence the food retail sector, it is essential to stay informed and actively engage in shaping public policy. This session explores the evolving landscape of public policy and its implications for the grocery industry, including key regulatory areas such as food safety, labeling requirements, sustainability standards, worker protection and more. Understand how changes in public policy can influence business operations, supply chain management and consumer expectations.  Leave with an understanding of the potential benefits and challenges associated with these policy changes and how they can be navigated effectively.
Chris Jones, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Counsel, National Grocers Association 
3:45 PM - 4:30 PM  The Future of Technology
As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, understanding its potential and staying ahead of the curve is crucial for enhancing operational efficiency and delivering exceptional customer experiences. Explore the rise of automation, robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, mobile technologies and more to stay one step ahead.
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM  Networking Reception
Connect with like-minded professionals, industry experts and potential partners in a relaxed and social setting. Catch up with old friends, expand your professional network, exchange ideas and gain valuable insights from a diverse group of attendees representing various sectors of the industry.




6:30 AM - 6:00 PM Conference Registration Open
7:15 AM - 8:00 AM Networking Breakfast 
8:00 AM - 8:45 AM  The Future of Talent
It is essential for independents to adopt innovative strategies for attracting, developing and retaining top talent in order to thrive in the evolving competitive landscape. Gain insights into the changing dynamics of the workforce and the expectations and preferences of employees, including the rising importance of work-life balance, career growth opportunities, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and employee wellness programs. Discover best practices for attracting diverse talent and fostering a culture of inclusivity and strategies for developing, managing, retaining and nurturing talent through continuous learning and development programs that enable employees to acquire new skills.
Joe Bivona, Executive Director, Academy of Food & Marketing & Food Marketing Educational Foundation, Saint Joseph's University 
Misty Chally, Executive Director, Critical Labor Coalition 
Gerry Kettler, Director of Consumer Affairs, Niemann Foods, Inc
Additional Speakers to be Announced 
8:45 AM - 9:15 AM The Future of Center Store
Independents need to continue reimagining this crucial profit-driving retail space. Gain insights into changing consumer demands, including healthier options, sustainability and convenience, and understand how these trends impact the center store’s future. Hear how some of the leading CPGs are helping independents reshape the center store through category management, assortment optimization and promotions. Come away from this session with actionable insights for capitalizing on the largest section of your stores.
MODERATOR: Jeff Strack, President and CEO, Strack & Van Til PANELISTS: 
Stacy Cobb, Head of Strategic Planning and Industry, The Kraft Heinz Company
Bob Richardson, Director of Trade and Industry Relations, The Clorox Company 
Katie Waeltz, Vice President, Center Store Category Management and Insights, Topco Associates LLC
Additional Speakers to be Announced
9:15 AM - 9:45 PM The Future of Fresh
The fresh perimeter has always been a key differentiator for the independent grocer. Maintain your edge by diving into the latest trends for fresh foods, from local and organic to hydroponics and urban agriculture. Consumers are increasingly expecting products made or growth using ethical and environmentally friendly practices, as well as higher-quality convenience formats. Leading retailers are meeting these demands with innovative store layouts, attractive displays, experiential marketing, uncommon offerings and personalization. Hear how growers, distributors and retailers are working together to win in these critical categories.
MODERATOR: Andrew Marshall, Wholesale-Distributor Relations and External Partnerships, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)
Abby Prior, Chief Commercial Officer, BrightFarms, Inc.
Lauren G. D. Redman, Chief Executive Officer & President, Newport Avenue Market
Dorn Wenninger, Senior Vice President of Produce, UNFI
9:45 AM - 10:15 AM The Future of the Economy
Explore the future of the global economy and gain valuable insights into how the trends, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead will impact independent operators. As the world undergoes significant transformations, understanding the dynamics shaping the future of the economy is essential for individuals, businesses and policymakers alike. This session will examine key drivers of change and disruption in the global economy, from technological advancements and demographic shifts to environmental concerns and geopolitical dynamics.  
10:15 AM - 12:00 PM  B2B Program 
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Keynote Luncheon

With the presidential campaign ramping up, Matt K. Lewis brings a unique perspective to the political scene. Lewis is a senior columnist for the Daily Beast and author of the book Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots). A center-right critic of American politics and pop culture, Lewis has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, PBS NewsHour, ABC’s Nightline, CBS News’ Face the Nation, and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and has contributed to radio outlets including NPR and the BBC. Lewis dissects issues in conversation with other thinkers, authors and newsmakers on his podcast, Matt Lewis and the News, and co-hosts The DMZ Show with liberal pundit Bill Scher. As a journalist, Lewis has earned a reputation as an “independently minded” and “intellectually honest” commentator, and has been named one of the “40 Best Conservative Columnists” by RightWingNews each year since 2013.

Matt Lewis, Daily Beast

1:45 PM -
2:15 PM
Concurrent Breakout Sessions 

  •  The Future of Positioning
    Effective positioning strategies leverage technology and data-driven approaches to optimize pricing decisions, enhance customer experiences and drive profitability. From the impact of fluctuating supply chains to evolving customer demands, we will analyze the factors that necessitate a more dynamic and agile approach, which has the potential to revolutionize the grocery industry. Discover how artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics are empowering retailers to gather real-time data and insights that guide pricing options. Additionally, we will discuss the potential impact on consumer behavior, customer perception and loyalty, as well as ethical considerations. Discover how dynamic pricing philosophies can suggest new opportunities for growth, profitability, transparency and customer satisfaction in the competitive grocery market.SPEAKERS:
    John Abbene, President, BRdata Software Solutions
    Joseph Dwyer, Data Scientist, BRdata Software Solutions
  •  The Future of HBC & GMAs
    As consumer preferences and expectations evolve, staying ahead of the curve and understanding the trends and innovations shaping the health & beauty care, household products, and general merchandise sectors is needed to maximize shopper satisfaction and larger basket sizes. Explore the growing market for natural, organic, and clean-label products and how retailers are responding to this demand. Hear from those that can help independents capitalize on the high margin opportunities.
    Joe Kirby,  President, Imperial Distributors, Inc.
    Gary Redner, Chief Operating Officer, Redner's Markets
    Additional Speakers to be Announced 
  • Customer Connection with Woodman's Food Markets (NGA Associate Members Only)
    In a closed, intimate environment, industry suppliers and solution providers (Associate Members) will hear from an innovative independent retailer on their business objectives, growth strategies, and how trading partners can collaborate to meet the needs of their community.
    Kristin Popp, Executive Vice President, Woodman's Food Markets
    Paul Ewing, Director of Merchandising, Woodman's Food Markets 
2:15 PM -
2:45 PM
Networking Break 
2:45 PM  - 3:15 PM Concurrent Breakout Sessions 

  • The Future of the Front End
    From self-checkout to online shopping, the traditional approach to the front end is poised for radical transformation. This session explores how retailers can adopt new technologies and pursue innovative ways for the check stand to be a profit center.
    Kendra Sewell, President, Pan-Oston
    Additional Speakers to be Announced 
  • Customer Connection with The Roberts Co. (NGA Associate Members Only)
    In a closed, intimate environment, industry suppliers and solution providers (Associate Members) will hear from an innovative independent retailer on their business objectives, growth strategies, and how trading partners can collaborate to meet the needs of their community.
    David Roberts, President & CEO, The Roberts Co.
3:15 PM -
3:30 PM
Networking Break 
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM Concurrent Breakout Sessions 

  • The Future of a Deli, Dairy & Bakery
    What will these fresh categories look like in the years ahead? We’re already seeing the growth of plant-based proteins, lab-grown meats, alternative dairy products and new recipes to address allergen sensitivity. And how will these areas look as e-commerce continues to grow? Come away with new insights and a clearer picture of the trends driving these destination perimeter departments.
    Tim Jennings, President, Roth's Fresh Markets 
    John Pawlowski, President and Chief Operating Officer, Lipari Foods 
  • The Future of Emerging Brands
    Exclusivity provides a competitive edge. What does that mean for independent grocers looking to differentiate themselves from big chain competitors? This session explores the opportunities available with budding brands that share values and goals with smaller grocers, and how they can help you deliver on growing demand for products with adjectives like local, natural, simple and authentic.
    Ted Balistreri, Owner, Sendik's Food Markets
    Daisy Betance, Owner and Founder, Little Buddha
    Luke Schneider, Founder and CEO, Fire Department Coffee
  • Customer Connection with Coborn's Inc.  (NGA Associate Members Only)
    In a closed, intimate environment, industry suppliers and solution providers (Associate Members) will hear from an innovative independent retailer on their business objectives, growth strategies, and how trading partners can collaborate to meet the needs of their community.
    Emily Coborn-Wright, Senior Vice President, Retail Support Services, Coborn's Inc. 
4:00 PM - 4:45 PM The Future of Relationships 
4:45 PM - 5:00 PM Day Two Closing Remarks 
5:30 PM -
6:15 PM
Chairman's Reception (Retailer & Wholesaler Executives, Key Sponsors & Invited Guests Only) 
6:15 PM - 8:00 PM NGA Foundation Fundraiser (Separate Ticket Required)
Mini-Golf, Major Impact
Join the NGA Foundation on Tuesday night for an exciting evening where attendees will embrace their competitive spirit at D.C.s most unique indoor mini-golf course. Attendees will enjoy heavy hor d'ouevres and open bar while networking. Tickets will benefit the NGA Foundation and its work in industry promotion, student programs, leadership development, diversity & inclusion and technical assistance. 


7:00 AM - 11:45 AM  Conference Registration Open 
7:30 AM - 8:00 AM   Networking Breakfast
8:00 -
8:30 AM 
Keynote Session 
8:00 AM - 8:30 AM  The Future of Food Safety Regulation & Litigations
Independent grocers strive for regulatory compliance, assuring they sell only safe food, keeping their customers healthy, and avoiding the risks associated with foodborne illness. But despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in a situation that you never expected.  What would you do if the government calls to say you are the cause of an outbreak?  What would you do if you found that your stores sold recalled food to your customers? What will you do if you are being sued for causing illness, even deaths, due to contaminated food?  What can you do if the regulators want to close down your store?  It can happen to you --- and you should be thinking now about your plan to respond. An nationally-recognized food safety litigator who works exclusively for the food industry will share his experience and thoughts on emerging scientific, regulatory, and food safety legal trends, and what you can do to protect your company, your brand, and your customers.

Shawn Stevens, Founder, Food Industry Council LLC 
9:15 AM -
9:45 AM 
 Networking Break 
9:45 AM - 10:30 AM   The Future of Grocery Distribution
The nation’s supply chain continues to face challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that stressed the systems to its limits. Have our supply networks emerged stronger for the experience? And how can we prevent future breakdowns? Our panel of experts will discuss their outlook for grocery distribution and how best to take on the logistical and regulatory headwinds our industry may face.
Dan Funk, Chief Operating Officer and Incoming President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc.
Amy Niemetscheck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Certco Inc.
Ray Sprinkle, President and Chief Executive Officer, URM Stores, Inc.
Shellie Wood, Vice President of Sales – Regional Chain, KeHe Distributors, LLC
10:30 AM - 11:00 AM  The Future of Food & Payments
As the Food as Medicine movement is gaining steam within the federal government and private health insurers, the way consumers are paying for food at the grocery store is rapidly evolving. NGA is deeply involved in ensuring independent grocers are not left behind in public and private programs like SNAP online, nutrition incentives, produce prescriptions, and Medicare Advantage healthy benefit cards. In this session you will learn about what these future payments look like and what you can do to stay ahead.
Joshua Anderegg, Project Director, TA Center, National Grocers Association
Stephanie Johnson, Vice President, Government Relations, National Grocers Associaiton 
11:00 AM - 11:45 AM  The Future of Retail Leadership
The future of the independent grocery industry is largely dependent on the ability and vision of those chosen to lead it. What qualities must they possess and how can they best prepare to take on whatever lies ahead? Hear from our industry’s most prominent leaders on what being “up to the task” means in the face of a constantly changing marketplace and an evolving multigenerational workforce.
MODERATOR: Greg Ferrara, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Grocers Association
Erin Horvath, Chief Operating Officer, UNFI 
Tim Lowe, President, Lowes Foods 
Kurt Schertle, Chief Operating Officer, Weis Markets
Additional Speakers to be Announced 
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  NGA Government Relations Briefing
1:00 PM -
5:00 PM 
NGA Advocacy Meetings (NGA Members Only)