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From the International President

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

We've got BIG NEWS!

Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI

Our newly revamped Design Resource Directory is LIVE as of today on our website. Find a wide range of top-notch manufacturers and suppliers as well as consultants and practitioners - all Institute members - organized by categories ranging from architectural elements to wallcoverings, plus design consultancies. Professional, Associate, Allied, Trade, and Media members offering products and services to the industry receive complimentary listings for as long as they are members.


The directory is an exciting addition to our member benefits as the previous version was a much-visited section on our site. If you have any questions about your listing or would like to upgrade your listing (so you'll stand out), contact Janet Groeber in the International Office for assistance.


51st International Design Awards Update

As we complete the judging process, we’ve decided to hold off announcing award winners and Store of the Year until October 12, 2022, at the awards presentation, which will again be live-streamed. Chapters are gearing up to host local watch parties. Watch for more details coming soon - and the possibility of in-person viewing in NYC!


Thought Leadership Series​ Continues​

​Check out Eric Feigenbaum's latest think piece titled: Design, Culture, and the Human Spirit.


Professional and Trade Member of the Year

There's still time​ to nominate fellow members (in good standing) for Professional Member of the Year, Trade Member of the Year recognition, plus your nominations for Honorary Member.​ The awards recognize an individual member's contributions to the betterment of the Institute. Check your inbox for the nomination form emailed on July 11​. They’re due August 1st.


Welcome to Roe Palermo!

Design vet Roe Palermo, RDI, has signed on to help the Institute with events and communication at the International level. If you don't know Roe, you should as she's an expert in visual merchandising, brand experience, and store design. (And she has design awards and trade pub coverage to show for it!) Much of her professional career centered around divisions of Hudson's Bay Company including Lord & Taylor and Saks Off 5th before heading off to assist the growing number of direct-to-consumer retailers entering the brick-and-mortar realm. Roe is not only connected to hundreds in the industry, but she understands the type of events that will resonate with members. And, is particularly committed to driving next-level talent in the industry.


Institute Members in the Spotlight!

Late summer, early fall is shaping up to deliver an abundance of industry events with the Institute taking part in major ways. We’re jumping in to make more industry connections with leading manufacturers and suppliers, designers, brands, and retail professionals -- to raise our profile and attract others to become a part of our inspiring community.


Starting with StorePoint Retail which takes place August 21 to 24 in greater Orlando. We’ll have a presence there for the first time! The Institute takes the stage Sunday afternoon with an industry panel discussion titled Retail Partnership Marketing: Trends driving the Brick & Mortar Experience. I’ll be there with Tom Ertler, senior vice president, creative director with Miller Zell, and Adimika Owens, senior director of visual merchandising and design with Floor & Décor, on a panel moderated by Lindsay Henningfeld, our International Vice President.


Next up, Collaborate 2022 takes place September 13 to 15 in metro Washington, D.C. Julie Starzynski, a former International Treasurer of the Institute, currently director, of construction & design with Floor & Décor, will keynote. She’ll be speaking on successful collaboration in a post-Covid world.


Shop! Ideation and IRDC headed to Ohio

Now co-located, Ideation and IRDC will run from October 23 to 27 in downtown Columbus. Ideation will hold its Retail Design Challenge on October 25 hosted by industry veteran Bevan Bloemendaal, chief brand and creative officer with Nelson Worldwide. IRDC’s annual Iron Merchant Challenge, where teams compete head-to-head in an interactive onsite design project, is scheduled for October 26 with emcee Joe Baer, co-founder and CEO, ZenGenius. Get Ideation (October 23 to 25) details here. IRDC (October 26 and 27) details here. The events feature educational seminars, networking receptions, and retail tours.


In Memoriam: Kent D. Hensley 1960 - 2022

On a sad note, we lost former member Kent Hensley to cancer on July 14. A Celebration of Life will be held on August 6 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Winter Lounge & Rooftop Deck (7th floor) of The Dayton's Project building in downtown Minneapolis. In his 40-year career, Hensley touched many lives and his untimely passing inspired an outpouring of love and condolence on social media. Kent served as Minneapolis | St. Paul Chapter President and Chairman from 2013 to 2017. Kent was predeceased by his father, John Hensley. He will live on in the memories of his son, Tanner Hensley, his daughter Jessica Hensley, his mother Linda Hensley, his sister Amy Scholl, and his brothers Curt Hensley and Eric Hensley.


As a cancer survivor myself, I’d like to remind all of you to get your regular cancer screenings and be diligent when it comes to your health!


Please stay well everybody.


Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI International President Retail Design Institute

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