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From the International President

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Happy New Year!

Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI

It is an exciting time for the Institute! We have so many wonderful things coming up for 2022 - both Internationally and locally within your Chapters. For starters, I hope everyone had the chance to read the VMSD story on the Institute celebrating our 60-year history. It’s a great read written by industry leader and Institute member Eric Feigenbaum. Our thanks to Jennifer Acevedo, Media RDI, VMSD magazine, for her continued support of the Institute.

Recently, I had the honor to speak at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show at the Javits Center in NYC. Our session -- "New York City Virtual Store Tour: A Sneak Preview of New Openings" -- on January 16, was packed! We focused not only on high-end brands that the city is known for, but family favorites come to life such as Harry Potter New York and LEGO® Fifth Avenue. It was great to be in person once again.

The focus on new stores reminds me to mention the Institute's Call for Entries for the 51st International Design Competition. We're looking forward to seeing all the amazing stores that opened in 2021. You can find complete details here including special member rates (save $125 on entry fees).

Several winners from the 50th Design Competition are included in a piece for written by longtime member Sandy Stein, on how, in this time of unified commerce, and less emphasis on in-store transactions, retail design is becoming an even more important brand differentiator. Thank you Sandy for telling the world what we know and hold true as Institute members and practitioners. Find Sandy's piece here.

A new year brings many good things and two of them are our International Sponsors, which you are seeing on our weekly International emailers and Chapter newsletters. Again supporting us in 2022 is PLANiT Construction. Founded in 2003, PLANiT is continuously focused on delivering high-quality, dependable general contracting services, consulting, project management, and comprehensive facilities maintenance for national clients across North America. Thanks to Claudio Stabile and his team!

TMS Lighting is our newest patron for 2022. Established in 1923, TMS started with a simple idea, build a light fixture, infuse it with quality, and then back it with integrity. This has been the company’s formula for more than 90 years. Thanks to David Bahra and the team at TMS.

We are focused more than ever on increasing our offerings to members. If you have ideas on what you'd like to see or want to get involved either on the International Board or within your local Chapter, please reach out to Janet Groeber ( in the International Office.

Don’t forget to check out the Institute’s website for the Job Board -- it’s chock full of opportunities at every level of experience. If you are an employer, job posts are complimentary. And don't forget Events, the lifeblood of our organization, which in most cases are free to members. Check them out here.

Wishing all good health, good fortune, much happiness, and much success in 2022!

Cynthia Hirsch Ortiz, RDI International President Retail Design Institute

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