National Retail Federation Visits FIDM

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Ellen R. Davis, Senior Vice President of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Executive Director of the NRF Foundation in Washington, D.C., visited FIDM recently to speak with the elite students in the Premier Marketing Group and the Premier Product Development Group about retail.

Ms. Davis started off the discussion by saying, "You guys have a leg up over a lot of other students and schools because when you came to FIDM you knew that you loved fashion. You made the decision earlier than a lot of other students."

She went on to explain that the NRF is a trade group known as the voice of retail worldwide. They represent retailers in the U.S. and all over the world through a variety of different initiatives, advocacy being one. She informed the group that the NRF has been working on The Marketplace Fairness Act for over 15 years. They also lobby on issues such as corporate tax reform.

One of the things the NRF is most well known for is education. They have a variety of annual conferences, seminars, and events in which executives in the industry come together and learn from one another.

Ms. Davis spoke with the students about the NRF Annual Convention & EXPO in New York City: "Retail's BIG Show." She said this year about 27,000 people attended, and speakers included Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, The Container Store CEO Kip Tindell, Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon, and HSN CEO Mindy Grossman.

Ms. Davis introduced the group of students to the goals and the mission of the NRF Foundation. Among other things, the non-profit organization works with educators to make sure their curriculum is relevant, and they offer scholarship programs. Ms. Davis said that this year the NRF Foundation is on track to award about $350,000 in scholarships. She said she loves her job and "loves talking and working with students."

A lively Q&A discussion with the FIDM Students followed.

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