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Ryan Houck

Ryan is a nationally-recognized writer, director, and communications specialist who creates advertising and strategy for leading companies, campaigns and causes.  A partner at Consensus, his clients include numerous publicly-traded corporations, industry groups, party caucuses and political campaigns.

Ryan’s work includes award-winning corporate TV spots and hundreds of ads for successful campaigns across the country—from Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas to Minnesota, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Virginia.  Ryan’s ads have also headlined The Drudge Report, scored millions of hits on YouTube, and earned coverage from Fox News, MSNBC, The Hill, RealClearPolitics, and many other national outlets.

In 2014, Ryan published a book on generational politics with Post Hill Press.  Upon its release, the new title quickly shot to the top of Amazon’s National Politics, Elections and Commentary sections. Ryan has also periodically written for national news outlets, including the Daily Caller, CNS News, and  As an accomplished spokesman and ghostwriter, his work has appeared in most major print outlets in Florida, including the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel.

Over the years, Ryan has served as spokesman for national organizations, statewide campaigns, and publicly-traded companies, appearing on Fox News and other notable TV and radio outlets.  He’s also a frequent public speaker on corporate media management, ad creation, and topical political subjects.  His work includes numerous published print and scholarly articles as well as documentary directing credits.

Prior to joining Consensus Communications, Ryan was executive director of Florida’s historic Vote No on 4 campaign in 2010—a $16 million statewide campaign that transformed a 30-point deficit into a 2-to-1 victory.  He is also a veteran of Mel Martinez’s successful U.S. Senate bid in 2004 and an alumnus of his Senate staff.

In 2012, Ryan was honored as one of the Orlando Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” He attended Rollins College on a full academic scholarship and graduated with a BA in Political Science.


Christopher Howes
Partner - Howes Wolf

Chris founded The Howes Group in 2001 after years of successful government affairs work at both the state and municipal levels. For the last 23 years he’s been a top-tier contract lobbyist on behalf of dozens of associations and corporations, and has stood on the front line of the biggest legislative battles at the Colorado State Capitol. From the “beer wars” to internet sales taxation to the INFORM Act, Mr. Howes has successfully navigated the toughest legislative issues for the Colorado Retail Council. He possesses an institutional knowledge that informs successful strategy and possesses a well-honed ability to leverage his relationships with legislators to the benefit of his clients.

Mr. Howes earned his bachelor’s from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, and his master’s degree from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. In 1997, he left the East Coast for the snow-capped mountains of Colorado and began his fruitful career in Colorado politics. Outside of the state capitol, Mr. Howes loves watching all-things-sports and enjoys trying out his self-proclaimed “master chef” skills on gracious dinner party guests, but loves nothing better than golfing with friends in the Colorado sunshine.


Jon B. Hurst

Jon Hurst has served as President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM) since 1990.  As CEO of the 4,000-member statewide trade association, Hurst manages the member services, education and public affairs of the organization. RAM was organized in 1918 as the Voice of Retailing in Massachusetts, and today represents stores and restaurants of all types and sizes.


Hurst also serves as Chairman of the Board of the MA Retail Merchants Workers Compensation Group, Inc., a non-profit group organized by RAM in 1991.  He also heads the Retailers Association of Massachusetts Health Insurance Cooperative, the first non-profit small business health insurance cooperative authorized in 2012 by the state.


Hurst has served on various state advisory boards, including roles with the Economic Development Planning Council, the Statewide Healthcare Quality Advisory Committee, the Health Policy Commission Advisory Council, the Governor’s Merged Market Advisory Committee, the Unemployment Trust Fund Commission, and the Workforce Competitive Trust Fund Advisory Committee.

Hurst has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Beverly YMCA, Beverly Main Streets, the National Retail Federation, and also served as Chairman of the National Association of State Retail Association Executives.  Prior to serving at RAM, Hurst worked in public affairs roles for the Hershey Foods Corporation and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, as well as at the Ohio House of Representatives.


Hurst graduated from the Ohio State University in 1981.  Hurst and his wife Jan have three grown sons and reside in Beverly, Massachusetts.


Rob Karr

As President & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), Rob brings 29 years of experience to the Association.

Rob joined the IRMA staff in 1994, coordinating IRMA’s government relations efforts. In that capacity, he also served as the legislative coordinator for the Illinois Food Retailers Association and the Midwest Hardware Association. Additionally, he had the responsibility for IRMA’s membership development efforts.

n 2012, Rob was named Executive Vice President and assumed the position of President & CEO on Jan. 1, 2014.

Rob currently serves on the Employment Security Advisory Board to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Illinois Attorney General’s Franchise Advisory Board, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Food Safety Advisory Committee and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program Policy Advisory Council. In 2009, Rob was appointed by then-Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the temporary Pension Systems Modernization Task Force.

He is a graduate of Illinois State University. Rob is a native of Chicago and long-time resident of Jacksonville where he and his wife, Lori, reside. They are the proud parents of four.


Cara Renfroe

As SVP, Global Operations & Transformation at Blackhawk Network (BHN), Cara Renfroe has executive oversight of the organization’s Supply Chain, Fulfillment, Merchandising, Customer Support, Account Management, Procurement, International Operations, and Transformation functions. She is a seasoned technology and business professional with deep experience in operations, enterprise systems implementation, product management, business operations, and strategy.

Cara has held progressively increasing leadership roles at BHN, across operations, technology, and product. Prior to BHN, she spent many years in the retail industry at Macy’s and Mervyns LLC as a Corporate Buyer.

Cara holds a B.A. in Business from the University of Oregon.

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Kevin Paul Scott

Kevin Paul Scott has traveled to six continents and spoken to leaders from more than 100 countries.  Kevin co-founded the leadership consultancy ADDO (which is Latin for Inspire). ADDO developed Coca-Cola Leader Lab, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, and the Baltimore Ravens Leadership Institute; ADDO helps companies build brands from the inside out. Over the last several years, Kevin has worked with FIAE, FMI and several state associations, as well as individual grocers to help them attract, retain, and develop top talent.

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Scott Shalley

R. Scott Shalley currently serves as President & CEO of the Florida Retail Federation (FRF). For over 80 years FRF has served as the voice of Florida’s immense retail industry. As President & CEO, Mr. Shalley maintains responsibility for all areas of FRF operations including oversight of Georgia Retailers, FRF Services, FRF Realty and other related ventures. He joined FRF in 2017 and has over 30 years of experience in lobbying, association management and private sector business management.


Prior to joining FRF, Mr. Shalley served as Executive Director of the Florida Association of Counties. He has worked extensively with lawmakers and government agencies throughout Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.  Mr. Shalley previously served as Vice President/Director of Business Management for an internationally recognized bridge engineering firm. His responsibilities included contract negotiation and business development throughout the United States as well as in South America and Saudi Arabia.


Mr. Shalley is a lifelong Florida resident, and a graduate of Florida State University.


Dariush Vollenweider

Dariush Vollenweider currently serves as Acting Group Supervisor for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the principal investigative component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). HSI investigates, disrupts, and dismantles transnational criminal organizations and terrorist networks that threaten or seek to exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States.

In his current role, Mr. Vollenweider leads agency efforts to support the prosecution, disruption, and dismantlement of those who seek to harm the illicit finance networks; strengthen the financial and fintech industries against illicit activity; and enhance communication between government and private sector partners. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Vollenweider worked as a field Agent for HSI in Albuquerque, NM investigating primarily narcotics trafficking organizations. Mr. Vollenweider began his federal law enforcement career in 2010 and has since been involved with a host of different investigations that fall within the national programmatic priorities of Homeland Security Investigations.

Mr. Vollenweider has extensive experience with conducting and leading complex criminal investigations and operations, including those involving money laundering; terrorism finance; bank fraud and wire fraud violations; technology proliferation; Cyber and Dark Web Crime, intellectual property theft; and the smuggling of humans, weapons, bulk currency, narcotics, and other contraband. Mr. Vollenweider also serves as a DHS representative on the Louisiana SAR committee.

Mr. Vollenweider is Certified as Cryptocurrency Tracing Certified Examiner (CTCE) and graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.

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Deborah White

Deborah serves as Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and President of the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), an independent 501(c)(6) association with its own membership and governance functions. The Retail Litigation Center reflects the voice of the retail industry in the judicial branch and develops litigation strategies to influence the arc of the law as it relates to issues of greatest importance to the retail community. The RLC participates as amicus curiae in twenty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other significant federal and state courts each year.  The RLC also has a Defense Division through which the Center convenes retail corporate litigators to identify and curtail litigation ‘waves’ impacting the retail industry.

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Larissa Whittingham

As the Litigation Counsel for the Retail Litigation Center, Larissa collaborates with retail and law firm members to develop forward-thinking strategies to combat meritless mass action litigation. Larissa has experience practicing at an AmLaw100 law firm and as Director of Employment Litigation for a Fortune 500 company.

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