Meet the Speakers



Abbey Herrmann
Abbey Herrmann
Western Michigan University
Student
Abbey is a Senior at Western Michigan University studying Food and CPG Marketing with a minor in General Business. She will graduate in Spring 2023. Abbey serves as the VP of Marketing on the Food Marketing Association Executive Board and is a Dean’s List student. Abbey was a student athlete on the WMU varsity volleyball team her freshman year and worked as a Marketing Intern at Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids, MI last summer.

Reed Immer
Reed Immer
CHABASO
Director, Sales & Marketing
Reed grew up in Connecticut, attended UConn, and has focused his work on building up forward-thinking food companies through smart partnerships and strategic branding. He's a member of the leadership team at sister organizations Chabaso Bakery, Atticus New Haven, and CT Food Launchpad, focusing on sales and marketing. Earlier in his career he was the second employee at Junzi, a fast-casual Chinese food concept that started out of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and now has locations across Greater New York City.

Venkata “Sid” Konka
Venkata “Sid” Konka
Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA company
Director, Data Solutions Architecture
Venkata (Sid) Konka serves as Director, Data Solutions Architecture for Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA. He joined the company’s co-op program in 2014 and became a permanent associate in 2015, growing from a talented data engineer to a broadly respected Director of Data Solution Architecture whose expertise and thought leadership is highly sought after. His fast progression on the IT team is driven by his success in designing the Data Lake, which is enabling data science, machine learning, analytics and reporting for Ahold Delhaize USA brands. Examples include customer hyper-personalization, brand and in-stock position improvements, as well as his capacity to advocate and collaborate across the IT and business teams. Sid is a pioneer of new capabilities and was the company’s first Data Engineer, Solutions Architect and now the first Director of Solutions Architecture. Prior to joining Retail Business Services, Sid pursued his master’s in information systems from Northeastern University and worked for an Hi IT services company in India.

Elizabeth Lafontaine
Elizabeth Lafontaine
Retail Leader Pro
Chief Retail Analyst
Elizabeth Lafontaine is the Chief Retail Analyst at Retail Leader Pro, an EnsembleIQ brand. Backed by nearly a decade of retail experience, she uncovers emerging trends in consumer behavior to help retailers and brands tap into new insights and create winning strategies in the ever-evolving world of commerce. Her analyses and commentary help businesses deepen their industry knowledge while also identifying ways to win with an ever-evolving consumer.

Juanita Londono Castillo
Juanita Londono Castillo
Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA company
IT Strategy Designer
Juanita Londono is an IT Strategy Designer for Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA. In less than three years, she has advanced from an IT Co-op to a respected leader and transformation agent. Juanita champions Design Thinking and usability critical for IT modernization through creating and delivering training and providing exceptional mentoring at every level and her design-centered research has been leveraged in strategy creation, project plans, succession planning and key internal communications. She is a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion and working to create a culture of belonging for those around her. Prior to joining Retail Business Services, Juanita worked as a User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Designer for different organizations in the retail industry, as well as a Graphic Designer in advertising agencies and design studios working with Crate & Barrel, Hush Puppies, Chipotle, Westin and Renaissance. Juanita received an MFA in Graphic Design Visual Experience from SCAD, The Savannah College of Art and Design, as well as a BFA in Design with emphasis on Communication and two minors in Literature from Los Andes University.

Mary Raclawski
Mary Raclawski
Western Michigan University
Student
Mary Raclawski is currently a senior at Western Michigan University who is originally from Algonquin, Illinois. She will be majoring in Food and CPG Marketing and is expected to graduate
in the Spring of 2023. Mary was a part of the Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs at Western Michigan for two years. Along with that, she is a part of Fellow Christian Athletes & is the Community Service Director for the Food Marketing Association. She has been on the Dean’s list numerous times and has received the All Academic Mid-American Conference Honors three consecutive times during her athletic career.

Nate Vollmer
Nate Vollmer
T.A. Solberg Co., Inc.
Director of Human Resources
Nate Vollmer was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin, where he began his career in the grocery industry at a young age, bagging and stocking groceries for Sentry Foods. As Nate pursued his degrees in Biology and Wildlife Management and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, he got a job working for the local grocery store, Trig’s. He worked in various departments of the store during his college years and was presented an opportunity to begin a career with the company as an HR Manager at one of the stores. This was the start of path which led him to hold additional roles in the company including Assistant Store Director, HR Coordinator and finally Director of Human Resources. Each leadership position he held afforded him growth, industry knowledge and interpersonal experiences that resulted in a wonderful 15-year career with the same amazing family-owned grocery operator in the Wisconsin Northwoods.
Nate has a passion for people, development, training, leadership, teamwork, promoting from within, and communication. This has served him and others well as he has grown to oversee HR functions at the company’s 5 grocery stores, hardware store, coffee shops, consignment store, Postal Express locations, salon, Smokehouse, air charter company, and other T.A. Solberg company-owned business entities.
During his tenure with T.A. Solberg Co., Nate has also grown personally. He started a family with his wonderful wife Meredith, three daughters and one son. When Nate isn’t working, he enjoys everything Wisconsin Sports, especially Packers and Brewers! He loves camping, fishing, running and tending the grill at barbeques.
With the rapid pace at which life, and the industry changes, Nate believes it is important to remember several truths that will transcend any challenges companies face with the current labor market and generational shifts:
Obstacles are not detours, they are a part of the journey!
Find the fun in everything you do!
Your team is your greatest asset in the guest service industry!
You can’t win the bidding war, but you can win the people war with effective leadership and coaching!

Katelyn Wandel
Katelyn Wandel
Western Michigan University
Student
Katelyn Wandel is a Senior, honors student majoring in Food Marketing and minoring in International Business at Western Michigan University. She is intending to graduate in the Spring of 2023. Katelyn is a Dean’s List student, who is involved within Alpha Lambda Delta Co-Ed Honors Fraternity, WMU’s chapter of the American Marketing Association, and currently serves as the President of WMU’s Food Marketing Association. She has also acted as a research team member and a speaker/student captain for two WMU case competition teams at NGA. Katelyn has previous intern experience as a Merchandising Intern at Meijer, as well as a Consumer Insights Intern at Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Dr. Russell Zwanka
Dr. Russell Zwanka
Western Michigan University
Associate Professor- Food Marketing
Dr. Russell J. Zwanka serves as Director of the Food Marketing Program, and Professor of Category Management and Food Marketing, at Western Michigan University, one of the top Food Marketing programs in the world. Delivering high quality curriculum and applied food marketing skills, along with the Food Industry Research and Education Center, Western Michigan University endeavors to work with the food industry to provide real time solutions; while also helping educate the future leaders of the food industry. Zwanka has previously taught Marketing Research, Personal Selling, Marketing Strategy, Food Marketing, Business Strategy, Global Business, and Marketing Principles.

Having spent a career in the food industry before teaching, Dr. Z conceptualized and formed the Food Marketing Concentration at Siena College; as well as the Food Marketing Track at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Serving as the Chair of the Food Industry University Coalition (FIUC), Zwanka works with other universities teaching Food Marketing, to help educate the future of the food industry. The FIUC is made in part by the generosity of the National Grocers Association (NGA).

Zwanka’s 25 books, ranging from the topics of category management, store walks, marketing, THC and CBD, and even how to do business in Cuba, can be found in over thirty countries and all amazon sites globally. Dr. Z has led the merchandising, marketing, advertising, procurement, and all customer engagement areas for multiple food retail companies domestically and internationally.

Zwanka holds a Doctorate in International Business from ISM in Paris, France. He also holds a Master of Science in Management from Southern Wesleyan University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Never stop learning….