Meet Your Speakers!

Jan Bannister

Jan Bannister

Guest Services Manager, Columbus Indiana Visitors Center

Jan‘s life’s work has been in a number of design specialties, including textile and product design, interior design (residential and commercial,) trade show and display design and graphics/signage in the Chicago area before relocating to Columbus, Indiana. She instructed in Visual Communications, Design Technology, Environmental and Interior Design at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. She is currently managing visual merchandising and purchasing, and greeting guests from around the globe for the modernist architectural design gift shop at Columbus Indiana Visitors Center. Ms. Banister has a BFA in Interior Design from Northern Illinois University.

Session: Mapping a Merchandise Plan

Ross Beardsley

Ross Beardsley

Director of Retail Operations, Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens

Ross Beardsley has almost two decades of non-profit retail experience. Though he enjoys developing custom product the most, with a degree in both design and in business management, he successfully navigates the financial side of retail as well. He feels strongly that happiness comes in part from dedicating your work life to something you can really believe in, like wildlife conservation. His favorite animal at his zoo is the capybara, the world’s largest rodent. Ross’ fantasy job is to live in Paris, France, and to buy for the Paris zoo.

Session: Avoiding Being Outsourced

Susan Benjamin

Susan Benjamin

Founder of True Treats Historic Candy, Former Communications Strategist, Author of 10 Books

A former college professor, Susan Benjamin was a marketing/communications researcher and strategist for places ranging from Fortune 500s to the White House and has written nine books on the subject. In 2010, she founded award-winning True Treats Historic Candy, the nation‘s only research-based historic candy company, selling wholesale, retail and online. In both capacities, has appeared widely in media such from NPR, PBS, and ABC News to the New York Times and Bon Appetit and gives talks at venues throughout the nation. Her tenth book, ‘Sweet as Sin’ (Prometheus, 2016), was on Smithsonian’s ‘Best of Books about Food.’

Session: Creating an Experience for Your Customer

Kelli Davis

Kelli Davis

Store Manager, Science Center of Iowa

Kelli Davis is currently the Gift Store Manager for the Science Center of Iowa She has been with SCI for seven years, and originated this role for SCI and is the only person to hold this position. Kelli studied International Business at Drake University where she graduated with her BSBA. During her time at Drake, she spent a semester at American University and traveled to Uganda for a summer class. She moved to China to teach English before completing her MBA in Shanghai and Florence, Italy. Outside of work, she enjoys life with her husband (Andy) and dog (Luna), all of them dreaming of travel and food.

Session: Mentorship – Find, Ask, Grow
Advanced Financial Assessment II: Using the MSA Retail Industry Report to Advocate for Your Store and Your Career

Marie du Vaure

Marie du Vaure

Book Buyer, J. Paul Getty Museum

Marie du Vaure has been the Book Buyer for the J. Paul Getty Museum stores (the Getty Center and the Getty Villa) since 2011. Previously she had been the Head Book Buyer for Vroman’s in Pasadena, CA, and has worked at other general bookstores in California. In 2015, she was judge on the Non-Fiction award panel for the Kirkus Prize (Kirkus Review); and in 2010, she was one of three independent judges for the Story Prize (outstanding short story collection). She completed her studies in France in literature and philosophy, and has cultivated a lifelong interest in art and history.

Session: On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Stuart Hata

Stuart Hata

Director of Retail Operations, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

A veteran museum store retailer for over 29 years, Stuart Hata is the Director of Retail Operations for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the de Young and Legion of Honor. Stuart is responsible for driving a multi-million dollar business and oversees merchandising, store operations, warehousing, product development, retail marketing, licensing, wholesale, and the online FAMSF store (shop.famsf.org). Stuart also serves as the Chair of MSA’s Marketing & Communications Committee and is a Past President of the MSA Board of Directors and MSA Western Chapter.

Session: On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Don Henderson

Don Henderson

Senior Buyer, National Gallery of Art

Don Henderson is the Senior Buyer for the Gallery Shops at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He has been a bookseller since he began working in the university bookstore at Indiana University when he was an undergrad. During his career, he has been the bookbuyer of three bookstores affiliated with the American Institute of Architects in Indianapolis, Boston and Washington, D.C. For the last twenty-four years, he has been the bookbuyer for the Gallery Shops at the National Gallery of Art. He is responsible for purchasing adult trade books and children’s books, NGA publications, as well as exhibition catalogues in close collaboration with the publications office and curators. in addition, he is the buyer for toys, games, and art supplies and manages the wholesale program.

Session: On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Colleen Higginbotham

Colleen Higginbotham

Director of Visitor Services, Chrysler Museum of Art

Colleen Higginbotham is the Director of Visitor Services at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA. With over twenty years of customer service management experience, she manages the visitor experience through supervision and training of front line staff, ongoing analysis of visitor research, oversight of Museum Shop, management of the Special Events department and catering/restaurant contract, and coordination of visitor logistics including seating, signage and traffic flow. She also serves on the Museum’s senior leadership team. Her passion is creating great individual experiences for every visitor, from the most experienced museum goer, who may be difficult to impress, to traditionally underserved audiences, who may need reassurance that they are welcome.

Session: Embracing Our Differences: Providing Personalized Service

Vincent Jacot

Vincent Jacot

Founder, Historiart

Vincent Jacot has worked in the heritage tourism industry for a decade. He specializes in a form of tourism that is commonly referred to as dark tourism; travel that features death, destruction and the seemingly macabre. Some of his work focused on balancing commemoration and commercialization at cultural institutions that interpret death. Influenced by his knowledge of interpretation and his experience working with these stores, Vincent founded Historiart, a vendor dedicated to the museum store sector. They create products and curate experiences that feature history, heritage, tradition, and culture.

Session: Balancing Commemoration and Commercialization: Interpreting Death in Museum Stores

Louise Kirby

Louise Kirby

Director of Operations & People, The Deep

Louise Kirby, MSc, Chartered MCIPD, Director of Operations & People, is responsible for all HR and commercial activities at The Deep aquarium in Hull, England, a charity, employing 160 people. Louise has worked there since it was originally built to promote inner-city regeneration‘s Louise recalls being determined that as many people as possible would enjoy the attraction, and providing inclusive tourism for all is key to this aspiration’s Having managed customer service to deliver over 7 million visits since 2002, as a champion of service excellence, people development and accessible tourism, Louise delights in raising aspirations and achievement.

Session: Championing Accessibility & Inclusivity for Commercial Excellence

Laura Murphy

Laura Murphy

Manager/Buyer, The Preservation Society of Newport County

Laura Murphy has been employed by The Preservation Society of Newport County, caretaker of the Newport Mansions, for over 25 years. She is the Retail Operations Manager and Buyer, overseeing six Newport Mansions Stores and an e-commerce site, NewportStyle.net. What Laura enjoys the most is the buying aspect of the job for the stores and web site. Working with vendors, creating products, building on themes is rewarding! The vendor relationships that have been cultivated over the years are priceless. Laura was Chapter President for the Museum Store Association’s North Atlantic region, served on the Board of Directors and was President of MSA in 2005/2006.ÿÿ She is an untiring volunteer, serving on many committees over the years, and was an integral player in the development of the Knowledge Standards and served as Chair of the Museum Store Sunday Events and Promotions Work Group. When she does have some free time, she enjoys riding her horse with her dog Maebelle trotting alongside, or paddle boarding with Maebelle along for the ride! Bicycling around Newport has become a passion and is an advocate for bike safety serving on the Board of Bike Newport for the past 6 years.

Session: How to Meet the Challenges of a Part Time Sales Staff

Cathy Nagle-Ervin

Cathy Nagle-Ervin

Regional Manager, Great Lakes, Eastern National

Cathy Nagle-Ervin is a seasoned retail management professional with over 30 years of experience working for companies such as Barnes & Noble College Division as well as PetSmart. For the past 18 years she has been employed as the Great Lakes Regional Manager with Eastern National. She is responsible for all the hiring, training, product development, merchandising, and inventory control for retail stores in six states. She has also been a presenter at national conferences such as the Public Lands Alliance as well as the Museum Store Association. Ten years ago she graduated from The Travel Channel Academy, a digital filmmaking training course. As a result, she discovered her passion for all things digital! She continues to hone her skills in screen casting and eLearning. In the past six years she has gained additional skills in live stream event production. Cathy is a certified story based eLearning designer and has created countless projects for non-profits and businesses alike. In 2017, she has earned her COTP certificate from the International Council for Certified Online Training Professionals. Cathy is also a Certified Retail Coach for WhizBang Training and is the owner of Retail Training Tools.com.

Session: 45 Terrific Retail Tips

Tim Niedert

Tim Niedert

Book & Media Manager, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Tim Niedert is the Book & Media Manager for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. A 20-year member of MSA, he has been the book buyer for the de Young and Legion of Honor Museum Stores since 2005. In addition to curating the book selection in support of the permanent collection, he has also planned and managed the catalogue and related title assortments for approximately 100 special exhibition stores, including Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter, Truth & Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters, and Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll.

Session: On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Patricia Sampson

Patricia Sampson

Manager of Retail Shops & Visual Merchandising, High Museum of Art

Patricia Sampson is the Manager of Retail Shops & Visual Merchandising at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a native of New York and attended Marist College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising. Her career in for profit retail began shortly after graduating college where she went on to work as an assistant buyer for a resident buying office and then moved into department store retail. While working in department store retail, she wore many hats from manager to buyer and even fashion show coordinator. All of these experiences have been instrumental to her success in her current position at The High. Patricia’s involvement with MSA began a year after joining The High. She recognized the importance of the organization and began volunteering during the Atlanta market. Her passion to give back to the MSA community, lead her to a position on the regional board of the South Atlantic Chapter. She is currently on the MSA Board of Directors in the post of Director at Large. Patricia has also served on many other MSA committees both at the national and local chapter level. Her other organizational involvements included the Speakers Bureau for the High Museum of Art, The Jennifer Keith Institute, AIDS Advocate for the American Red Cross, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She also is an active member at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral. Lastly, Patricia is an avid sports fan, volleyball being her favorite. She enjoys sewing, cooking and spending quality time with family and friends.

Session: Mentorship – Find, Ask, Grow

Christopher Solt

Christopher Solt

Executive Director, Fair Trade Federation

As Executive Director, Chris manages the strategic, administrative, and programmatic aspects of the Fair Trade Federation. Prior to joining the FTF staff in 2016, Chris spent over 5 years as a Regional Sales Manager for Ten Thousand Villages US, working with fair trade stores of all sizes to be more successful. Chris then led the training team with Ten Thousand Villages for 7 years, coordinating and driving educational events, conferences, and fair trade promotion. He has developed relationships with fair trade professionals from all over the world, including travels to India and Nepal, where he saw the impact of fair trade, first hand. Chris earned a BA in Social Science at Cleveland State University, and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership with a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources from Southern New Hampshire University.

Session: Fair Trade – Setting a Legitimate Ethical Standard

Julie Steiner

Julie Steiner

Director of Retail Operations, The Barnes Foundation

Julie Steiner is the Director of Retail Operations at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, and was the 2017-18 President of the Museum Store Association. She writes and teaches on a variety of fine art topics, as well as on retail and product development, perpetually investigating ways to make art history accessible to wider audiences and, through retail, to create meaningful personal connections to fine art. Julie has a degree in art from Smith College, and studied art history in Paris at the Sorbonne. She has worked in museums in education, curatorial, and operations departments, including as a research assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Session: Advanced Financial Assessment II: Using the MSA Retail Industry Report to Advocate for Your Store and Your Career

Jay Thomson

Jay Thomson

Assistant Manager, The Barnes Shop at the Barnes Foundation

Jay is an artist and designer with extensive experience in non-profit retail, product development and business management. He is currently the Assistant Manager at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which affords him many opportunities for creating compelling products. Prior to coming to the Barnes in 2012, Jay owned and operated a retail artist‘s materials business, and developed custom product on a budget. As an independent designer, Jay focuses his talents on textile design. He will be sharing many of the tips and tricks he’s learned over the years for developing unique products in this fun and engaging session.

Session: Leveraging Innovative Resources for Visual Merchandising and Custom Product Development

Andrew Uchin

Andrew Uchin

Head of Retail, Norton Simon Museum

Andrew Uchin has worked in the Museum non-profit retail industry for over 35 years. He is currently the head of retail at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. Andrew previously served as President of the Western Region MSA Chapter and was on several book selling at prior MSA conferences.

Session: Mentorship – Find, Ask, Grow

Kieren Whitworth

Kieren Whitworth

Manager of Book Buying, Imperial War Museums, UK

Kieran Whitworth has been Manager of Book Buying for Imperial War Museums for 18 years and previously managed the British Museum Bookshop in London. He has been at the forefront of selling books at IWM, from five diverse museums including free museums and admission charging heritage attractions, and has worked with many publishers during his career as a book buyer, including buying exhibition related books throughout this time. He is also the author of The Ultimate World War 2 Quiz book which was published in September 2017 by Michael O’Mara.

Session: On-Target: Take the Guesswork Out of Exhibition Catalogue Sales

Alice Woods

Alice Woods

Owner, ABW Designs

Alice Woods founded ABW Designs in 2007. It is now two brands, ABW Designs, precious metals mixed with stones and pearls, and A Single Strand, costume jewelry and accessories. Alice started her career in NYC in manufacturing, developing private label programs. She spent 12 years at Ralph Lauren where she held a number of positions. She started with product information and sales training programs for Bloomingdales and Macy’s. She identified a need for and then established the Analyst Department which interfaced with 800 retailers, to analyze sales data to improve sales and create manufacturing forecasts. She oversaw sales to Federated and May Corporate. When Alice left ‘corporate America’ she worked with a local store to manage a generational transition, implement a computer system and manage sales and marketing which resulted in the quadrupling of sales. When not working she enjoys hanging out with her family, gardening, traveling and almost any outdoor activity.

Session: How to Meet the Challenges of a Part Time Sales Staff