Scott A. Dahnke

While 2017 is still young, and many retailers ended holiday 2016 on a positive note, there’s already cause for concern for the overall health of the industry. The Limited has begun shuttering its 235 stores across the U.S., while Macy’s, Sears, Kmart, Aéropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s and the Children’s Place have all said that they will close units this year.

This makes the NRF‘s announcement on Wednesday of the 25 individuals named to its 2017 List of People Shaping Retail’s Future worth looking at.

“Retail is driven by millions of talented and passionate individuals who are constantly changing the industry,” said NRF Foundation executive director Ellen Davis. “The 2017 list captures the very best of people making an impact. Each in their own way is shaping retail’s future and [showing] the best of what retail represents.”

 The awards will be presented at the NRF Foundation gala on Jan. 15, the first night of the organization’s Big Show at the Jacob Javits Center. Now in its third year, the gala honors those named to the list and awards scholarships to talented students working to become the next generation of retail leaders. The NRF will also recognize Mark Parker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nike, as the visionary, a new award for a leader with a long record of driving change in the industry.

The organization acknowledges that a wide array of people are shaping retail’s future, not only investment banks, ceo’s atop big department store chains and Wall Street analysts.

List members are broken into four categories. In the disruptor group, Brad Bogolea, cofounder and ceo of Simbe Robotics, created Tally, a robot that audits shelves for out-of-stocks, low-stock and misplaced items and pricing errors; Anthony Bruce, cofounder and ceo of Applied Predictive Technologies, has made Big Data his tool of choice to help retailers make smart decisions; Christine Hunsicker, founder and ceo of Gwynnie Bee; Dominik Richter, founder and ceo Hello Fresh Global, and Tristan Walker, founder and ceo of Walker and Company Brands.

The Dreamers category includes Chieh Huang, founder and ceo of Boxed Wholesale, which aims to bring the best of the warehouse club, including the super sizes and savings, without the hassle of a shopping trip or cost of membership; Stefanie Botelho, founder and ceo of Fitzroy Toys; Michelle Lam, cofounder and ceo of data-driven lingerie company True & Co.; Kavita Shukla, inventor and founder of Fresh Paper, herbs and berries that last longer, and Mikaila Ulmer, founder and ceo of Me & The Bees Lemonade.

The Givers include Emily Avedikian, founder of Keeps Boutique at the Gatehouse, which collects new clothing from local retailers for girls, women and children in need; James Brett, president of West Elm, who started the company’s Clinton Global Initiative with a plan to purchase $35 million in artisan-made goods over two years; Roslyn S. Joffee, cofounder, secretary and director emeritus of Ascena Retail Group; Drew Ann Long, inventor of Caroline’s Cart, a patented shopping cart designed for older children and adults with special needs, and Monika Wiela, founder and ceo of Give Back Box, a platform for consumers to re-use cardboard boxes from e-commerce purchases for forwarding used clothing, accessories and household goods to the nearest Goodwill.

The influencers are well-known executives who hail from large corporations, such as Lisa Clyde, global head of consumer and retail investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Jason Goldberg, senior vice president of content and commerce at SapientRazorfish; David Lawenda, vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook US; Wendy Liebmann, founder, ceo and chief shopper of WSL Strategic Retail, and Fortune senior writer Phil Wahba.

The power players group includes Scott Dahnke, global co-ceo, L Catterton; Kevin Hofmann, president, online and chief marketing officer, The Home Depot; Steven Lowy, co-ceo of Westfield Corporation; Toni M. Miller, senior executive vice president, chief administration officer and chief financial officer of Boscov’s Department Store, and Marisa Thalberg, chief marketing officer of Taco Bell Corp.

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