The Only Statewide Association Exclusively Representing Retailers in Illinois
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) benefits Illinois retailing through effective engagement with retailers, the general public, policy makers, and the media regarding the impact legislative and regulatory proposals will have on the success of retail operations. As your voice in the Capitol, Chicago City Hall, Cook County Board Chambers, and regulatory agencies across the state, IRMA closely monitors legislative and regulatory activity, voicing opposition to anti-business proposals and supporting and passing business friendly initiatives.
Employing 1 out of every 5 people in Illinois, the retail industry is a driving force of the state’s economy. Retailers across the state are proud to call Illinois home but Illinois needs to stabilize and strengthen the economic environment to bolster existing employers and attract new ones. IRMA’s government affairs team is on the front lines of issues that directly affect retailers’ bottom line. IRMA is well-positioned to serve members with a single operation, those that represent a national chain, and everyone in between.
IRMA serves as the voice of Illinois retailing providing full-time advocacy services and representation in front of State, Cook County and City of Chicago policy makers.
IRMA’s government relations efforts have resulted in both the passage and defeat of significant bills of major bottom line impact on retail stores. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants can count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.
Among advocacy services and representation, IRMA’s group programs ensure a membership with IRMA doesn’t cost – it pays.
Retailers, at any level of the business, invest countless resources in making the company a success. We help members protect and grow that investment. IRMA group programs contribute to the bottom line in helping small and large companies get the best service at the lowest cost. Inside IRMA membership, there is something for everyone.
President and CEO
Rob Karr joined IRMA staff in 1994. In 2012 Rob was named Executive Vice President and assumed the position of President & CEO in 2014. Rob also serves on 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 Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the temporary Pension Systems Modernization Task Force.
Prior to joining IRMA, Rob was Associate Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers Association for two years and a campaign aide in several statewide and congressional races. He is a is a graduate of Illinois State University, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in history.
Rob is a native of Chicago and long-time resident of Jacksonville where he and his wife, Lori, reside with their four children.
Executive Vice President, Development
Gary Lukovich joined IRMA in 2019 serving as the Executive Vice President of Development.
Prior to joining IRMA, Gary most recently served as the corporate vice president for Homeowners Choice insurance company where he orchestrated a company-wide plan to enter nine new state markets. With a background in health/life and property/casualty insurance, as well as financial and banking services, Lukovich has a had a long career of creating business growth through sales, marketing and staffing and he has managed multi-million dollar budgets and workforces with as many as 25,000 professionals.
In this role, Lukovich will be responsible for driving membership growth and ensuring IRMA’s services reach the widest breadth of retailers in Illinois as the industry continues to expand and change.
Tanya Triche Dawood
Vice President and General Counsel
Tanya Triche Dawood joined the IRMA in 2008. Tanya directs the activities of the Chicago Retail Merchants Association where she advocates on behalf of the retail industry in Chicago’s City Hall and in front of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Tanya has been asked to serve on various government-related committees and task forces. In addition, she manages IRMA’s involvement in legal matters on behalf of its membership.
Prior to joining IRMA, Tanya worked as a staff attorney and legislative assistant for the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Finance, analyzing issues of revenue and public policy and working with community leaders and corporations to draft resolutions and municipal ordinances. Tanya is an Executive Committee Member of the Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women and a Board Member of the Chicago Women in Government Relations.
She earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan and is admitted to practice in Illinois and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Vice President, Energy Services
Brian Bowe joined IRMA in 2019 as the Vice President of Energy Services. IRMA has long worked with members on important energy legislation and continues to push for more efficient product development, pricing and contract transparency, and buying strategies for retailers across the state. Brian works directly with IRMA’s members on a number of these services including energy procurement, energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives, communication of important regulatory changes, and assisting with navigating both the regulated and deregulated environments in Illinois.
Prior to working at IRMA, Brian has worked in the energy industry for more than a decade including, most recently with Constellation New Energy, where he managed its government aggregation business efforts across Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Prior to CNE’s acquisition of Integrys Energy Services (IES), Brian held a number of positions with IES including serving as the company’s Director of Gas Operations, heading up a geographically diverse team of natural gas forecaster and schedulers.
Brian holds a BS in Managerial Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Manager, Government Affairs
Alec Laird joined IRMA in 2014 and serves as the Manager of Government Relations.
Prior to joining IRMA, Alec served as Senior Legal Counsel to the Illinois House Minority Leader. In addition to his legislative and government relations experience, Alec practiced employment and labor law in the private sector. This experience included counseling foreign entities seeking to establish a corporate presence in the U.S., as well as foreign investors and entrepreneurs pursuing start-up businesses in the U.S. and assisting domestic and international employers seeking to hire, transfer, or retain foreign employees to work inside the U.S.
Alec received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Memphis.
Manager, Member Relations
Alexia Cesarone joined IRMA in 2015 as Manager, Member Relations. Based in IRMA’s Chicago office she will develop and manage member programming and services.
Most recently, Cesarone served as Corporate Affairs Specialist for Northstar Lottery Group, LLC. specializing in community and stakeholder engagement. In 2014, she was recognized for designing and implementing a cause awareness pilot program in conjunction with the National Center for Responsible Gaming and the University of Chicago.
A native of Lemont, Illinois, Cesarone earned a Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. Cesarone lives in Geneva with her son and husband, Nick.