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 the IRMA staff in 1994, and coordinated IRMA’s government relations efforts. In 2012 he was named Executive Vice President and assumed the position of President & CEO on Jan. 1, 2014. Besides his work in state government relations and lobbying activities in Springfield, Rob also edited “This Week in Springfield,” IRMA’s journal of legislative activity in the State House. He has 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. 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.
Tanya Triche Dawood
Vice President and General Counsel
Tanya Triche Dawood joined the IRMA staff in 2008 and is based in IRMA’s downtown Chicago office. She 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. She also leads retail advocacy efforts alongside IRMA’s President & CEO in the Illinois State Capitol. 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.
Manager, Government Affairs
Alec Laird joined IRMA in 2014 as Manager Government Affairs out of IRMA’s Springfield office.
Most recently, he served as Senior Legal Counsel to the Illinois House Republican Leader where he researched and prepared legal memoranda, drafted, analyzed and tracked pending legislation, and counseled Representatives on House rules and procedures.
A native of Puryear, TN, Laird earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Tennessee and a law degree from the University of Memphis.
In 2011 he spent four months in the Illinois Legislative Studies Internship Program before taking a position as Staff Attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives in 2012.
Laird lives in Springfield with his wife, Lara.
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.
Manager, Membership Development
Chris Clark joined IRMA in 2015 as Manager, Membership Development where he seeks to enhance and expand IRMA’s membership base through strategic marketing and sales strategies.
Chris began his sales career in 2003 with First Data, the world’s largest merchant services company. Most recently, he was a Managing Member of Video Terminals of Chicago, LLC., a video gaming company positioned to install and service video poker and slot machines in bars and restaurants throughout the state, where he managed and developed the business.
A native of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Clark studied Political Science at Northern Illinois University.