The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is the only statewide organization exclusively representing retailers in Illinois.

What We Do

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association benefits Illinois retailing through effective management 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-positions to serve members with a single operation, those that represent a national chain, and everyone in between.

Retail Lobbyists

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.

Association Services

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.

Rob Karr

Rob Karr

President and CEO

Rob has been with IRMA since 1994, and was named Executive Vice President in 2012 and assumed the position of President and CEO in 2014. Rob has been appointed to numerous boards with entities such as the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Prior to joining IRMA, Rob was Associate Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers Association and a campaign aide in several statewide and congressional races. He is a graduate of Illinois State University, from which he received a degree in Political Science with a minor in history. Rob is a native of Chicago and is a long-time resident of Jacksonville where he and his wife, Lori, reside with their four children.

Tanya Triche Dawood

Tanya Triche Dawood

Vice President and General Counsel

Tanya joined IRMA in 2008, and directs the activities of the Chicago Retail Merchants Association, where she advocates on behalf of the retail industry in City Hall and the Cook County Board of Commissioners. In addition, Tanya 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. Tanya is an executive member of the Chicago Bar Association's Alliance for Women and a Board Member of Chicago Women in Government Relations. Tanya earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor's from the University of Michigan. Tanya is admitted to practice law in Illinois and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Alec Laird

Alec Laird

Vice President, Government Relations

Alec joined IRMA in 2014 and serves as the Vice President, Government Relations. Prior to 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 United States, as well as assisting domestic and international employers seeking to hire, transfer, or retain foreign employees to work in the United States. Alec holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Memphis.

Gary Lukovich

Gary Lukovich

Executive Vice President, Development

Gary joined IRMA in 2019 and is focused on driving membership growth and ensuring IRMA's services reach the widest breadth of retailers in Illinois. Prior to joining IRMA, Gary served as the corporate vice president for Homeowners Choice Insurance Company, where he orchestrated a company-wide plan to enter nine new state markets. In addition, he spent almost 30 years with State Farm Insurance as a corporate Vice President. An alumni of Wayne State University, Darden Business School (University of Virginia), Hillsdale College and Brookings Institute (Washington, D.C), Gary and his wife Susan reside in Barrington and enjoy spending time with their three grandchildren and participating in various church, charities and civic efforts.

Brian Bowe

Brian Bowe

Vice President, Energy Services

Brian joined IRMA in 2019 and works directly with IRMA's members on a number of energy services including procurement, sustainability initiatives, communication of regulatory changes, and assists with navigating both the regulated and deregulated environments in Illinois. Prior to IRMA, Brian worked in the energy industry for over a decade, most recently with Constellation New Energy, where he managed its government aggregation business efforts across Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio. Brian holds a Bachelor's of Science in Managerial Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Debbie Cole

Debbie Cole

Executive Assistant

Debbie joined IRMA in 1984 and serves as Executive Assistant/Government Affairs. Prior to IRMA, Debbie served in the research library of the Illinois Research Unit with the Illinois General Assembly. Debbie and her husband, Steve, reside in Springfield and enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren.