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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-positioned 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 retail, 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 that have 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. Within IRMA’s membership, there is something for everyone.

Rob Karr

President and CEO

Rob has been with IRMA since 1994. He 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.

Alec Laird

Senior Vice President, Government Relations

Alec joined IRMA in 2014 and serves as Senior Vice President 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 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 of Arts in political science from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Memphis.

Michael K. Harris, Jr.

Manager, Government Relations

Michael joined IRMA in April 2024 as Manager of Government Relations. He has an extensive background in government relations, public administration, and community organizing. He accrued his professional experience as the co-founder and principal of Legacy Strategies and previously held positions with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the City of Chicago, and the United States House of Representatives. Michael is a former United Negro College Fund (UNCF) scholar and was conferred a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the historic Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. As IRMA’s government relations manager, Michael plays a crucial role in advancing the priorities of retailers at the Chicago City Hall and Cook County Board.

Brian Jordan

Executive Director, Illinois Food Council

Brian brings over 40 years of experience having joined IFRA in 1977 and served as President of IFRA since 1993. Brian was dedicated to the growth and profitability of locally owned and owner operated retail food stores, wholesalers and their suppliers and continues this commitment in his new role with IRMA’s Illinois Food Council. A native of Illinois, Brian and his wife, JoAnn, reside in Oak Lawn, Illinois where JoAnn is a pre-school teacher. They have one daughter who resides in Wisconsin and works as a teacher.

Dawn Durkin

Executive Assistant / IRMA Chicago Office Manager

Dawn comes to IRMA having filled that role, and so much more, at IFRA since 2006. Dawn and her husband, Earl, reside in Naperville and are the parents of two children - a daughter who just graduated with her master's degree and a son who is forever 19.

Brynne Murphy Scott

Executive Assistant, Government Relations

Brynne joined IRMA in 2020 and serves as Executive Assistant/Government Relations. Prior to IRMA, Brynne served in the fiscal office of the Illinois House of Representatives. Brynne and her husband, Jeff, reside in Springfield with their two children.

Sarah Shupenus

Executive Director, IRMA Foundation

Sarah brings a wealth of marketing experience to IRMA, having served for 24 years as a marketer and enrollment manager of higher education. As Executive Director of IRMA's Foundation, Sarah aims to bring awareness of the impact of retail throughout the state of Illinois and to promote and celebrate Illinois retail as a thriving and worthwhile career. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Xavier University and a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Composition from Ball State University. She and her wonder-dog reside in Monticello, Illinois.

Anne Matalonis

Director of Development

Anne Matalonis is the director of development with IRMA. She has over thirty years of executive leadership in strategic marketing and brand development with a passion for fostering growth through gratifying partner experiences. Anne’s primary responsibility at IRMA is to bridge businesses with our newly created Corporate Partner Program. The IRMA Corporate Partner program offers exclusive benefits for non-retail businesses to highlight their support of the retail industry and deliver valuable information and services for the betterment of IRMA’s membership. Anne is dedicated to building positive, impactful relationships with our partners through responsive, attentive, and focused service.

Johanna Moll

Marketing Manager

Johanna serves as IRMA's marketing manager and brings over thirteen years of experience in the field of marketing and communications.. In her role, Johanna oversees the development and execution of IRMA’s marketing strategies, organizational communications, and member engagement. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in media studies with minors in political science and communication, and received her master's degree in public administration from Penn State University. She resides in Springfield with her husband and two children.

Anne Sagins

Executive Director, Illinois Organized Retail Crime Association

Anne joined IRMA in 2024 as the executive director of the Illinois Organized Retail Crime Association (ILORCA). Prior to ILORCA, she worked for the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus for 31 years in several capacities, retiring as the personnel and fiscal manager. Anne graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in political science. She and her husband, Ken, live in Sherman and have three grown children.