Spring 2020 Newsletter

Happy Summer!

       To our Partners, our Supporters, our Friends, our Students, our Alumni, our Colleagues, and everyone who has continued to be there for us, I want to start by saying thank you. Please know while we are working remotely we are here for you too. And please stay safe and healthy during this unprecedented time.
       I usually love working on the spring newsletter with my students. We get to recognize all the wonderful accomplishments and learnings of our graduating seniors. We look back at the value we've added to the education of all of our students. And we get to look forward to new initiatives that will keep us relevant in an ever changing society and economy.  Looking at the empty Memorial Union Chairs makes it a bit more difficult to stay focused on the hopefulness that our students always engender. There is much to be hopeful for...        
       Our graduating class is amazing. They are well prepared to lead and innovate. While the world will look different when they begin their careers we can all be confident that they will bring fresh ideas, outstanding skills and a passion to move forward. You will read in this newsletter much about their accomplishments. I sincerely hope we get a chance to say goodbye in person.
       Our program is robust and growing. Before the pandemic, the news was filled with reporting on the Retail Apocalypse. And yet our program grew and improved. Our partners continued to provide financial support, expertise, and opportunities. Our students understood that commerce will always be a foundation of our way of life. Our faculty and staff continued to evolve the curriculum to prepare our students to lead. And now in the midst of unbelievable challenges it is comforting to know that our students and alumni are ready to face the challenge.
       Our Curriculum and Offerings are evolving.  Thanks to your support and our increased enrollment, the School of Human Ecology was able to bring on some new faculty this year. These brilliant new scholars are helping us add capacity to our existing classes and develop new cutting-edge courses. Very soon we will be able to put an entire version or our degree program online. You will hear much more about this in the fall.

I know you will all join me in looking forward positively.
It won't be long until:


The Terrace is Full...                                                       Bascom Hill is Busy...


Classrooms are Energized...                                               and Jump Around is Back!

Thank you,

Jerry O'Brien
Executive Director
Kohl's Center for Retailing
School of Human Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Were you inspired by an instructor, participated in a case competition, traveled to a conference, had in internship, engaged with the Student Retail Association, or discovered a new path in the retailing industry?
The annual fund supports student life and learning experiences- from scholarships to small-group mentoring to career counseling, the fund provides vital and and immediate support to take advantage of "just in time" opportunities for students. 

When you give to the SoHE annual fund you are a part of something bigger than ever imagined- you are joining a community of Badgers just like you who say  yes, I believe in the School of Human Ecology and I cant wait to see what the next generation can do! 

UW's School of Human Ecology Retailing and Consumer Behavior major is celebrating our largest graduating class in history for Spring 2020! 

Congratulations to all of our graduates! We are proud to assist in helping students pursue careers in retail. As the industry expands, so does UW's Retailing program, UW Students are the Future of the Retail Industry! 

Spotlight: Graduating Seniors

Emma Brandenburg 
Senior, Retailing & Consumer Behavior, Certificates in Entrepreneurship, Business & Digital Studies

"The Retailing and Consumer Behavior program has provided me with the opportunities to lead, learn, and grow as a student, colleague, and professional. I could not be more grateful for the experience that I have had both in an academic setting, as well as in a professional setting working for the Center for Retailing. Moving forward into the next chapter of my life, I feel prepared to succeed in my career and positively influence those around me. "

Leadership experiences: Student Retail Association President & Event Coordinator, Center for Retailing Case Competition Coordinator,
Awards/Merits: YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Recipient, National Retail Federation Rising Star Scholar, NRF Student Ambassador, School of Human Ecology Ginsberg Award Recipient 

Post-graduation plans: Abercrombie & Fitch Merchandising Leadership Development Training Program 

My advice to students: Within the retailing industry today, there is a strong need for young professionals to inspire and lead teams and organizations to consider operating for people, planet, and profit. The future of our industry requires both professional knowledge and passion for the betterment of the world around us. Take advantage of the student organizations, extracurricular projects, and professional/social events that intersect with both your career aspirations and personal passions. It will give you purpose in your education and development, while also providing you with the skills needed to succeed after graduation! 

As a student, don't hesitate to: Make connections with SoHE faculty, peers, and anyone else you might meet within the RCB program! This is such a meaningful network both personally and professionally. 

Morgan Rahe
Senior, Retailing & Consumer Behavior, Certificates in Business and Entrepreneurship

"The School of Human Ecology helped me become the person I am today due to the incredible faculty. I have made lifelong mentors and friends with students, professors, and advisors through SoHE. In my hardest moments in college I picked myself up and walked to Linden Drive and SoHE was there for me. I am forever grateful."

Leadership experiences: Events Coordinator for the Student Retail Association
Post-graduation plans: Full-Time Rotational Development Program with H&M working in e-commerce and merchandising

My advice to students: Take advantage of every opportunity in college! Study abroad, go to club meetings, and always say YES.

As a student, don't hesitate to: Reach for the impossible. You are worthy of your dream job. 

Spring 2020 RCB Graduating Class
Although this semester was cut short, we are so proud to honor all 122 Retailing and Consumer Behavior graduates for Spring 2020, our largest graduating class ever!

Andersen, Elise Rose
Arndt, Anna Patricia
Baker, Hannah Marie
Bartaczewicz, Brooke Ann
Bauman, Emily Margaret
Boldt, Bailey Autumn
Bonnema, Carolyn Margaret
Bradshaw, Tucker Wheeler
Brandenburg, Emma Jo
Busiel, Kasey Renae
Carlson, Alexander Mac
Carlson, Jaylin 
Caudle, Taylor Eve
Cohen, Benjamin
Coughlin, Kathleen Margaret
Davies, Janelle Christina
Dokken, Arin Dianna
Dorfman, Georgia Faith
Duddleston, Ashtyn
Durlacher, Colin
Fan, Katie 
Faversham, Truman Mott
Figy, Savannah Lynn
Fleming, Danielle Taylor
Foley, Molly Mari
Fortman, Nolan Wyatt
Freeman, Alexis Keating
Gallagher, Celia Rose
Galle, Grace Margaret
Gilmore, Samantha Lynn
Goddard, Lauren Lillian
Gomez-Kalidindi, Savina 
Goodwin, Elizabeth H
Gordon, Anesha S
Hackworthy, Tess 
Hamm, Amanda Jo
Hansen, Victoria Vodoz
Hartwig, Allison Elizabeth
Harvey, Lindsey Marie

Hedley, Christopher
Heinsch, Jack Lawrence
Hermes, Payton McCloskey
Herrmann, Mikaela Drew
Hess, Abigail Elizabeth
Hilker, Nicole Lynn
Klopstein, Hailey Lynn
Kohnke, Madison Rose
Kroseberg, Emily Marie
Kulju, Benjamin M
Kupsky, Jenna
Lanzkowsky, Carly
Lasoff, Emily
Lee, Uriel Crystal
Leonard, Angelina Elaine Christine
Levy, Leah Kate
Lombardo, Stephanie 
Lustig, Leah Teresa
Machgan, Maria Claire
Mackinnon, Catherine Elizabeth
Mandarano, Maggie 
Marchese, Mallory Elizabeth
Marshall, Lukas Brooks
Martin, Ellie Rose
Matchette, Haley
Mcginley, Elena Jane
Medved, Gabrielle Elise
Miller, Marissa Diane
Nabi, Sophia Madison
Nadeem, Nimra
Nemerow, Ilana Paige
Newton, Nia Louise Le
Pappas, Emily Jean
Patzke, Raven 
Pellegrino, Brendan Joseph
Pesch, Brighid Horan
Philips, Danielle Jennifer
Rahe, Morgan Danielle
Ramanculova, Aida
Randall, Ashley
Renner, Andrew Donald
Rhoten, Collin Charles
Ringhand, Casandra Ashley
Robertson, Emma Lee
Salzman, Jacob Ryan
Schmitz, Greta Virginia
Schumacher, Darby John
Schuman, Eliza Jayne
Scott, Cara Joanne
Serota, Alexandra 
Shohoney, Reed Patrick
Slavin, Katie Rae
Smith, Michelle Renee
Spencer, Maggie Suzanne
Statz, Casey Jo
Steib, Kathryn Elizabeth
Tang, Wai Ying
Tarnow, Hannah 
Underwood, Dylan Mark
Utley, Elizabeth Ann
Vondrak, Sofia
Wagner, Kendra Laverne
Weimar, Mariah Therese
Whitcomb, Julia Lynn
Wollner, Geordon 
Yu, Tim
Zahm, Arcadia Grey
Zander, Gabrielle A
Zecca, Samantha Nicole
Zeidan, Jasmine Khaled
Zimmerly, Jordan Taylor


Distinguished Award Winners:

Ginsberg Family Award
Emma Brandenburg
Senior: Retailing & Consumer Behavior, Certificates in Entrepreneurship, Business & Digital Studies

In 2018, the Ginsberg family took on the award in an effort to continue to recognize the impact of outstanding student leaders on the broader campus community. Created in honor 
of the late Dean of Students Paul Ginsberg (Dean of Students from 1970 - 1987), the Ginsberg Family Awards continue today in an effort to recognize and honor Paul's commitment to enhancing the student experience throughout his time as dean. Each year, 25 undergraduate juniors and seniors across campus are recognized for their contributions in the areas of leadership, service, and scholarship. The awards are distributed by 24 campus units, demonstrating the broad-reaching impact these student leaders have had across the UW-Madison campus and community.

Congratulations, Emma!
Outstanding Retailing & Consumer Behavior Graduate
*Rosalie Amlie Morton Award
Katie Steib
Senior: Retailing & Consumer Behavior, Certificates in Entrepreneurship, Business & Digital Studies

The Rosalie Amlie Morton Awards were established to recognize outstanding graduating seniors in each of the four departments in the School of Human Ecology (Civil Society & Community Studies, Consumer Science, Design Studies, and Human Development & Family Studies). Students are considered on the basis of their academic achievement, leadership, community involvement, and personal accomplishments. 

Congratulations, Katie!

Connect with Emma and Katie on LinkedIn!

Alumni Spotlight Advice Panel
Featuring Alumni:

    Katelynn Johnson         Randi Armstrong                Mel Smith              Elizabeth Wanzer            Mackenna Bogan          Maggie Kucera
    Divisional Planner           Assistant Buyer     Early Talent Team Lead     Assistant Buyer      Asst. Product Developer    Product Developer
             Kohl's                   Burlington Stores                  Kohl's               Blain's Farm & Fleet              Nordstrom                   Nordstrom

What is your favorite part about the retail industry and/or your career?
"We are constantly adapting to the ever changing needs of the customer. The customer is at the epicenter of every decision we make. I think it is so cool that big and small companies alike are working outside of their comfort zone to make their retail experience exactly what the customer wants." - MB

"I love that through conscious business choices and creative storytelling, our industry can inform customers on how to be a more conscious consumer. Likewise, conscious consumers can push companies to make their respective business more sustainable and ethical by using their purchasing power to send a message." - RA

"I love the global aspect of retail -  decisions  we make day to day connect us to individuals globally and have impacts worldwide." - MK

What was your favorite part of the Retailing and Consumer Behavior Program at UW?
"When you are in the bubble of UW, you may not realize how lucky you are to have the opportunities given to you. Now that I have left UW, and met peers and leaders from other universities, it is even more apparent how lucky we are to be exposed to the one-of-a-kind opportunities UW offers. If you are a student that is involved in the program, going to events, being apart of SRA, and making connections with peers, teachers, and professionals, there is no dream you cannot reach." - MB

"The experiences that we were able to participate in outside of the classroom. In my four years at UW I was able to participate in several case competitions, attend the NRF Student Program in New York, travel to China to learn more about how products are sourced and produced, and meet a number of industry professionals who were wonderful mentors throughout my college career." - MS
"The amazing insight and guidance from those who support the program at UW! The staff impressed me while I was a student, but they have continued to be important in my career path and have remained some of my best mentors. They truly care about the students who go through this program!" - MK

How do you see the retail industry responding to the effects of the pandemic? 
"The emphasis of quality over brand and contemporary over designer is predicted to be seen across the board. This could also relate to the potential of a time where materialism simmers down for a beat or two. Consumers have had a lot of time to think about what really matters to them." - RA

"You'll see more retailers create the omni-channel experience more than ever to make shopping different than it has been in the past. I believe more retailers will roll out the buy-online-drive-up service to their stores, so customers don't have to go in the store but rather wait for things to be delivered." - EW

What advice can you give to the graduating class of 2020?
"Don't get too caught up with what other people are doing. Work hard, build relationships, and be open to new challenges. The rest will fall into place!" - MS

"Stay resilient. S ocial networking is not cancelled! Get on LinkedIn and interact with companies whom you would like to work for. If they are doing something inspiring during this time, let them know. Do you admire any particular industry leaders for their work during this time? If yes, TELL THEM! Send a personal message and express how you admire their current work or strong display of values." - RA

"Embrace everything your first job teaches you and brings you. Leverage your network. The saying of not what you know, but who you know is true. Your first job might not be the pay or the responsibilities you hoped for, but you have to start small when building a dream. Lastly, your career won't define you as a person; make sure you continuously make time for things that do define you like family, friends, hobbies, etc." - EW

"Everyone is in this together. Stay connected to peers, teachers, and professionals you have met throughout college. It may be intimidating to reach out and ask how people are doing, but the industry is MUCH smaller than you think and the more people you know, the easier it is to achieve your dreams (and handle a global pandemic)." - MB

"Now is a time more than ever when people are open to new ways of thinking.  Starting a career at this unprecedented time in history is a great opportunity for new graduates to share their innovative and fresh approaches.  You are equipped with a solid foundation with your education from UW and will be able to make a great impact wherever your next chapter leads.  Stay curious and push the boundaries--best of luck!" - KJ

"Have an open mind as you enter into your professional life! You may think you have a path planned out, but you will definitely surprise yourself over the next few years. Pay attention to what makes you happy in your career and what  doesn't ....it may give you some hints to what is next in your career path. Also - build meaningful relationships and find mentors!! People make work much more enjoyable than the work itself and you will learn so much more from other humans than from the day to day work you are doing." - MK

We are so thankful for the involvement of ALL of our talented and enthusiastic Wisconsin alumni!

Alumni Athlete Spotlight:
Featuring: Badger Linebacker  Alumni Zack Baun!

December 2019 Retailing and Consumer Behavior graduate,                          Professor Nancy Murray and Zack Baun!
Zack Baun, #56 was team captain for the UW Badger Football
team 2019 season.  He led the team and ranked second in 
Big Ten with 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks 
(ranking second among Power Five conference 
linebackers in both categories). He also recorded 10 quarterback 
hurries and tallied 76 total tackles. A Butkus Award finalist, 
Baun's senior season earned him consensus first-team 
All-America honors, becoming the first linebacker 
in school history to earn that distinction. 

Baun was honored at the Big Red Rally on February 6 at 
Hilton City Center in Milwaukee, with the Lloyd Larson Award.  
His professor, Dr. Nancy Murray, was asked to provide commentary 
about him as a student and his character at the banquet 
along with assistant coach, Jim Leonhard.  

Baun was recently in the 2020 NFL draft and was selected by the 
New Orleans Saints in the 3rd round as the 74th pick.  

New York Industry Trip and NRF Student Program
January 2020 | New York City, NY

Early this year, a group of 45 UW-Madison students from the Student Retail Association experienced the retail industry in NYC!

This trip provided UW students with the opportunity to visit multiple brand offices throughout New York City during our first few days of the trip. These visits included Vince, Ralph Lauren, Trunk Club, Nordstrom Men's, Amazon, Burlington, Macy's, Kohl's and Footlocker. The students attended the two day NRF Student Program, and had designated time to explore NYC theater, restaurants and other attractions!

UW also had more than 10 students represented at the YMA FSF Gala or the NRF Gala on Scholarship. These students had extra networking opportunities earned from being finalists in case studies. 

Connect with Maddy on LinkedIn!

Student Perspective: Maddy Braun
Junior, Retailing and Consumer Behavior

"This year was my first time joining SRA and first time attending the New York trip. I am so beyond thankful for the experiences and opportunities that SRA has afforded me and I feel even more confident that I am pursuing the degree that I am passionate about after attending this New York trip."

Maddy is now serving as the NRF Student Ambassador for the University of Wisconsin! We in the Center for Retailing are so proud of her work and her representation of the retail program!

Student Perspective: Brynn Colwell
Freshman, Retailing and Consumer Behavior

"This year I attended my first Student Retail Association New York Trip and I could not have felt more welcomed and valued! I gained so much professional experience that, as a freshman, I could not have gotten without the opportunity of this trip! I am so thankful to all the members of SRA, who put together this trip for connecting us with industry leaders and influential brands. The conference is an exceptional showing of the success of the retail industry, and being invited to attend as an undergraduate student was such a privilege!"

National Retail Federation 
UW-Madison Team Excels in Student Challenge Competition 

E ve ry fall UW-Madison Students with a passion for retail have the chance to compete in the NRF Student Challenge.  The NRF Foundation Student Challenge isn't your average business case competition. It puts you and your team in a boardroom in New York City, pitching your business ideas for an iconic brand to a room full of the biggest names in the retail business. Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country, and priceless career opportunities.

Students acted as members of the product development team at Akola, a growing, innovative jewelry brand employing women in crisis in Uganda and Dallas, Texas. They were tasked to select a retailer, develop a jewelry line and create a pitch deck to present to buyers at their selected retailer. Teams of students nation-wide created a maximum 30-slide pitch presentation deck and 90-second video presentation to convince the company of why and how their Akola product line should be brought to market. 

UW Madison Students, Danielle Talatian, Diana Xiong, Annie Brennan and Leah Levy,  placed 2nd in the 2020 NRF Student Challenge Competition with their project of 'Tory Burch X Akola'. They were featured at the NRF Annual Honors Gala.


Every year the Center enjoys advising teams entered in this competition, and we are so very proud of how innovative and hardworking this year's teams were. 

To read more about the 2020 Prompt and NRF Student Challenge click  here. 

Fashion Scholarship Fund
Six UW Students Won $5,000 and One Won $10,000

This January, students and faculty (Jerry O'Brien & Holly Easland) celebrated the future of the fashion industry at the annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Gala in New York City.

At the gala, UW-Madison students were honored for their exemplary work in the  Fashion Scholarship Fund case study that addressed a partnership opportunity between a retailer and a non-fashion brand or program:
  • Sarah Richmond, Senior, Supply Chain
  • Alissa Donovan, Senior, Design/Product Development
  • Emma Brandenburg, Senior, Merchandising/Marketing

  • Elizabeth Utley, Senior, Merchandising/Marketing 
  • Erin Schaut, Junior, Design/Product Development
  • Katherine Eberley, Senior, Design/Product Development
  • Megan Russell, Junior, Merchandising/Marketing  

L'Oreal Brandstorm Case Competition
UW-Madison Team Excels in International Student Case Competition - Top 10 Teams in the USA

The mission of the 2020 L'Oreal Brandstorm is to build a plastic-less future in the beauty industry. Student teams were instructed to create an innovation that reduces or eliminates the use of plastic by inventing new circular business solutions, and by changing middle-class consumer behavior. 

Our UW Madison team found out about the case competition by researching case competitions online, and later hearing more about it again through Student Retail Association. 

The team represented the University of Wisconsin as one of the top ten teams in the United States, and competed in the USA National Finals this May. This is L'Oreal's most competitive Brandstorm in history!

Meet the L'Oreal Brandstorm Team!


  1. Alissa Moulster: "I am a junior at University of Wisconsin-Madison. I'm majoring in Economics and hope to someday have a career in investment banking."
  2. Kendall Casper: "I am a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Operations & Technology Management and Information Systems. With this, I hope to enter a career as a Supply Chain Planning Analyst."
  3. Raven Patzke: "I am a senior at University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Retailing & Consumer Behavior with certificates in Digital Studies and Entrepreneurship. I plan on utilizing these skills to become a Marketing Specialist in the retail or travel industry post-graduation."

Retail Leadership Symposium
Spring Semester 2020

Through the Retail Leadership Symposium, students interact directly with professionals who have hands on experience in various areas of the retail industry. Guest speakers have offered students advice on how to succeed in the retail industry and answered questions about different career paths. Through this class, students have been exposed to buying and merchandising roles, fair trade organizations, and entrepreneurship stories. This class has proven to be beneficial to not only students, but speakers as well. Speakers are able to connect with the next generation of consumers and future professionals.

Students have learned through this class that building your professional network is essential in any industry so we would like to say thank you to the professionals that have volunteered their time in the Retail Leadership Symposium:

Mel Smith:  Early Talent Team, Kohl's
Jane Blain Gilbertson: President and Owner of Blain's Farm and Fleet
Karalyn Smith: Chief Talent Officer, Williams Sonoma
Samantha Mitchnick:  College Relations, Ross
Chad Brown: Chief Financial Officer, Trek Bikes.

Students networking with Karalyn Smith, Chief Talent Officer at William Sonoma. Karalyn is also an alumni of UW!

Student Perspective: Ben Brandenburg
Sophomore, Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Connect with Ben on LinkedIn!

"During my semester in Retail Leadership Symposium, I was introduced to the world of retail in a fresh, exciting way. I really gained an appreciation for the people that took time out of their busy schedules to share their knowledge and experiences with the class. It was the perfect setting to make connections with leaders that have the ability to enhance my career aspirations!"

Thank you again to all of the individuals and organizations. Your presence on campus and in the classroom benefit our program, and most importantly, our students and their futures in the retail industry.
You are what makes our program great!

UW Threads Virtual Design and Fashion Event
The Threads Fashion Show is an annual showcase of student work from the  Textiles and Fashion Design Program . Produced by students across the UW campus, the event includes fashion, music, lights, performance and runway to highlight contemporary design.

This year's Threads Fashion Show was repurposed into a virtual event in order to still celebrate and engage the Textiles and Fashion Design Program and supporters, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students involved with the Student Retail Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are at the forefront of industry, networking and engaging the local community. Students of all majors with a variety retail sector interest fuel this organization with 150+ active members. Email sramadison1@gmail.com to setup a student info session or collaboration for our annual Minneapolis (Nov.), Chicago (March) or NYC (Jan.) Industry trips.

SRA took 45 members to NYC for the NRF Student Program!
Land's End joined us for the first SRA Spring 2020 monthly meeting!
SRA VP of Membership, Lizzie Utley lead an outstanding member mentorship program this semester!

SRA hosts a variety of industry trips that involve social events and member networking while exploring great cities!

Connect with the Student Retail Association on Facebook to stay informed on the latest news and events. 


Also, expand your network by connecting with th e Badgers in Retail group on LinkedIn!



Kohl's Center for Retailing