Staff Bios

George Kelemen

President | CEO

George Kelemen joined TRA as President and CEO in November of 2015. He returned to Texas after 11 years in Washington, DC, working in senior leadership positions for several of the largest and most influential associations in America. Most recently, George served as the Senior VP of Government and Political Affairs at Airports Council International — North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial airports in the U.S. and Canada. He served as ACI-NA’s chief lobbyist and led the development strategies to influence congressional and legislative actions affecting airports and the aviation industry, particularly ACI-NA’s work with Congress’ leadership.

Prior to joining ACI-NA, George served as the Senior Director for External Affairs at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the Cancer Society’s lobbying arm in Washington, DC. George cultivated, developed and maintained corporate relationships, as well as coordinated outreach to members of Congress, specifically Congressional Republicans. He also spent 10 years at AARP in various government relations and advocacy leadership capacities at federal and state level.

 Originally from Houston, George began his career working in Texas, in various political and government affairs roles, as well as in state government, in the gubernatorial administration of George W. Bush.  He has a comprehensive understanding of the legislative and regulatory processes and landscapes at both the federal and state levels, as well as a network of bipartisan contacts and relationships in Austin, Washington, and across the US.

 George has a proven ability to effectively communicate with internal and external audiences alike, as well as with decision and policy makers, in addition to native fluency in Spanish. George earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Houston. He lives in Austin with his wife and two children.

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Jim Sheer

Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs

Jim Sheer serves as TRA’s Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs. In this role, he leads our ongoing lobbying and advocacy efforts along with overseeing TRA’s political operations and PAC activities.  Jim’s regulatory expertise includes providing oversight of legislative implementation efforts with state agencies and ongoing regulatory assistance for TRA members. His proven track record and in depth knowledge of the legislative process and agency operations is vital to TRA’s success in the Capitol and in his personal service to our membership.   

 

Prior to joining TRA, Jim served as Chief of Staff in both the Texas Senate and House of Representatives, Deputy Division Chief for Government Relations for the Texas Attorney General, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and as the Financial Administrator for the largest PAC in Texas.

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Diana Cardona

Director of Administration

Diana Cardona joined TRA in May of 2015, she grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, where she graduated from Weslaco East High School and then moved to Austin, Texas to attend the University of Texas in Austin. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies and a minor in Business Management. She speaks fluent Spanish and is originally from Monterrey, Mexico.

 

Prior to TRA, Diana Cardona served as the Membership Coordinator for the State Firefighters and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas for 7 years, where her responsibilities were expanding membership, development through social media and print campaigns, as well as online membership engagement for over 20,000 members. Her tenure at SFFMA brought about changes to the procedures for processing membership, development of the international firefighter certification program, and the translation of the Texas Firefighter Certification program to Spanish still in use today.

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Lauren Swetland

Business Development Manager

Lauren joined TRA in July of 2016, and has ten years of experience managing nonprofit associations. She has a proven track record of leveraging resources to ensure that nonprofits achieve their strategic goals for increased membership, financial stability, and successful annual conferences.  

 

Prior to TRA, she was Vice President of an association management company where she managed more than fifteen different local, state and national associations.  Within this position she was also the Assistant Executive Director of the Science Teachers Association of Texas where her meeting planning strategies led to a national award for convention growth. She received the designation of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) in 2010 and earned the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) in 2013. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She is originally from Sugar Land, Texas but has resided in Austin since 2001 and considers herself a proud Austinite.

Joe Williams

Consultant | Grocer Issues and TREF

Jennifer Storm

Consultant TRA | TFDS

Louie Carr

Social Media & Marketing Consultant

David Bernard

Website & Graphic Design Consultant

Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Amber Gustafson Chair Amber’s Designs
Paul Imbrone Vice Chair Macy’s
Kathryn Sharp Treasurer Stage Stores
Luke Gustafson Secretary Brookshire Brothers
Jason Cooper Immediate Past Chair Brookshire Grocery Company
Jay Bueche Texas Federation of Drug Stores Rep H.E.B.
Kellie Duhr-Gonzales Member at Large/TREF Chair Wal-Mart
Theresa Flores Member at Large/TRAPAC Chair Mary Kay
Chuck Bell Small Retailer Rep. Bracken Textiles/Clothes Mentor
Kathy Sweidel-Caton Texas Food Council Chair Lewis Food Town

TRA Directors (term ending 2017)

Steve Bercu Director BookPeople
Mark Daniels Director Novolex
Mike Hiltner Director Best Buy
Suz Ann Kirby Director United Supermarkets
Bruce Levy Director Rice Epicurean Markets
Susan Sessions Director Academy
Michael Smith Director Walgreens
Tony Wood Director Baywood Foods
Kathy Mitchell Director PetsMart

TRA Directors (term ending 2018)

Matt Benedetti Director The Home Depot
Michael Diamond Director Scott’s Miracle Grow
Kristina King Director Sears
Leslie Lockett-Sweet Director HEB
Jay Plotkin Director Suitmart
Ray Pohlman Director Autozone
John Raney Director Texas Aggieland Bookstore
Ron Rehkopf/Michael Walker Director Rehkopf Enterprises
Jack Tracy Director Ziegler’s Foods
John Vuong Director Pyburn’s
Joy Partain Director Kroger Company

TRA Directors (term ending 2019)

Jeff Mooney Director Dollar General
Charles Canton Director Goodwill Industries Houston
Carrol Cox Director Cox’s
Lupe de la Cruz Director Pepsico
Arnold Grothues Director JC Penney
Leigh Ann Hernandez Director Neiman-Marcus
Mike Lewis Director Lewis Food Town
Jason Madden Director Target
Meredith Preloh Director Lowe’s
Kathryn Sharp Director Stage Stores
Rex Solomon Director Houston Jewelers
Kelli Hollinger Director Texas A&M Center for Retail Studies