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.


Jim Sheer

V.P. of Gov't. 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.


Diana Cardona

Senior Director of Operations

Diana joined TRA in May of 2015, and has 9 years of experience managing non-profit association membership and finances. She has the great ability of streamlining and establishing efficient processes to achieve strategic goals for increasing membership, and achieving financial stability. She received the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) in 2017 and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hispanic Studies/Business Management from the University of Texas in Austin.

Prior to TRA, Diana served as the Membership Coordinator for the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. Her tenure at SFFMA brought about the development of an international certification program still growing today.


Justin Williamson

Director of Marketing & Communications

Justin currently serves as the Business Development Manager for the Texas Retailer’s Association (TRA), a position he has held since April 2017. Prior to joining the TRA, Justin served as the Director of Communications and Spokesperson for the Texas State Rifle Association, the state’s largest and oldest 2nd Amendment organization. 

Before working for non-profit associations, Justin served as an Account Executive for an award-winning digital firm and as the Digital Strategist for the highly successful Proposition 1 (2014) and Proposition 7 (2015) ballot propositions. He attended Southwestern University, where he majored in Political Science.

Joe Williams

Consultant | Grocer Issues and TREF

Louie Carr

Social Media & Marketing Consultant

David Bernard

Website & Graphic Design Consultant

Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Amber Gustafson Chair Amber’s Designs
Luke Gustafson Vice Chair Brookshire Brothers
Kathryn Sharp Treasurer Stage Stores
Kellie Duhr-Gonzales Secretary Wal-Mart
Jason Cooper Immediate Past Chair Brookshire Grocery Company
Jay Bueche Texas Federation of Drug Stores Rep H.E.B.
Susan Sessions Member at Large Academy Sports & Outdoors
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 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
Opio Dupree Director Macy’s

TRA Directors (term ending 2020)

Steve Bercu Director BookPeople
Mark Daniels Director Novolex
Mike Hiltner Director Best Buy
Susan Sessions Director Academy
Michael Smith Director Walgreens
Tony Wood Director Baywood Foods
Kathy Mitchell Director PetsMart