Next Generation Class of 2017

Ambitious students from more than 35 NRF member schools competed to represent the next generation of retail leaders. The students below received travel scholarships to attend the Student Program at Retail’s BIG Show and the NRF Foundation Gala in New York City.

Retail executives from 20 companies selected 25 semi-finalists before narrowing the field to five finalists. The top recipient will be announced at the NRF Foundation Gala and receive a $25,000 scholarship; four finalists will each receive $10,000 scholarships. Meet the Next Generation Class of 2017 and read the press release.

Kaley Suero
Kaley Suero

University of Pennsylvania

Kaley Suero is a passionate learner, “a leader by nature who demonstrates a level of maturity beyond her years,” says Linda Shein, managing director of The Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center. Kaley initiated Wharton’s annual “retail innovation” trip to New York, and has gained experience in retail in Hong Kong, Italy and Tel Aviv as well as the United States. While spending the summer at Zenreach, Kaley contributed to the application of technology to change how retailers think about and track marketing spending. Her experience further solidified her interest in “playing an active role in the future of retail” and her decision to devote her career to being part of the industry’s technological evolution.

Runner Up

Makaela Hill

​Indiana University

Makaela Hill is “extremely self-motivated and has a strong desire to learn and contribute in a retail environment,” says Douglas Clark, VP of merchandise planning and allocation at DSW, where Makaela interned during the summer of 2016. After discovering that her love for clothing and intuition for business and innovation could be combined through a degree in Apparel Merchandising, Makaela dove head-first into the industry. Ultimately, she hopes to establish and lead “a company that specializes in utilizing 3D printing/innovative technology as a core part of creating goods or customer experiences.”

Makaela Hill


Jill Davis
Jill Davis

University of Georgia

Jill Davis discovered her calling for retail the summer before college when she began creating and selling recycled, handcrafted and vintage clothes and accessories on Etsy. An internship with Alex and Ani in Atlanta solidified Jill’s passion for sustainable practices in the retail industry. An incredibly driven and dedicated learner, Jill hopes to use her voice and education to increase efficiency efforts in high-end markets to make a lasting difference in the world of retail.

Margaret Kwon

The New School - Parsons School of Design

An aspiring fashion designer and entrepreneur, Margaret Kwon views the retail industry as the platform where design meets function and business. Margaret’s years of retail experience with DKNY and Kate Spade have shaped her holistic view of the industry, and she exhibits profound knowledge and appreciation of fashion theory, trends, consumer behavior and omnichannel customer experiences. By coupling creativity with aspirational leadership, Margaret aims to launch her own demi-couture range of womenswear that “challenges outdated fashion industry behaviors through strategic sourcing, production and sustainable quality.”

Margaret Kwon
Danielle Menella
Danielle Mennella

LIM College

After making the leap from a large state university to LIM College to pursue fashion studies, Danielle Mennella realized that retail would allow her to combine her strong math skills with a passion for fashion into a long-term career path in financial merchandise planning. Danielle’s applied retail experience spans varied brands including The Gap Inc., Giorgio Armani, Haddad Brands and Celine, all of which significantly developed her professional, organizational and learning agility skills. Danielle believes that “without risk, there is no reward,” and has been consistently pushing boundaries and taking the risks necessary to accomplish her goals and further her career.


A headshot of Crystal Paris, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Crystal Paris
Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta
A headshot of Sarah Botscheller, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Sarah Botscheller
Kent State University
A headshot of Elizabeth Dumont, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Elizabeth Dumont
Auburn University
A headshot of Ariana Frankel, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Ariana Frankel
Santa Clara University
A headshot of Leah Jenkins, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Leah Jenkins
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
A headshot of Savannah Kleiner, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Savannah Kleiner
Butler University
A headshot of Lisa Liu, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Lisa Liu
University of Pennsylvania
A headshot of Gabrielle Martinez, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Gabrielle Martinez
Mississippi State University
A headshot of Laura Martinez, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Laura Martinez
University of Alabama
A headshot of Brenna McKeown, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Brenna McKeown
University of Florida
A headshot of Alyssa McKinzie, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Alyssa McKinzie
Texas A&M University
A headshot of Megan Miller, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Megan Miller
Lasell College
A headshot of Traum-Anh Nguyen, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Traum-Anh Nguyen
Texas State University - San Marcos
A headshot of Hannah Patrick, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Hannah Patrick
Drexel University
A headshot of Samantha Pineda, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Samantha Pineda
University of Georgia
A headshot of Rita Roloff, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Rita Roloff
University of Wisonsin - Madison
A headshot of Brenna Schlauderaff, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Brenna Schlauderaff
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
A headshot of Victoria Shibly, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Victoria Shibly
Columbia College Chicago
A headshot of Christian Sopoco, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Christian Sopoco
Texas Women's University
A headshot of Matthew Talbot, a Next Generation 2017 finalist
Matthew Talbot
East Carolina Univeristy