Director, D+I Studio | University of Chicago
Maris is an experienced user researcher, strategist and team leader with over 15 years of demonstrated impact in human-centered design and social innovation. She helps leaders reframe what they know—and uncover what they don't know—so they can prioritize where to focus their efforts, develop strategies and work towards transformative change.
Maris is currently the Director of the D+I Studio at the University of Chicago. Using design methods, she coaches directors of offices and initiatives in making the campus more inclusive and improving experiences for marginalized students, staff and faculty members.
Prior to UChicago, her strong commitment to social innovation led her to Greater Good Studio, where she guided clients in education, affordable housing, healthcare and the arts through engagements aimed at increasing equity by changing people's mindsets, behaviors and conditions.
This work built upon her experience at Gravitytank, an innovation consulting firm where she led multidisciplinary teams in collaborations with retailers, manufacturers, foundations and nonprofits. From rethinking the furniture strategy with Target to teacher feedback systems with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she worked with her clients to understand users and redefine product, learning and service experiences.
Maris taught Research Methods at the School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC) and received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied architecture and psychology. She is a board member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), and a former volunteer trip leader for Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program. She can't wait to get back to traveling around the world with
Principal XM Scientist – Product Experience | Qualtrics
Karen brings over 25 years of experience in B2C and B2B research, cultivating deep experience in Innovation research methods and tools.
Prior to joining Qualtrics, she worked with Fortune 100, Fortune 500, as well as smaller firms, while at GfK and Synovate. At GfK, she led the Financial Services Innovation team, working within the Banking, Insurance, Payments, Investment, and FinTech markets.
Before working in custom research, Karen worked with many top tier CPG food and beverage manufacturers at The NPD Group’s National Eating Trends and at Information Resources. Her last position at IRI was in the Analytic Insights Group, where she was responsible for the design and analysis of in-market testing studies, as well as modeling and advanced Panel analyses.
Karen received he BA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MBA from Loyola university in Chicago.
Vice President Of Merchandising – Consumables | Petco
As Vice President of Merchandising, Shari is responsible for the leading the omni-channel product assortment, pricing and merchandising strategy for Petco’s Dog and Cat Food, Treats and Litter categories. She is incredibly excited to be a part of the Petco team that is transforming the pet industry by providing better nutrition for pets.
Shari has spent more than 20 years in consumer products and retail, with a focus on understanding the needs of consumers in order to deliver great products and a great experience. Prior to joining Petco, Shari held several category and merchandising leadership roles at Target Corp., held a sales leadership role at Perrigo (leading manufacturer of private label over-the-counter drugs and baby formula), and led global brand strategy and product development initiatives at Unilever. Shari began her career working in quantitative syndicated data analytics for Information Resources, Inc., onsite at Frito-Lay. Throughout her career, she has had the great fortune of managing businesses across many, diverse categories – hair care, fashion bedding, school supplies, cards & party, health and beauty, healthcare products & baby formula, and now pet products!
Shari has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. After spending most of her life in the Midwest, she’s thrilled to be living in sunny San Diego with her husband, two sons and her black lab, Camden.
Founder | Anji Mountain
After decades spent working in retail merchandising, purchasing and resourcing product from countries throughout the world for regional, national and international retailers and manufacturers, Darryl sought to venture out on his own in the mid-2000’s to create natural products that were unique and environmentally friendly in their materials and founded Anji Mountain. He focused on building relationships with factories that were ethical in their manufacturing and business practices as well as the standards that they abided by in caring for their employees.
Professionally, Darryl is most proud of the employees that make up the Anji Mountain organization and that the next generation of family has so successfully taken over the reigns of the company.
Darryl served in the military in the late 1960’s and received a B.S. from the University of Missouri. He is happily retired and enjoys biking, traveling and spending time with his family.