Join your food industry colleagues for three days of advanced learning sessions, pre-scheduled business appointments and the opportunity to reconnect with your peers through relaxed social occasions. Together we will celebrate the strengths of our collective efforts this past year, share key learnings from the recent challenges, and turn our focus to the new strategies for the California grocery industry.


Sunday, September 26, 2021

8:00 AM - 2:00 PM


What better way to spend Sunday morning than playing one of Palm Springs’ most notable destination courses? Take a swing at one of the generous tee prizes and enjoy lunch, refreshments, and on-course contests, hosted by The Illuminators. All proceeds benefit The Illuminators Educational Foundation and Scholarship Program.

8:00 AM - 7:00 PM


Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The Opening Experience

Sponsored by Instacart
The CGA Strategic Conference kicks off with its signature Opening Experience that has been moved to the spacious Palm Springs Convention Center ballroom. Come, spread out and enjoy this must-attend start that is guaranteed to provide you with inspiration for the rest of the conference. Don’t miss it!

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Opening Reception

Sponsored by E. & J. Gallo Winery

Hosts CA GROWN and E & J Gallo Wines welcome members of California’s diverse grocery industry to the CGA Strategic Conference Opening Reception to reconnect with colleagues and network while enjoying food and wines from the Golden State. Food personalities Aida Mollenkamp (Food Network, Salt & Wind) and Kate Ramos (Hola Jalapeno) will be on hand to demonstrate how to create some of the evening’s appetizers and how to pair them with wines. Don’t miss the fun!

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

After Hours Social

Sponsored by MolsonCoors

Sunday evening’s networking heads outdoors at the After Hours Social.  Retire to the picturesque setting of the Renaissance Palm Springs Resort pool for this casual after-hours mixer.

Monday, September 27, 2021

6:30 am - 5:00 pm

Conference Registration Open

Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

6:30 am - 8:00 am


7:15 am - 8:15 am

Whiteboard Sessions

Sponsored by RMS, Inc.
To the drawing board! These loose, free-flowing sessions are designed to get the conversations flowing. In two, energizing 30-minute sessions facilitated by industry veterans, the discussions allow you to learn, share and contribute to industry best practices. Bring your insights, experience, questions and energy and participate in your choice of two topics organized by area of industry interest.

8:30 am - 10:30 am

Opening Remarks and Conference General Session

CGA’s signature General Session features state-of-the-industry addresses from CGA President & CEO Ronald Fong, CGA Board Chair Hee-Sook Nelson, Phil Miller, Immediate Past Chair and The Illuminators Headlite Juan Trillas. Their remarks will be followed by the conference General Session presentation.

Learn More

10:30 am - 5:30 pm

Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

Provided by The Illuminators

11:30 am - 1:00 pm


Provided by The Illuminators

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Enterprise Risk Protection Executive Summit (Day 1)

Sponsored by RMS, Inc.
Loss prevention, safety and risk management professionals attending the CGA Strategic Conference gather for customized educational track featuring a schedule of presentations on emerging issues such as shrink & fraud, technology & cybercrime, and employee safety best practices.

“Looking Through the Curve, Day 1” – Matt Hilbrink, Raley’s

“State of Play – Legislative Update” – Tim James, California Grocers Association

Roundtable Forum – “What’s Keeping You Up At Night” – Lynn Melillo, ARM, Bristol Farms

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Mai Tais Without Ties

Wind down from a productive day by joining your colleagues for a relaxing, tropical-inspired reception and always entertaining Illuminators Special Event. CGA Board members and Illuminator Officers will be working for your tips to benefit industry scholarships while you sip on our mixologist’s inspired craft cocktails.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

6:30 am - 8:00 am


Provided by The Illuminators

7:30 am - 1:00 pm

Conference Registration Open

Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

8:00 am - 9:00 am

The Morning Kickoff

Grab your morning coffee and join us for an enlightening presentation by one of the nation’s most respected economists. Learn what’s ahead for labor and employment, real estate and housing markets, inflation and the impact of government stimulus programs.

This morning kick-starter will provide you with the context and perspective to understand both national and California-specific economic issues that have a meaningful impact on your business forecasts.


9:00 am - 11:30 am

Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Enterprise Risk Protection Executive Summit (Day 2)

Sponsored by RMS, Inc.

“Looking Through the Curve, Day 2” – Lynn Melillo, ARM, Bristol Farms

“Reducing External Threats Through Collaboration” – Victoria Nguyen & Ray Adams, Alto USA

“Cal OSHA –Safety First During Covid” – Louie A. Brown, Jr., Kahn, Soares Conway


11:30 am – 12:30 pm


Provided by The Illuminators

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Keynote Luncheon Address

After a delicious lunch provided by The Illuminators, get ready for a mind-expanding presentation that will challenge your thinking about collaboration. One of NYU Stern School of Business’s most popular professors will provide an intriguing and timely diagnosis for the dissonance ailing our world, as well as a path forward towards collaboration, unity, and success.

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

5:00 pm

Event Concludes