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  • Writer's picturePress Release

Retail Alliance appoints new President/CEO, Jenny Crittenden


Jenny Crittenden, Retail Alliance
Jenny Crittenden

Words and Images Courtesy of Retail Alliance


Hampton Roads’ Retail Alliance Board of Directors has officially appointed Jenny Crittenden as President and CEO, effective February 16, 2023. She replaces Ray Mattes, who announced his retirement in October of 2022.

Crittenden previously served as Senior Vice President of Retail Alliance. She is just the second woman appointed President and CEO in the organization’s 120-year history. She’s excited to continue their mission of empowering retailers to grow their business through education, advocacy, and staying on top of cutting-edge retail trends.

“We are very fortunate to have Jenny lead our organization into the next chapter,” said outgoing President/CEO Ray Mattes. “Working with Jenny during the past 14 months I have found her to be extremely passionate of not only the mission but the future of this organization. Jenny is extremely professional, loves retail and operates with a high degree of integrity, all characteristics of a true leader. Under Jenny’s leadership, I am extremely confident that Retail Alliance will continue to grow and evolve.”

Prior to joining Retail Alliance’s leadership team in 2022, Crittenden served in various facets with Retail Alliance, including its Retail Alliance Foundation Board, Executive Committee, Legislative and Membership Chairs and on the organization’s Board of Directors.

For the last three years, she has also served Retail Alliance as a subject matter expert teaching the Marketing and Customer Service module for the Retail Alliance Foundation’s Certificate in Retail Operations class.

Crittenden is a seasoned leader with vast experience implementing programs to help small businesses grow. Before joining Retail Alliance, she served sixteen years in the Main Street ecosystem leading the non-profit organization, Main Street Preservation Trust in Gloucester, VA.

“Jenny has been my rock since Sweet Tooth Cafe started, and she helped develop and grow my business into the place it is today,” said Crystal Burton, owner of Sweet Tooth Cafe and Bakery, a small business located on Main Street in Gloucester, VA. “She is a true champion for entrepreneurs, and I am beyond thankful for all her work, dedication and believing in me.”

Additionally, Crittenden served as the Executive Director for the Cook Foundation and held the Marketing and Sponsorship chairs for the Gloucester Arts Festival. She is a recognized thought leader in retail and entrepreneurism and has spoken on the topics at the local and national levels.

“Working with Jenny over the past 16 years has been an exciting and productive adventure. Jenny identified so many opportunities and made them a reality for our community,” said Adrianne Ryder-Cook Joseph, Founder of the Cook Foundation. “She embodies the best of professionalism combined with personal warmth and excellent leadership. Retail Alliance is very lucky to have her at the helm." During the pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Crittenden to represent small brick and mortar retail on the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force to help develop reopening guidelines for businesses in Virginia.

“Prior to being asked if she would consider interviewing for the CEO position at Retail Alliance, Jenny was a dedicated member of the Board, exhibiting a passion for the success of member retailers,” said Bob Gurnee, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Retail Alliance. “During the interview process it became unanimously clear that she would be the right choice to lead the organization into this new era.” Under Crittenden’s leadership, Gloucester’s Main Street Preservation Trust was honored with a national Main Street Forward Award in 2021, showcasing successful recovery and resiliency efforts and execution of an E-Commerce Platform for downtown businesses. Inside Business awarded her with a Women in Business Award in 2021. The awards celebrate women who have been successful in their businesses and careers, contribute to the community and serve as an example to others, something Jenny continuously strives to achieve.

“I am so thankful to Ray for his leadership and outstanding job of growing a very healthy organization and look forward to executing on the opportunity it presents,” said Crittenden. “Retailers are an integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and are at the core of our neighborhoods and communities. I am thrilled to be trusted to lead this time-honored organization as it evolves to meet retailers’ needs now and into the future.”

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