The Retail Management Certificate program was first envisioned in 1999 by a group of forward-thinking retail leaders who shared a concern over the growing skills gap among the workforce in their companies.  Together, this group determined a need for education depth among management-level employees to meet the increasingly complex business demands.  Utilizing the research of an industrial psychologist, the group identified a set of competencies considered critical for success in retail management and began a collaborative partnership with community college leaders to develop the Retail Management Certificate.

In 2000, Cherie Phipps, one of the program’s founding executives, took the lead role in scaling the Retail Management Certificate. With a background in leadership development, succession planning and lifelong career in the retail sector, she has been the catalyst behind the design and growth of the Retail Management Certificate.

As the Director of the Retail Management Certificate program, Cherie oversees an academic panel regarding the program curriculum, and works closely with community colleges and retailers across the nation to cultivate leadership and prepare workers for advancement in all levels of management.  She applies her passion for developing retail leaders at multiple meetings and conferences across the country and leadswebinars for community colleges and employers as well.

In 2013, four of the Retail Management Certificate partner colleges were awarded a $12 million dollar federal grant to enhance the program, and expand nationally to the entire retail sector.

Since then, several other entities have endorsed the Retail Management Certificate and are helping to scale the program and carry out the original goal to build education depth in the industry.

Since its inception, the growth of the Retail Management Certificate has flourished under the direction of the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC), a non-profit organization comprised of top executives in the retail grocery industry, with a pure mission to Advance the Food Industry through Education and Leadership.

Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC)

Established in 1921, the Western Association of Food Chains is a non-profit organization comprised of retailers and wholesalers in the Western United States representing over 7,500 supermarkets and $200 billion dollars in annual sales. The WAFC’s primary mission is to provide educational and leadership opportunities for food industry associates that help advance employees into successful careers.

The WAFC’s most far reaching educational program is the Retail Management Certificate, an accredited community college program that provides the core skills and knowledge to move into a management role in the retail industry. The WAFC’s education efforts are guided by their board of directors, which includes many of the food industry’s top leaders. WAFC company employees are strongly encouraged to earn the Retail Management certificate and receive special benefits upon completion. To learn more about the program or WAFC at .