Retail Design Institute International Board


The Retail Design Institute promotes the advancement and collaborative practice of creating selling environments.

Claudia Cerchiara Elected President of Retail Design Institute

Claudia Cerchiara, RDI

International President

Claudia Cerchiara is Retail Client Leader at BHDP Architecture, Cincinnati. With more than 20 years of retail experience in planning and merchandising for domestic and international department store clients, Cerchiara earned a degree in architecture from Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, in her native Argentina.  She joined the Institute in 2008 and became involved in the Ohio Chapter the following year as secretary. In 2012, she was elected vice president, but stepped into the president’s role when the chapter’s elected president departed. Cerchiara was next elected Ohio Chapter president in 2014 and reelected for the 2016-18 term, before being elected International President.
Her fluency in Spanish (and English) has been helpful in staying connected with the Institute’s Chapters in Brazil and Spain.

Sharon Lessard, RDI

International Vice President

Sharon’s 25 year career in the retail industry has been as both the brand client and now the design firm service provider to brand clients.  Because of this integrated experience, and always focusing on the customer experience, she brings a unique perspective and understanding of business-driven design.  Key relationships and programs included in her career: LBrands, Best Buy, SUPERVALU, Carter’s Oshkosh, 365 by Whole Foods Market, Vera Bradley, ZARA, SunTrust, PNC, Samsung, ATT, Bridgestone, Sarah Cannon, NCR, and Cox Automotive.

Sharon has been a Professional member of the Retail Design Institute since 2008.  She became President of the Minneapolis | St. Paul Chapter in 2009, serving as President for three years and Chairman for one before taking a year off while establishing her own business, Share, LLC.  For the last two years, Sharon has served as Secretary of the Atlanta Chapter since relocating to assume her current role as Studio Director for the Brand and Retail Design studio at Gensler.

Mimi Yacobucci

International Treasurer

Mimi Yacobucci is the former Secretary of the Southern California Chapter (board member since 2010) and has been a member of the Institute for six years. With 20-years as an industry professional, Mimi is known for her ability to establish rapport with individuals of diverse backgrounds and professional levels. She has enjoyed expanding her network within the RDI community to establish meaningful connections, support other chapters and helping others.  

“I am excited and honored to serve the Institute on the International Board. As Treasurer, I will work toward growing our revenues through attracting new members while retaining current ones — including simplifying our processing of new members. I will watch International expenditures to be sure members are receiving the best value.”

James Farnell, RDI

International Chairman

James is a designer with more than 20 years’ experience working in multi-disciplinary design studios renowned for their creation of world-class retail environments. He has worked across multiple retail categories to successfully craft and deliver concepts in over fourteen countries.

His expertise lies in building the brand experience through delivering innovative retail solutions which consider every touch point of the customer journey – from shaping the architecture and interior design to crafting the visual merchandising stories within; by integrating the digital experience to layering in environmental graphics.

James has applied his multi-disciplinary approach to retailing across a diverse range of categories including (but not limited to) fashion apparel stores, automotive showrooms, supermarkets, hypermarkets, shopping and mixed-use centers, restaurants cafes and bars, sales offices, exhibition stands, FMCG, cosmetics and perfumery displays and telecom /hard-line services stores.

Originating from England, James worked several years in Australia before moving to Singapore, where he was responsible for a number of key international accounts throughout the Asia Pacific region, including projects for Dell, Procter & Gamble, Apple, DFS & HP. Now based in California at one of North America’s leading architectural firms, he is responsible for Little’s creative output on the West Coast of North America and APAC and is continuing to build its reputation for design excellence.

Jessie Sanders, RDI

International Secretary

Jessie graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design (now Architectural Studies). In 2010, she received her NCIDQ Certification. Her retail experience as a project manager includes Anchor Blue, Levi’s, Teavana, BCBG-MaxRave, Chico’s, White House Black Market, The GAP, J. Jill, Limited Brands, Noodles & Company, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Aramark projects from the design phase through construction phase, while handling multiple projects.

She has helped numerous other clients including Yum! Brands, Wet Seal, Arden B, Burger King, Hardees, Manpower & Pretzel Time. Jessie helped design Anchor Blue’s storefront, Teavana’s current store concept and the prototype for Spritz. With her knowledge of Photoshop, Jessie has completed numerous renderings and sample boards for various clients. Currently, she is active in the St. Louis Chapter and holds the board position as International Secretary.

Andrew McQuilkin, FRDI


A career that spans almost 30 years, starting at Walker Group/CNI 1983-86, freelancing with Patrick McQuilkin 1986, Fitzpatrick Design Group 1987-98 and Gensler 1998-2001. In 2001 Andrew came to Cincinnati from New York to take a lead creative position at FRCH in the department store/large format studio planning and design teams. He is now retail market leader for BHDP Architecture, providing an international perspective, vision and a hands-on capability.

Using his experience and knowledge, Andrew incorporates a thorough understanding of strategic concepting, planning, merchandising, design, client management, project management and construction documentation. As the current International Chairman and together with the International Board, they have successfully engaged a focused effort on the three key areas: bringing value to our membership, being the industry authority, and providing professional development. The foundation they have reestablished is strong and will become the springboard for moving the Institute forward.

Andrew believes that everyone who is elected has the responsibility to advance the mission of the Retail Design Institute and its members. The International Board including Chapter Directors, need to continue to grow and foster a spirit of collaboration, dedication and accountability.