Brewbound Session Summer 2017 Speakers
Co-Founder & CEO, Founders Brewing Company
Mike Stevens is a co-founder of Founders Brewing Company and serves as the company’s CEO. Founders is one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the nation, currently ranking among the top 20 largest craft breweries in the United States as of 2016. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival, and its beers are often rated among the best in the world by RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users. The company has seen its annual barrel output nearly double each of the last seven years while distribution has expanded from seven states to 46. Founders finished 2016 with a total of 347,780 barrels shipped.
Former CEO, Bell's Brewery
Laura Bell is the former CEO of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., the seventh largest craft brewery in the United States. A second generation co-owner (Laura was just 2 months old when Larry Bell founded the brewery), she has spent time working various odd jobs when she was younger like gluing labels to bottles and in the Eccentric Café’s kitchen while in high school. Laura officially started working at the brewery full-time in 2007 after graduating from Michigan State University. Since then, she has spent time in sales, all areas of beer production and built the marketing department from the ground up. She now oversees all brewery operations and planning for Bell’s and its sister brewery in Escanaba, Upper Hand Brewery.
Founder, Heavy Seas Beer
A sixth generation Baltimorean, Hugh J. Sisson has been involved in all aspects of craft brewing. The Founder and Managing Partner of Heavy Seas Beer, Sisson is among Baltimore's premier authorities on craft brewing and a former manager of the state's first pub brewery, Sisson’s, located in Federal Hill. In the mid-eighties, Sisson, along with the help of Senator George W. Della, Jr., successfully lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation required to open a brew pub in Maryland. With the initiation of pub brewing in Baltimore in 1989, Sisson immersed himself in the development and market recognition of both Sisson's and its beers. In 1994, he left Sisson’s to begin a new venture, Clipper City Brewing Company. Clipper City has been in operation for more than 21 years and markets fine beers – under the brand name of Heavy Seas -- in 18 states, as well as Washington, DC. Sisson is a member of the Brewers Association, is past president for the Brewers Association of Maryland, and a former member of the Master Brewers Association of America. He was founder of the Cross Street Irregulars Home Brew Club, Maryland’s oldest such club, and co-hosts a weekly program on WYPR Radio, Baltimore, entitled Cellar Notes that critiques fine wine and beer.
Former Director of Beverage Strategy, Yard House Restaurants
Greg began his restaurant career over two decades ago in service and continued into management through multiple concepts eventually landing at Yard House in November of 2005 opening the 13th location. After spending two years in management serving several locations in Southern California he moved into a beverage support role at the home office in 2007 officially taking over the beverage program as Director in September of 2014. Greg and his team managed beer, wine, cocktail, sprits and non-alcoholic beverage programing for the 69 Yard House locations in 24 states supporting over 9,100 tap handles nationwide and $36 million dollars in beverage purchasing.
Co-Founder & CEO, Harpoon Brewery
Dan Kenary serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mass. Bay Brewing Company, aka, the Harpoon Brewery. Dan graduated from Harvard College in 1982 with a degree in American History then earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1985 while working at the First National Bank of Chicago. Frustrated with the lack of beer options, Dan left the bank in 1986 to co-found Harpoon. Dan has served on the Institute of Brewing Studies Board of Advisors, as director and treasurer of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, a local environmental advocacy organization, president of the Boston Marine Park Business Association, and founding president of the Massachusetts Brewer’s Guild. He currently serves as Chairman of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s largest employer association. In 2014 Dan led Harpoon through its transition to employee ownership through the creation of the Harpoon Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”). Originally from Worcester, Dan lives in Wellesley with his wife, Julie, and has four children.
Founder, The Beer Connect
Chris is the Chief Beer Drinker at The Beer Connect, focusing his award winning strategies and leadership in assisting the craft beer segment exercise their self-distribution rights while utilizing The Beer Connect's self-distribution and marketing technology. Since The Beer Connect's inception in December of 2015, Chris and his team have been able to help over 90 breweries grow their brands and gain exposure to millions of craft beer consumers and beverage managers across the US and world. Prior to diving into the intersection of craft beer and technology, Chris was a service member of the United States Coast Guard, managing pharmaceutical operations and supply chain, as well as serving as an EMT. After exiting the Coast Guard, he pursued a career in digital marketing and won multiple awards in direct correlation to his leadership and success of his teams. He has assisted fortune 500's to small privately held companies become more successful with their digital marketing strategies.
Co-Founder, Night Shift Brewing
Rob is part of a trio of friends who left their day jobs to follow their passion for brewing. Rob graduated from college with a strong love for craft beer. Post-college Rob worked for 6 plus years in the technology industry in Boston. In early 2012 Rob and his two other Co-Founders launched Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA. For the past 5+ years Rob has lead the brewing team at Night Shift pushing for innovation and the creation of unique world class beers. In the fall of 2016 Rob and his Co-Founders launched a second business venture, Night Shift Distributing. Rob now leads this disruptive beer wholesale operation. Rob also serves as a the President of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Brewers Guild where he works to protect and promote the state's brewing industry.
Director of Brewery & Distributor Relations, World of Beer
Since opening and managing the beer program for World of Beer’s 11th tavern, Marc has spent the last 6 years leading the beverage program for World of Beer, a market leader in the craft beer bar and restaurant space with over 70 locations in the United States and China. He developed World of Beer’s category management strategy and works with managers across the country to implement and customize beer offerings relative to local market and consumer trends. Partnering with local, national and global breweries, he works to ensure priority of new and rare products for his taverns to use in the creation of traffic driving programs and events.
SVP, Beverage Alcohol Practice, Nielsen
Danny Brager is the Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area in the United States, supporting relationships with Nielsen’s many Beer, Wine, and Spirits clients, as well as with key industry groups and the media. In this role, Danny and his team provides business information, analysis and insights, focusing on the U.S. retail environment and consumer – who they are, what they buy, and why. Danny has fifteen years of experience specific to the Beverage Alcohol industry, and for the past 30 plus years has held a variety of marketing and sales positions with Nielsen in both Canada and the United States. Danny is a frequent speaker at many client and industry events on the subject of Beverage Alcohol retail and consumer trends. Danny holds an Honors Bachelor of Business Administration from York University in Toronto, Canada. After residing and working in Canada for many years, he now lives in Southern California. And as a Canadian, he's a passionate hockey fan!
Founder & CEO, Liberation Distribution, Inc.
Cheryl Murphy Durzy has been managing wholesale sales for her family’s 80,000 case winery, Clos LaChance, for over 17 years. She has a full understanding of the industry and issues regarding alcohol distribution in the United States. She is passionate about LibDib and hopes to disrupt the current system by offering all small, family-owned wineries and businesses an opportunity to sell their products to other businesses that want them. Cheryl is truly entrenched in the industry, sitting on several Boards, including the California Sustainable Wine Association and Free the Grapes.
Associate Client Manager, Nielsen
Caitlyn Battaglia is an Associate Client Manager within Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area, where she supports Nielsen’s initiatives and thought leadership across Beer, Wine, and Spirits clients. Prior to joining the Beverage Alcohol Practice Area she worked in advanced analytics focusing on pricing and promotion as well as sales and marketing effectiveness. A current Houston resident, she holds a B.A. from Denison University and has been with Nielsen for nearly 4 years.
Director of Emerging Business Partnerships, Craft Brew Alliance
Karmen Olson is the Director of Emerging Business Partnerships for Craft Brew Alliance, where she discovers and integrates strategic partners that leverage CBA's brewing and distribution expertise. Karmen previously served as the Redhook Brand Manager for CBA where she initiated a partnership strategy with national Retail and Media outlets that led the brand from negative to double digit growth. Karmen has more than 15 years' experience in the Food and Beverage industry, specializing in brand strategy and strategic partnerships. Ms. Olson holds an MBA from George Fox University, a Bachelor of Science from Portland State University, and serves on the Board of Directors for Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR.
Innovation Brewmaster, Craft Brew Alliance
Thomas Bleigh is the Innovation Brewmaster for Craft Brew Alliance where he leads a team of Innovation brewers to create new products, explore new ingredients and engage in brewing Research & Development. Tom was born in Augsburg, Germany and is a graduate of UC Davis with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and the University of Wisconsin with an Master of Fine Arts. A 16 year Craft Beer industry veteran, Tom’s interests are in meats, cheese and kimchi in addition to “Pursuit of the Perfect Pint!”
Manager of Beer Operations, Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries
With 18 years of experience in beverage and restaurant operations, Jonny is an avid craft beer expert and Certified Cicerone®. Focused within Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries on the Old Chicago brand, Jonny executes and develops the beer strategy, manages 85-plus versions of the beer list, is Old Chicago’s beer content expert, and oversees 13 regional beer specialists across the country. Jonny seeks out up-and-coming as well as proven brewers to make collaborations and exclusive beer promotions for the brand. Old Chicago has over 4000 draft lines, at 108 restaurants, in 24 states and is focused on selling a blend of local, regional and national craft beer offerings.
COO, Storied Craft Breweries
Adam has spent 20 years in the beverage industry. Prior to Storied Craft Breweries, he worked with three prominent craft brewers, serving as the VP of Sales New Holland Brewery and Distillery for two years and as VP of Sales for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery for seven years. He also spent six years as National Sales and Marketing Manager for Rogue Ales. His past experiences include owning a wine distribution company and beverage brokerage, and he is a long serving member of the Brewers Association. While at Rogue, Adam grew sales of the brand from 28,000 barrels to 78,000 barrels. During his time, the brand expanded distribution to all 50 states and 20 international markets. Rogue's distribution footprint consisted of 125 distributors across 50 states. Adam also helped grow Dogfish Head from 78,000 barrels to 230,000 barrels. During his time, Dogfish expanded to 30 states with a distributor network of 135 wholesalers.
Sports Business Reporter, ESPN
Darren Rovell is the sports business reporter for ESPN, where he has covered the beat for the network for 11 years. In this capacity, he writes for ESPN's website and appears on all its shows including "SportsCenter" and "Outside The Lines." He has a vast social media following, most notably his 1.8 million followers on Twitter. Rovell, who won an Emmy Award for his work on NBC's 2008 Election coverage during his six-year stint with business channel CNBC, has been involved with the food and beverage world for more than a decade. He wrote a book on Gatorade called "First In Thirst" and is a partner in Tastemaster Capital, which invests in early stage food and beverage companies.
Managing Partner, First Beverage Group
Townsend developed his love of beverages while at graduate school in Northern California, where he found an appreciation for wine that evolved into a 25-year collector’s history. Prior to joining First Beverage, Townsend spent over 25 years in investment banking and private equity at The First Boston Corporation, Wasserstein Perella & Co., and Wasserstein & Co. He has completed over $40 billion in mergers and acquisitions advisory assignments, and as a principal investor over 30 private equity investments ranging from leveraged buyouts and growth equity to venture capital. In this capacity, he served on numerous private and public company boards of directors. He is a former Director and Non-Executive Chairman of Imax Corporation, a leading large-screen film projection company, and a former Director of two other public companies: Collins & Aikman Corporation, a $2 billion automotive components company, and Maybelline, Inc., a leading mass market cosmetics manufacturer. While at First Beverage, Townsend has advised Firestone Walker in its partnership with Duvel Moortgat, Brooklyn Brewery in its investment from Kirin, Southern Tier in its investment from Ulysses, Boulevard in its sale to Duvel Moortgat, Hop Valley Brewing and Terrapin Beer in their sales to MillerCoors, 10 Barrel Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewery and Spiked Seltzer in their sales to ABInBev.