Kentucky Distillers' Association - Director of Industry Responsibility & Sustainability

Q: How to Kentuckians enjoy their bourbon? A: Responsibly.

If you have ever attended a Kentucky Distillers’ Association – KDA event they take responsible drinking very seriously. This phrase is mentioned by the Association’s President Eric Gregory at least once if not twice at every event. The Association has just announced the hiring of Sarah Barnes as their new Director of Industry Responsibility and Sustainability.

Barnes is often seen in brown spirits bourbon circles from recently serving as the Managing Director at the Bourbon Women Association. She also has hands on experience on the distillery side of the world from her four years spent at years at Boone County Distilling Co. as Marketing and Events Coordinator where she guided public relations, responsibility and marketing.

“Sara is well-known and widely respected throughout our signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry for her professional, thoughtful and visionary approach,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “She is driven, determined and passionate about our industry’s standing and success.

“She has been a key voice in our diversity, equity and inclusion panel to create meaningful change and systemic reforms within our industry. Combined with an outstanding work ethic, she is a perfect fit to help lead our members in these critical areas. We proudly welcome her to our team.”

Kentucky Distillers' Association - Director of Industry Responsibility & Sustainability
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Kentucky Distillers’ Association Director of Industry Responsibility & Sustainability.

“I am excited about the challenge and the thought-provoking work of the legacy projects with the KDA in sustainability, social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Barnes.

“I look forward to leading change and strengthening the industry’s commitment to these goals for the future.”

The KDA created the position in 2016 to strengthen the industry’s significant commitment to social responsibility and sustainability through collective action. Barnes also will coordinate educational and workforce development opportunities in partnership with Kentucky higher education institutions.

“Sara has been a driving force behind Bourbon Women for the past two years and we are incredibly proud of her work being recognized by the KDA,” said Bourbon Women Chair Heather Wibbels. “We look forward to our continued relationship.”

Gregory said KDA members have greatly benefited from collaborative responsibility and sustainability initiatives over the years, from state-of-the-art ID verification technology to ride-sharing partnerships and sustainability efforts like the University of Kentucky’s White Oak Initiative.

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“We have much more work to do to ensure the responsible and moderate consumption of alcohol, prepare our industry and our workforce for generations to come, and cultivate a culture of diversity, inclusivity and meaningful engagement.

“We look forward to introducing Sara to our partners and stakeholders in these areas and working together to grow our signature industry in the right way. We can only succeed when the communities in which we work and live thrive as well.”

A South Carolina native, Barnes is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, an Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave & Thief Society, trained in responsibility measures through STAR, TIPS and ServSafe, and a member of the KDA DEI Advisory Panel.

Learn more about Boone County Distilling.
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