The Kentucky Distillers’ Association – KDA does a lot not only for Kentucky but many of the laws and tourism regulations they enact tend to have a ripple effect for America’s Native Spirit across the entire U.S. For the most part, the people behind the KDA are kind of like the Great and Powerful Oz that do their magic behind a green curtain. Well, this is one of those times the people behind the curtain get to step forward and be recognized for all they do for the spirits industry.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” The Wizard of Oz, 1939
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has announced several staff promotions to further position the historic non-profit trade group as the leading voice for Bourbon, a thriving economic engine for the Bluegrass State.
“With more members than ever before, the KDA continues to expand and position its staff to lead our signature industry into the future, address core issues and challenges, and increase value to our distilleries and partners,” said Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory.
“We are fortunate and thankful to have a visionary Board of Directors and growing membership that works together and invests in the association as the industry flourishes. That spirit of camaraderie and collaboration is at the hallmark of everything we do.”
Kentucky Distillers’ Association Staff Updates
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Adam Johnson has led the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® experiences since 2012. Johnson has been promoted to the KDA’s first-ever Vice President of State Relations. In his new role he will cultivate and strengthen the KDA’s relationships with other state distilling guilds and national groups like the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), and similar organizations.
Colleen Thomas has been with the KDA since 2016 in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Director of Marketing and Member Services. Thomas has been promoted to KDA’s first-ever Vice President of Operations. She will now oversee KDA member services and support, responsibility and sustainability programs, research, workforce development, marketing, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tourism program.
Mandy Ryan joined the KDA full-time in 2013 as Executive Assistant. She’s spent the last two years leading promotional efforts as Director of Marketing growing the organization’s online presence and building the new Kentucky Bourbon campaign. Ryan will now oversee KDA’s tourism initiatives as the Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences.
Marielle McElmurray joined the KDA as Special Projects Manager in 2021. McElmurray has been named Operations Manager and Executive Assistant. In her new role she will continue to assist KDA staff in several areas, including governmental affairs, research and agricultural policy, while coordinating daily KDA operations at its headquarters in Frankfort. She is also Assistant Secretary-Treasurer to the KDA Board of Directors.
Additional KDA staff members include Sara Barnes, Director of Industry Responsibility & Sustainability; Jack Mazurak, Director of Governmental & Regulatory Affairs; Annie Franklin, Director of Member Services; and Allison Delande, Director of Special Projects.
What is the Napa-fication of Kentucky?
Founded in 1880, the KDA is the voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces the majority of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of America’s only native spirit.
Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured industries, a booming $9 billion economic and tourism engine sustaining more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.23 billion each year, over $285 million in local and state taxes and $1.8 billion in federal alcohol taxes.