As the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) approaches our tenth anniversary, we are proud to announce several strategic new hires. The expanded team will help lead us through our next decade of growth and service to the country’s craft spirits community.
We are pleased to announce the addition of Michael Walker as State Policy Advisor. In his new role, Walker will be identifying state legislative issues and liaising with state distillery guilds to develop legislative strategies. Walker joins ACSA’s legislative team with nearly 25 years of experience at the intersection of the public and private sectors, including more than 11 years serving in the legislative and executive branches of government. Most recently, he served for well over a decade with Constellation Brands as VP of its external affairs/public affairs department.
“I look forward to assisting the ACSA team and their passionate members navigate the dynamic state policy landscape the craft spirits industry operates in, as well as helping the organization accomplish their goals and objective,” Walker said.
Additionally, Kenneth Brady has been named our full-time Director of Membership and Marketing, responsible for nurturing and growing ACSA’s community of members and sponsors. He’ll also be developing and executing a marketing vision for ACSA. Brady previously served in a part-time capacity as ACSA’s Non-Dues Revenue and Marketing Strategist. He draws upon many years of experience in marketing, branding, communication/engagement, business development and membership in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, with past roles at associations, technology companies and a chamber of commerce.
“I am gratified to be part of the craft spirits community and will strive to elevate and promote the profession with great passion,” Brady said.
Also joining the team is Stephanie Sadri as Director of Meetings and Events. She is a familiar face within the craft spirits community, as Sadri has managed the logistics of ACSA’s events—including the annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show and Public Policy Conference—for several years as an employee of global meeting planning company Helms Briscoe. Sadri now joins the ACSA staff full time and she will be in charge of all things events, from planning to exhibitor development. This seasoned hospitality and events industry veteran has built her career at venues like Invesco Field—where she worked not only on Denver Broncos events, but on the Democratic National Convention—as well as Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Oxford Hotel and The Curtis Hotel. Sadri is Immediate Past President of Meeting Professionals Internationals (MPI), on whose board of directors she’s served for nine years. She’s also in the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame and has been awarded Smart Meetings Planner of the Year, and the MPI Rising Star Award.
“I am beyond excited to join the team full time and continue to champion the amazing work that ACSA does for the incredibly vibrant craft spirits community,” Sadri said.
Walker, Brady and Sadri all officially assume their new roles starting Sept. 1.
“ACSA works day-in and day-out to enable craft spirits producers to operate in a business-friendly environment, from manufacturing through sales and distribution,” said ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrmann. “Equally important is engaging all stakeholders, with the goal of bringing together our vibrant community to learn and celebrate our innovation. Adding Michael, Ken, and Stephanie to the team will help fulfill those goals and move us to that next level.”
Finally, it is with mixed emotions that ACSA announces the departure of Carason Lehmann, who served for more than six years with the organization—most recently as Membership & Events Director—and has been instrumental in building ACSA to what it is today. Lehmann is embarking on the next chapter of her distinguished career as a wedding event planner at Soeur Events in Charleston, S.C. Her contributions to the association have been innumerable and Lehmann will be greatly missed by her ACSA colleagues.
“I am so thankful to Margie and ACSA for taking a chance on me six years ago,” Lehmann said. “It is extremely bittersweet to be leaving such an incredible organization, especially the members, who I’ve been able to build connections with throughout the years. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and it has fueled my lifetime love and passion for good hospitality.”