Shawnee Adelson, who has served in various roles for the Colorado Brewers Guild over the past four years, was named executive director Monday by the trade association's board of directors. Adelson has been running the CBG since June, when former director Andres Gil Zaldana stepped down for family reasons.
The board performed an "extensive search resulting in more than fifty candidates, many hours of interviews, discussions, and some soul-searching into trying to determine what skills and experience the best person for the job would have, right here in Colorado, at this time in the brewing industry, and at this stage of evolution of the Colorado Brewers Guild," says CBG board president Matt Cutter of Upslope Brewing.
"Shawnee, with her experience in nonprofits, her success that she has demonstrated in the last four years at the CBG, and outlook to further strengthen the guild and its members, made her the obvious choice," he adds.
A native of Telluride, Adelson graduated from Whitman College in Washington State (where former CBG board member Wynne Odell also went) before attending graduate school at the University of Denver. She previously worked as the director of school garden programs for Denver Urban Gardens.
Adelson takes over at a challenging time. Not only are there more breweries in Colorado than ever before — more than 400 — and in more parts of the state, but their interests are increasingly divergent. In addition, the state allowed grocery and convenience stores to begin selling full-strength beer at the beginning of 2019, something that has made an already difficult economic environment even more unclear. The CBG is also just three years removed from a bitter battle between members that almost tore it in two.
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But Adelson, who joined the CBG in November 2015 as its membership coordinator before becoming deputy director, says she's looking forward to the job. "I can build bridges and I can work with all of our members, regardless of their size or business model," she says. "I can bring strength and stability to the board."
In her time with the guild, Adelson helped grow membership to about 275 breweries, which is close to 65 percent of the state's total, she points out. "When I started, the percentage was in the fifties."
Her immediate goals, in addition to organizing the third annual Colorado Craft Brewers Summit and trade show in November, will be to "maintain our strength at the State Capitol and to continue to have a strong legislative voice," to ramp up promotion efforts around independent craft breweries as the CBG heads toward its 25th anniversary next year, and to hire a third staff member by the end of 2019.
"She will be extremely busy in the upcoming months, meeting with legislative stakeholders and lobbyists from peer organizations, executing a successful Colorado Craft Brewers Summit, and continuing to carry out the goals set by the Board at the beginning of 2019," Cutter adds via email. In addition to Cutter, the current board consists of Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing, Tim Myers of Strange Craft Beer Company, Dave Bergen of Joyride Brewing, Tommy Bibliowicz of 4 Noses Brewing, Justin Baccary of Station 26 Brewing, Chris Labbe of Periodic Brewing, Dave Cole of Epic Brewing and Carol Cochran of Horse & Dragon Brewing.