WASHINGTON, DC – Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and Responsibility.org, today announced several key senior leadership appointments following the alignment of the two organizations.
The Senior Leadership Team consists of:
- Courtney Armour, Chief Legal Officer, DISCUS & Responsibility.org
- Adrian Baxter, Chief Financial Officer, DISCUS & Responsibility.org
- Sarah Fitzmaurice, Chief, Resource Planning & Management, DISCUS & Responsibility.org
- Leslie Kimball, Chief, Branding & Communications, DISCUS & Responsibility.org
- Christine LoCascio, Chief, Public Policy, DISCUS
- Ben Nordstrom, M.D., Ph.D. Executive Director, Responsibility.org
- Eric Reller, Chief, Strategic Initiatives, DISCUS
- Sam Zakhari, Chief, Science & Health, DISCUS
DISCUS will continue to benefit from the expertise of veteran DISCUS leaders Lynne Omlie, Frank Coleman and Mark Gorman, who will serve as Senior Advisors to Swonger.
As more closely aligned organizations, DISCUS will continue to focus on advocacy and Responsibility.org will continue to lead the fight to eliminate drunk driving, underage drinking, and to promote responsible consumption. DISCUS and Responsibility.org will leverage core enterprise service functions to support both organizations in operations, membership, human resources, communications, legal and finance.
“DISCUS is now even better positioned to advocate for the interests of large, medium and small distillers and brand owners. We are also fully invested in working closely with our distributor, Control State, and retail partners to find common ground on important issues for the spirits industry. Building upon the spirits’ sector’s ninth consecutive year of growth, DISCUS is well prepared to seize new opportunities and meet the challenges of a quickly evolving spirits marketplace,” stated Swonger.
DISCUS and Responsibility.org will remain separate organizations with separate boards and individual identities and missions. Both will continue to share a common purpose: to build upon and advance their members’ longstanding commitment to responsibility. Both organizations are poised to maximize their respective strengths with a skilled and experienced team that provides both continuity and a focus on the dynamic future of the distilled spirits industry.
Swonger added, “Many Americans want to enjoy the richness of the ‘cocktail culture’ and celebrate life’s best occasions responsibly, while also keeping drunk drivers off our roads and alcohol out of kids’ hands. These principles are complementary endeavors and position the distilled spirits industry for the future.”
“We are elevating the strongest aspects of each organization while preserving the independent nature of Responsibility.org,” said Swonger. “Under Dr. Ben Nordstrom’s leadership as Executive Director, it will maintain a core team dedicated solely to its missions.”
Ben Nordstrom, M.D., Ph.D., a Board-Certified addiction psychiatrist and former President and CEO of Phoenix House, joined Responsibility.org in mid-April 2019.
Lynne Omlie, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, will continue to serve in this role through mid-September. Omlie will then transition to a Senior Advisor role to support the onboarding of the new Chief Legal Officer, and she will continue to advise the President & CEO. Frank Coleman and Mark Gorman now serve as Senior Advisors, providing strategic guidance to the President & CEO.
“We are grateful to still be able to call on the experience and knowledge of Lynne, Mark, and Frank. These dedicated professionals are titans in the industry having spearheaded win after win for greater market access opportunities that have enabled spirits companies of all sizes to flourish,” added Swonger. “Each will continue to play an important role in support of DISCUS’ mission to drive further market share growth and cultural acceptance for distilled spirits.”
Background on the Senior Leadership Team:
Courtney Armour joins the team on September 17th as Chief Legal Officer. Armour joins from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she is a member of the firm’s antitrust practice. Prior to attending Northwestern School of Law, Armour served as DISCUS’ state government relations manager.
Adrian Baxter serves as Chief Financial Officer following 21 years of service at DISCUS and Responsibility.org. Baxter was formerly in the role of Controller.
Sarah Fitzmaurice, Chief, Resource Planning & Management, joined DISCUS & Responsibility.org from Smiths Group. Fitzmaurice leads Operations, Human Resources and Membership. In the past few months, Fitzmaurice has led DISCUS’ creation of a Partner Member Program and reinstituted the Craft Advisory Council.
Leslie Kimball, Chief, Branding & Communications, joined the leadership team after 18 years of leading Communication and Educational Programs at Responsibility.org. Kimball has helped build and design responsibility programs and will oversee branding and communications for both organizations.
Christine LoCascio serves as Chief, Public Policy overseeing federal and state government relations, international trade, regulatory affairs, and economics. LoCascio formerly served as Senior Vice President of International Trade at DISCUS, which she joined in 2001.
Eric Reller serves as Chief, Strategic Initiatives, leading efforts to address emerging issues facing the spirits sector. Before joining DISCUS in 2015, Reller worked in legislative communications at the National Federation Independent Business (NFIB), the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and American Trucking Associations.
Dr. Sam Zakhari serves as Chief, Science & Health. Dr. Zakhari joined DISCUS in 2012 following 25 years at the National Institute of Health, most recently as the Director of Divisions of Basic Research and Metabolism and Health Effects.
DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES
DISCUS is the leading voice for distilled spirits in the U.S. market and serves as the industry’s advocate in state capitals, the nation’s capital and foreign capitals around the globe.
Responsibility.org (Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility) is a national not-for-profit , funded by distillers, that leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empowers adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. For over 27 years, Responsibility.org has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, visit Responsibility.org.