Appoints Dr. Atira Charles, Moët Hennessy and Victoria Russell, Beam Suntory as Chair and Vice Chair

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) announced today that it has formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee chaired by Dr. Atira Charles, Head of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at Moët Hennessy North America. Victoria Russell, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Beam Suntory, will serve as vice chair.

The DEI Committee will identify and define both immediate and long-term actions that DISCUS member companies will lead as the industry continues to elevate and enhance efforts to build more diverse, equitable, and inclusive opportunities and career paths, both now, and for the next generation of spirits industry professionals.

“The establishment of this committee is key to the future of our industry. Our industry must reflect the communities and consumers we serve, while also being innovative and strategic in the ways in which we show up within those communities,” said Dr. Charles. “It is an honor to serve as the inaugural chair of this very important committee within DISCUS. I look forward to bringing my years of expertise to this role, and I will lead in a collaborative way with the other committee members. We are stronger together and impacting this industry will take all hands. We must all lead with passion, purpose, commitment, and accountability to move the needle on this important work.”

Russell added, “I’m proud to help lead this committee as DISCUS members partner to catalyze sustainable change, driving awareness and action, to increase inclusivity, retention, and career paths, making our industry a destination of choice for diverse talent.”

To date, DISCUS has held two DEI Roundtables with member companies to determine the best path forward. In addition to the formation of a DEI Committee, DISCUS will further expand inclusion and diversity education into programming including more diverse voices on the Spirited Advocate Podcast, and requiring a DEI course as part of the DISCUS Academy curriculum.



Headshots available for download here: Dr. Atira Charles and Victoria Russell.

Dr. Atira Charles — Head of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at Moët Hennessy North America

Dr. Atira Charles has been CEO of The Charles Consulting Group, a boutique consulting firm focusing on issues of diversity, inclusion, and wellness. As of November 2020, she has joined the Executive Leadership Team of Moët Hennessy as the Head of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity for North America. She is thrilled to make this shift to shape, direct, and transform the D&I strategy of this global organization, while also contributing to the goals of the parent company LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Group). Dr. Charles will still engage with her global thought leadership and keynote speaking.

Additionally, she explores how organizations can effectively manage the differences of their employees, through social and structural means. More specifically, her expertise revolves around identity management in the workplace, organizational management of differences, wellness practices, and communication and feedback processes within diverse organizations. Inspired by her educational philosophy, she also focuses on how individuals can motivate themselves to positive and productive action through self- awareness, wellness, and identity management.

Dr. Charles’ research has been published in numerous academic journals and media outlets. She has presented her research internationally and has worked with many municipalities and global Fortune 500 organizations exploring the role of identities in the workplace. She created The Mask Project (, which is a national initiative that documents and uncovers individual’s experiences of “wearing the mask” at work and in life. Dr. Charles has also served as a contributor for Black Enterprise Magazine. Dr. Charles’ has an audiobook entitled “The Art of Unmasking: Peeling back the layers to maximize personal and professional success”.

Dr. Charles is a highly sought out keynote speaker. She is also a TedX speaker and has an insightful talk entitled “Rethinking Diversity & Inclusion as a Health Dilemma” ( Her work has been featured in magazines, such as Black Enterprise Magazine and ESSENCE. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards such as the Florida State University Guardian of the Flame Award and the FAMU Outstanding 125 Alumni Award. She was even nominated by The Obama White House as a “Change Maker” for the 2016 State of the Woman Summit. Organizations and collaborators speak very highly of her ability to impact the cognitive processes of employees, in order to promote their psychological and behavioral change.

Victoria Russell – Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer – Beam Suntory

In January 2021, Victoria Russell was named the first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits. In this newly created role, Russell joins the company’s Senior Leadership Team and leads diversity and inclusion across talent acquisition, career development and employee retention, marketing, community relations, and building organizational capability to better recognize bias and further drive inclusive mindset. Russell also supports the development of diversity guidelines for the company’s supplier base and champions Employee Impact Groups and leaders across the business.

Before joining Beam Suntory, Russell had a successful 14-year career at Papa John’s International, ultimately stepping up during difficult times in 2018 to become the first to lead Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In that role, Russell was credited with step-changing the company’s actions to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. She previously held marketing analytics roles of increasing responsibility, providing valuable insights into the business, and the customers and communities they serve. Prior to Papa John’s, Victoria held compensation and marketing roles at Lexmark, Humana, and Brown-Forman and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a M.B.A in Marketing from the University of Kentucky.

Victoria serves on several nonprofit boards including the Louisville Chamber, Leadership Louisville, Fund for the Arts, and the YMCA.  Russell received numerous awards including Woman Making A Difference by Louisville Business First, featured in Business Journals’ Influencers: National Rising Stars and selected as one of Louisville’s Forty Under 40.  Other accomplishments include University of Kentucky Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award, founding member of the Adweek D&I Council and named of one the Adweek & Adcolor 2020 Champions of D&I.  Victoria was also named to the Executive Leadership Council, honored as a Muhammad Ali Center Daughter of Greatness and featured as Today’s Woman – Most Admired Woman.

About DISCUS: The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice and advocate for distilled spirits in the U.S., advocating on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.