Looking for the perfect Spirits Industry speaker?
Point-driven and informative, our speakers know how to speak candidly about the current trends to provoke thought and deep understanding.
DISCUS offers a wide variety of speakers whose knowledge and expertise will interest your audience. Whether it’s a keynote presentation for your next conference, an interactive training seminar, a strategy session or panel discussion facilitation – we can tailor the content to meet your needs.
How to Schedule a Speaker
Email [email protected] with the following information:
- Name of speaker you are interested in booking
- Date of your program
- Name of event
- Type of presentation (Keynote, Panel, Moderator, etc.)
- Topic you would like them to speak about
Meet our Speakers
Chris Swonger: President and CEO
With over 25 years of experience in the public and private sector, representing elected officials and three diverse, global consumer goods companies, Chris Swonger has led integrated corporate affairs strategies with responsibility for public affairs, international government affairs, corporate reputation management, corporate communications, brand public relations, philanthropy, social responsibility policy and programming with distinction.
Chris serves as the President & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and Responsibility.org. 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. Funded by leading distillers, Responsibility.org leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol.
David Ozgo: Senior Vice President, Economic & Strategic Analysis
David M. Ozgo has been a Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) for the past 18 years. He analyzes market trends and presents a widely anticipated industry review each year to analysts and writers that cover the industry. Mr. Ozgo is responsible for tax and regulatory impact analysis at the Council and has analyzed over 200 state level tax and regulatory proposals. Mr. Ozgo was also responsible for the economic and social impact analysis for the Council’s successful Sunday sales campaign. He also oversees the industry’s Brand Data program. He frequently testifies before legislative bodies on tax, regulatory and market access issues and is often called upon to opine on industry positions in the media.
Prior to joining DISCUS he was with the management consulting firm PHB Hagler-Bailly where he worked in the transportation and energy fields. Earlier in his career he worked for the Association of American Railroads. Mr. Ozgo received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from George Mason University.
Christine Locascio: Chief, Public Policy
Christine A. LoCascio joined the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a national trade association representing U.S. producers, marketers, exporters and importers of distilled spirits products, in 2001. Ms. LoCascio is responsible for coordinating and implementing the Council’s federal, state and international trade public policy objectives. In this role, Ms. LoCascio advocates in support of DISCUS priorities, such as securing a permanent extension of Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017, an end to the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. spirits exports, and improved market access for distilled spirits at the state level. In addition, Ms. LoCascio oversees the Distilled Spirits Council’s participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) to ensure compliance with relevant USDA regulations.
She has led successful lobbying efforts on behalf of DISCUS and in the U.S. business coalitions supporting passage of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia, Panama, Australia, Chile and Singapore, and other trade legislation, including the WTO accessions of Vietnam, Russia and China and Trade Promotion Authority.
Since February 2008, Ms. LoCascio has served as an advisor on the Agricultural Technical Committee for Trade (ATAC) in Processed Foods, which provides technical advice on U.S. agricultural trade issues to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). She also currently serves as Chair of the U.S. Department of Commerce and USTR’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Consumer Goods (ITAC 4). She is a member of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and currently serves as a Board Member of the WITA Foundation. She is also as a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council and of Women in International Trade (WIIT). She previously served as a Member of the WIIT Board of Directors.
Ms. LoCascio received her B.A. in History and Italian Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She is a current member of the Johns Hopkins SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN).
Courtney Armour: Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary
Courtney Armour joined the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she was a member of the firm’s antitrust group. At Wilson Sonsini, Armour represented clients on competition matters in complex litigation, merger advocacy, product innovation and business counseling, and both domestic and foreign government investigations. These matters involved representation before federal courts, the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and other state and foreign authorities.
Armour also served as a Competition Counsel Secondee to Google, Inc., in New York City where she managed investigations and provided counseling on product innovations and business plans, both domestic and foreign.
Prior to receiving her juris doctor degree, cum laude, from Northwestern School of Law, Armour served as DISCUS’ state government relations manager.
Dr. Samir Zakhari: Chief, Science & Health
Dr. Sam Zakhari is currently the Senior Vice President for Science for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). Previously, he spent 26 years at the National Institutes of Health, most recently as Director of Divisions of Basic Research, and Metabolism and Health Effects.
Zakhari has over 40 years of research experience in the fields of pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, physiology, genetics, and molecular biology. He authored over 85 articles and edited 15 monographs. His areas of interest are the biological factors in carcinogenesis, and the effects of alcohol on the liver and cardiovascular system, and the use of valid scientific findings in policy implementation.
Leslie Kimball: Chief, Branding & Communications
Leslie Kimball leads DISCUS’ communications and branding initiatives which includes traditional and social media strategy and implementation, advertising, and strategic partnership engagement.
Leslie previously worked in Communications and External Affairs at The Brookings Institution. She and her husband live in Washington, DC with their daughter and son. She serves as the Vice Chair of Best Buddies Capital Region and the Advisory Board of her children’s school.
Eric Reller: Chief, Strategic Initiatives
Eric is a veteran communicator focusing on policy, advocacy and strategy with more than 15 years of experience across several national trade associations.
After building a multi-disciplinary, long-term strategic framework for the spirits industry, he worked with DISCUS member companies to develop a near-term strategic plan that focused on how to best serve the spirits consumer. In his current role, he leads on emerging issues that intersect commercial and responsibility objectives to ensure coordinated and consistent positions are adopted and associated strategies are implemented.
He has previously led campaigns to achieve fair taxation and sensible regulatory policy at the state, local, federal and international level for organizations including the National Federation of Independent Business, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the American Trucking Associations, in addition to DISCUS.
Robert Maron: Vice President, International Trade
Robert Maron joined the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a national trade association representing U.S. producers, marketers, exporters and importers of distilled spirits products, in November 2013. Mr. Maron is responsible for implementing the Council’s international trade policy objectives and overseeing its export promotion activities.
In this role, Mr. Maron works to promote and protect the U.S. spirits sector’s interests in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements and to monitor and address wide-ranging regulatory developments that affect worldwide exports of U.S.-produced distilled spirits.
He has led successful lobbying efforts on behalf of DISCUS and in the U.S. business coalitions supporting passage of Trade Promotion Authority and securing Colombia’s elimination of its discriminatory excise tax on imported spirits. He has also led trade successful trade missions promoting American distilled spirits to Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Colombia, and Brazil.
In June 2019, Mr Maron was appointed to serve as an advisor on the Agricultural Technical Committee for Trade (ATAC) in Processed Foods, which provides technical advice on U.S. agricultural trade issues to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). He is also a member of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and the American Bar Association’s International Law Committee.
Mr. Maron received his B.A. from Union College, a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law, and an LL.M in International Law from the George Washington University Law School.