KDA announces new Director of Industry Responsibility and Sustainability

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has announced Sara Barnes has joined the non-profit trade group as Director of Industry Responsibility and Sustainability.

In a news release issued Tuesday, KDA officials call Barnes an industry veteran who comes from the Bourbon Women Association where she spent two years as Managing Director. She previously served for four years at Boone County Distilling Co. as Marketing and Events Coordinator and guided many public relations, responsibility, marketing and other duties.

“Sara is well-known and widely respected throughout our signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry for her professional, thoughtful and visionary approach,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “She is driven, determined and passionate about our industry’s standing and success.”

Gregory says Barnes has been a key voice in KDA’s diversity, equity and inclusion panel to create meaningful change and systemic reforms within the industry, “Combined with an outstanding work ethic, she is a perfect fit to help lead our members in these critical areas. We proudly welcome her to our team.”

Barnes said, “I am excited about the challenge and the thought-provoking work of the legacy projects with the KDA in sustainability, social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion. I look forward to leading change and strengthening the industry’s commitment to these goals for the future.”

The KDA created the position in 2016 to strengthen the industry’s significant commitment to social responsibility and sustainability through collective action. According to KDA, Barnes will also coordinate educational and workforce development opportunities in partnership with Kentucky higher education institutions.

“Sara has been a driving force behind Bourbon Women for the past two years and we are incredibly proud of her work being recognized by the KDA,” said Bourbon Women Chair Heather Wibbels. “We look forward to our continued relationship.”

Kentucky Bourbon is an $8.6 billion economic engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion million each year, according to the KDA. In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $2.3 billion building boom, from new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.

According to the KDA, bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360 percent since the turn of the century, with Kentucky distillers filling 2.1 million barrels in 2019. That was the second year in a row that distillers filled two million barrels – and the first time in the modern era.

Gregory said KDA members have greatly benefited from collaborative responsibility and sustainability initiatives over the years, from state-of-the-art ID verification technology to ride-sharing partnerships and sustainability efforts like the University of Kentucky’s White Oak Initiative.

“We have much more work to do to ensure the responsible and moderate consumption of alcohol, prepare our industry and our workforce for generations to come, and cultivate a culture of diversity, inclusivity and meaningful engagement,” said Gregory. “We look forward to introducing Sara to our partners and stakeholders in these areas and working together to grow our signature industry in the right way. We can only succeed when the communities in which we work and live thrive as well.”

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