The board of directors of the Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) is pleased to announce that Karissa Kruse has accepted the position of president, replacing Nick Frey as he retires. Kruse will assume the role as of May 1, though Frey will stay on in a reduced capacity through the end of 2013 to ensure a smooth transition and support Kruse and the board as an advisor.
The promotion brings to completion an 18-month recruiting and succession planning process for the Sonoma County Winegrowers, who recruited Karissa for the role of marketing director in August 2012. During the exhaustive search and interview process, the search committee and the board knew that they had found someone special who had the potential to replace Frey. As his retirement process began, the executive committee and a five-person task force interviewed Kruse as an internal candidate before making a decision to open the position broadly. With a unanimous recommendation to promote Kruse, the board is confident that she is the right person to lead the grower community.
“Karissa’s strong marketing background and ability to build relationships will help us maintain and grow the momentum that the (Sonoma County) Winegrowers have experienced over the past four years with the collaboration of the Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Vintners,” said John Balletto, board chair. “Nick has been an integral part of forging the path for growers for over 14 years, and now we are ready for Karissa to evolve the organization and represent us moving forward.”
In her short tenure as marketing director, Karissa has developed an 18-month strategic plan, undertook the leadership of a community outreach program, and has developed relationships with Sonoma County Tourism and Vintners and many in the growing community.
“Karissa has been a great addition to the commission staff in just 6 months. She is quick to learn and motivated to represent growers’ interests to the wine trade and local community,” said Frey. “Karissa’s experience and energy are what is needed to continue moving the commission to new heights.”
Kruse comes to the SCW with both a BA in economics and an MBA in marketing from the Wharton School of Business. She has worked for companies such as General Mills, Universal Studios and Dairy Management, in which she worked for 7 years on behalf of dairy farmers nationally. She is the owner of a 25-acre parcel in Bennett Valley, with 5 acres planted to grapes. Kruse understands the needs and concerns of growers, being one herself, and brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to the position.