The Brewers Association’s (BA) efforts to foster equity in the craft brewing community through its mentorship program has for 15 months connected dozens of mentors with entrepreneurs, professionals looking to develop their knowledge and skills, and those seeking to break into the craft brewing industry for the first time.
With the program now in its second year, the BA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Mentorship and Professional Development Subcommittee and staff is pleased to recognize a volunteer mentor who provides outstanding mentorship to program participants and shows an uncommon commitment to championing those who experience barriers to access and advancement in their professional journeys with the Brewers Association Mentor of the Year Award.
After collecting nominations from participants in the mentorship program’s first two cohorts, Alana Koenig-Busey, DEI project coordinator and program director for the mentorship program, shared that two deserving mentors will receive the inaugural award for their generous contributions to the program. Annette May, a founding faculty member of the Schoolcraft College Brewing and Distillation Technology program and the first woman to become a Certified Cicerone®, and Ramon Tamayo, brewing manager for Magnolia Brewing Co, are the 2021 mentors of the year.
Participants who nominated these mentors had much to say about their guidance, kindness, and leadership.
“I got a life-changing opportunity out of [the mentorship program]. Less than a year ago, I was an office supervisor. Today I’m a brewer in one of the coolest cities,” said former mentee Julie Perez, who nominated Tamayo. Tamayo, who continues to mentor in the program, provides mentorship in technical brewing and brewery safety, and has worked with participants in all stages of career development.
Barb Baker was one of several participants who nominated May.
“She…was just an amazing person in helping me piece things together, pairings, tastings,” Baker said. “She always called me and asked [if I] was getting concepts together, was I studying, what was I reading. Annette is a true mentor 365 days of the year.” May, who also continues to actively mentor in the program and who joined the mentorship and development subcommittee, provides mentorship in serving and tasting beer and craft beer 101 for aspiring and advancing professionals.
Both mentors understand just how important it is to share their knowledge and take the time to be part of this program.
“As a brewing community, we need to help facilitate the continued growth of our members,” Tamayo said. “It’s important not only to show them that it is possible for them to be part of the community but to help them thrive in our community by giving them resources to be successful.”
“Through this program, I’ve been able to meet so many great people, both fellow mentors and mentees,” Tamayo continued. “To hear so many wonderful stories on why people wanted to get into the beer industry, and their lives and circumstances that led them to where they are is truly inspiring and rekindles that joy that got us all here, love of beer, and a community to share a cold one with.”
Mentee Simon Chen remembered Tamayo fondly from his time in the spring 2021 cohort.
“You were always super welcoming and available with your time and knowledge,” Chen said. “I appreciate the effort and just making yourself open to myself and my partner Johnny. It definitely influenced our decision to give it a shot ourselves and start our own brewing company in the Bay Area.”
Both mentors will be honored at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference® in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The BA recently announced its third Mentorship Program cohort with 34 participants, making it the largest cohort to date.
“This was a great program, and Annette May just was that extra shining star that has given us all a little bit of confidence in moving forward with our experiences in the brewing industry,” Rhyann Davis, a former mentee and current head brewer and brewery owner at Cursed Brewing said. “I’m just thankful for the whole program.”