This week, 30 emerging and advancing craft brewing industry professionals begin a 12-week virtual experience as the inaugural cohort of the Brewers Association Mentorship Program. The mentorship program seeks to increase the diversity of the workforce, leadership, and ownership of small and independent breweries by providing structured mentoring and advocacy to those experiencing barriers to access or advancement. The program’s first cohort of 30 was selected from nearly 270 applicants by the Mentorship and Professional Development Subcommittee, one of four recently formed subcommittees of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee.
“The decision-making process for this inaugural cohort of mentees was so challenging because of the number of extraordinary candidates we had the pleasure of reading about,” said Christina Sayer, co-founder of Brewery Legitimus in New Hartford, Connecticut and member of the Mentorship and Professional Development Subcommittee. “While deciding on the final 30 candidates was difficult, it gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance of this program, for those selected and for those who will participate in the years to come.”
The Brewers Association Mentorship Program leverages the breadth of professional experience and industry resources represented by the Brewers Association and its membership, offering program participants exposure to expertise in a wide range of industry roles. Between a week-long orientation and a closing week of one-on-one career planning, program participants complete five, two-week rotations with five different mentors—one in each area of interest selected during the application process. More than 120 industry professionals applied to mentor in technical brewing, serving and tasting beer, guest experience, brewery safety, event planning and management, human resources, management, marketing and branding, sales and distribution, and brewery finance.
The DEI Committee began developing the mentorship program in 2019. The original program format included face-to-face interactions in pre-defined professional tracks. The spread of COVID-19 forced a change of direction for the committee and then diversity ambassador, J Jackson-Beckham. “Like so many others, we had to rethink what we were offering and rebuild the program from the ground up,” said Jackson-Beckham, who now serves as the Brewers Association’s equity and inclusion partner and oversees the mentorship program. “Ultimately, I think we are better positioned to make more substantive changes for the careers of more people with the program we’ve launched.”
The Brewers Association envisions a craft brewing industry that provides unmatched opportunities for learning, professional development, employment, entrepreneurship, belonging, and empowerment to everyone, regardless of identities, experiences, or perspectives.
The fall 2021 cohort of the Brewers Association Mentorship Program will begin on September 20, 2021. Applications will be accepted from July 15 – August 31.