Board of Directors
The 2014-2016 NYSBA Board of Directors was appointed in 2013 when the association reorganized and hired its first Executive Director. The current Board members represent nearly every region of the state in both size and location of their breweries.
The NYSBA is controlled by its members and led by a Board of Directors.
The Board understands the daily challenges facing the industry and recognizes the need for this Association. We encourage each brewery, brewery related business, beer aficionado and the like to become an active member in this new and exciting organization. Collectively, we will make a difference.
Fred Matt – Saranac/FX Matt Brewing Company
Fred Matt is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, the second oldest brewery in the State of New York, and second oldest family owned Brewery in the United States. Fred is the fourth generation of the Matt Family to serve the Company, and has been with the brewery since 1989. As a key member of the management team, he has been successful in leading the Brewery into new areas of growth and the development of the Saranac brands. Instrumental in expanding the distributor network, Fred has successfully rebuilt the sales and marketing organization in order to support the growth of the Saranac brand and other new products. He also helped create the ‘Saranac Thursdays’ and ‘Saranac Concert Series’ held at the Brewery. These events have been the driving force in revitalizing the West Utica area of Varick and Court Streets, and have helped attract new local businesses. Proceeds from the events help the local United Way.
In addition to his many contributions to the success of the Brewery, Fred serves the community on the Regional Advisory Board, and the Governing Board of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, as well as the Boilermaker Road Race. He is also a past Board Member of United Way, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and the Syracuse Chiefs.
Before joining the Brewery, Fred worked for several years in New York City working for Grey Advertising and Barber Blue Sea. He received his MBA from the Simon School of Business and his BA from Hobart College.
Fred and his wife Carrie have three children.
Vice President & Treasurer
Chris Ericson – Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
Christopher Ericson is the founder, owner, and brewmaster of The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery as well The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company. The Pub opened in 1996 and continues as one of the most popular restaurants in Lake Placid, serving hungry customers and brewing almost a half-million pints of beer annually. The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company is a sister-company of the Pub and was founded in 2001. It brews, bottles, and kegs the beer which is distributed outside of the brewpub. Beers from Lake Placid Craft Brewing, including Ubu Ale, Lake Placid IPA, Leaping Cow ESB, Ubu Pumpkin, and Nippletop Stout are currently available throughout New York State and in six other eastern US states.The brewery has twice been selected as The Best Craft Brewery In New York State and individual beers have won awards at beer festivals across the United States as well as in Australia.
Christopher grew up in southern Maine, and is a 1993 graduate of Williams College. He is a past two-year chairman of the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau (ROOST), serving on the board for nine years, and was chairman of the Lake Placid branding project. He is also a founding officer in the New York State Craft Brewers Association. Prior to opening the Pub eighteen years ago, he brewed for The Shed Restaurant & Brewery in Stowe, VT and Federal Jack’s Brewpub in Kennebunkport, Maine. He operates his businesses with his wife, Catherine, and their two children, Grace (9) and CJ (5).
Rich Vandenburgh – Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
Elected to the Board of Directors for the New York State Brewers Association in 2013, and serving as an officer to the Association in the capacity as Secretary. A life long beer enthusiast, Rich and best friend John Liegey founded Greenport Harbor Brewery in 2009 in an old firehouse located in the sea side harbor village of Greenport on the East End of Long Island. Greenport Harbor Brewery holds a Farm Brewing and Micro Brewing license and has two brewing locations on the North Fork that include a restaurant, beer garden and open lawns. Rich and John believe deeply in brewing every drop of their beer on the North Fork of Long Island and protecting the authenticity and integrity of the “Indy Craft” spirit. Greenport beer can be found throughout New York State and Conn. Rich, who is also an attorney, has an extensive background in real estate management and construction experience, having developed several other locally historic properties and architecturally significant sites. Rich also serves on local municipal agencies and other boards of community organizations and has lived with his wife, Ann and their two boys on the East End for more than 25 years.
Co-Founder & President Emeritus
David Katleski – Empire Brewing Company
David Katleski is the founder and president of Empire Brewing Company and currently President Emeritus of the New York State Brewers Association, both of which have distinguished themselves by, respectively, the quality of its products and the effectiveness of its advocacy for small brewers and the many ways in which they can fairly and artfully be presented to their customers.
The brewery was founded in 1994 and has shown what it takes to survive and flourish in a crowded field, not only through top quality but also by progressive business practice. With 10 Great American Beer Festival and 3 World Beer Cup medals the quality of the beer is evident. In addition, it’s a Slow Food Snail of Approval award-winning business, partners with 60 local farmers for the production of the foods on its menu, and purchases 100% New York State renewable energy. It’s also been named one of the 20 best brewpubs in America, by both Beer Advocate and The New Brewer and the Thrillist recently named it “Top 15 Restaurants in NYS not in NYC”.The New York State Brewers Association began in 2003 with 38 breweries. The guild now works with over 190 NYS breweries and has forged an alliance with lawmakers and state wholesalers. Over the past decade Katleski has advocated for and won a myriad of reform, which include the first franchise reform legislation in the U.S. These efforts awarded him the prestigious and national Brewers Association Defense of the Industry Award in 2013.
Ethan Cox – Community Beer Works
Ethan is a co-founder and President of Community Beer Works, in Buffalo NY. Ethan began homebrewing as an undergraduate and gained deep experience while earning a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. After moving home to Buffalo in 2006, Ethan began setting the stage to transition from academics to brewing, first by writing and blogging the local craft beer scene for various print and online publications. He honed his brewing and evaluation skills, becoming President of the Niagara Association of Homebrewers & BJCP certified, and ultimately the area’s first certified Cicerone™ and a consultant for North American Breweries. In 2010, Ethan and a group of friends undertook the process of opening a nano-brewery, Community Beer Works, which began selling beer in 2012. The brewery has since won several awards and garnered state-wide and national attention.
As a board member, Ethan endeavors to represent the breweries of WNY and the smallest breweries, state-wide. A proud New Yorker (and an even prouder Buffalonian,) he believes strongly that The Empire State should be the industry leader it historically was, a state abounding in consistent & high-quality beer.
Nikki Cavanaugh – Rushing Duck
I graduated with a BA from The College of New Jersey and a Masters of Social Work and Public Policy from Rutgers University. I started working in the craft beer industry as a bartender in 2009 and continued until 2015 at craft-centric bars. In 2011, my husband, Dan, and I decided to open Rushing Duck Brewing in Chester NY. We opened our doors in 2012 as one on the first breweries in Orange County. Rushing Duck is a small family owned brewery that has grown tremendously in the last 4 years.
Kevin Mullen – Rare Form Brewing Company
Kevin Mullen is the owner and head brewer at Rare Form Brewing Company, a farm brewery in Troy, New York. Kevin started in the industry as a bartender for a craft beer-focused bar in Colorado in 1998. Since then he has lived and breathed the craft beer culture working with brewers in Colorado, Washington, and New York. With more than seven years of non-profit administration experience, Kevin has started three non-profits, currently sits on the board of two, and did post-graduate work on the effectiveness of non-profit boards. Since Rare Form has opened, Kevin has been a part of numerous NYSBA events and lobbied at the capital to represent the needs of all breweries in New York.
Chris Spinelli – ROC Brewing Company
Co-founder and CEO of Roc Brewing Co., LLC located in Rochester, NY. Roc Brewing opened in 2011 with a small 1BBL system with a brewpub and our flagships contracted. In 2014 Roc scaled up to a 7BBL brew house with all production in house and now employees 10 people with canning and draft accounts in five cities across NYS. Locally I helped to found the 585Brewers group, which is a monthly meeting of local brewers building a community through common experience. I have worked with the NYWCC to help build and promote NYS beers at the center.
Robin Ottaway – Brooklyn Brewery
Robin Ottaway is VP of Sales & Marketing and an owner of the Brooklyn Brewery. He began his career as a sales rep in Boston in 1996, eventually managing the Brewery’s Massachusetts wholesale division until its sale in 2002. Moving to Brooklyn, he switched to the supplier side, and took over management of the Brewery’s sales team. Since then, he has overseen the expansion of the Brooklyn brand into 10 new states and a dozen new countries.
Robin was raised in Egypt, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Africa and Washington, DC, by his father, a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, and mother, a college professor. His father was a colleague of Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy in the Middle East.
Robin’s Brooklyn roots run deep: His great-great-uncle, Civil War General John Blackburne Woodward, once ran for mayor of Brooklyn. Robin is active in the Brooklyn community including serving on the board of the Brooklyn Historical Society.
Kristen Lyons is the founder and owner of Binghamton Brewing Co, a Micro and Farm brewery that opened in 2014. Binghamton Brewing Co. is Beer. People. Love. Located in a century old fire station it boasts a cozy tap room that is the perfect place to relax with friends and order a pint from the diverse, ever changing line up. Over the past two years she has designed and implemented a vision of providing outstanding customer service through delicious beer.
Kristen was born and raised in Bainbridge, NY and returned to the area after attending the Air Force Academy and serving in the Air Force. She utilizes her training in leadership, education in Industrial & Systems engineering, and work experience in supply chain management to successfully guide her business. She appreciates the enthusiastic craft drinkers in New York, the collaborative members of the craft beer industry, and the valuable efforts of the New York State Brewer’s Association and is excited to serve as a member of the board and represent the best interests of NY breweries.
Originally from Connecticut, Hutch began his brewing career at the award-winning Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, OR. In 2002 he moved across the country to take a position at Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid, NY. While at Great Adirondack he received several GABF, World Beer Cup, North American Beer Awards, and TAP NY medals and was featured in Beer Advocate Magazine. After 8 years at Great Adirondack and a stint at Ithaca Beer Company Hutch moved to the Hudson Valley in 2010 as founding brewer at Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, NY. During his 5 years at Crossroads the brewery was recognized with multiple medals at GABF and World Beer Cup as well as the Matthew Vassar Cup for Best Brewery in the Hudson Valley in 2010. In 2015 Hutch was selected for his current position working with Brooklyn Brewery and the Culinary Institute of America at the newly built Brewery at the CIA, a combination production and educational facility. At the CIA he works with culinary students to create beers for the restaurants and student commons of the campus that reflect the high standards of the school while teaching the students more about brewing and the world of craft beer. Hutch is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the American Brewer’s Guild.
Randy Lacey is the Owner/Brewer of Hopshire Farm & Brewery in Freeville, NY. He was a founding board member of the Northeast Hops Alliance (NEHA), drafted early versions of the farm brewery law and with his wife, Diane Gerhart, opened Hopshire as one of the first farm breweries in the state in 2013.
Randy is a licensed professional engineer and was employed by Cornell University for nearly 40 years before retirement to concentrate on Hopshire. During the last 18 years of his work at Cornell he was Director of Facilities Engineering, a department which performs engineering and architectural design and project management.
Throughout his career Randy has been a leader in sustainability in terms of conservation, renewable energy and water conservation. In 2009 he was employed by the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden CO to create the technical content for a web base resource titled Climate Neutral Research Campuses which details measures for campuses, communities and businesses to pursue climate neutrality.
Executive Director – Paul Leone
Paul Leone began his career as a multi-media producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. He soon moved on to editing, shooting, and producing several series for cable television and later worked in the studio, agency, and advertising industry. As a TV producer, he wrote and developed several television pilots on American craft beer, the first few hosted by Dogfish Heads Sam Calagione. Although they were never picked up, he discovered his passion for craft beer, and knew what he wanted to do as a career moving forward.
After living in several parts of the country, he moved back home to New York State in 2012 and was hired as the first Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association in 2013. Since then, he has seen New York’s brewing industry double in size, many new laws passed, and has had the honor to have met hundreds of incredible and passionate brewers all over the state and country. According to Paul, working for the brewers of New York State and the incredible Board of Directors guiding the industry every day, has been a true privilege to say the least.
Membership and Events Coordinator – Donna Fennimore
A recent graduate of Marist college with her Masters Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, Donna has spent the last 5 years as a marketing manager in the SEO SEM space. She spent her Masters program learning new tools and fine-tuning her abilities to work in the craft beer world. Feeling it was time for a change, she joins the NYSBA as Events and Membership Coordinator. Donna has a true love for craft beer and feels this is a “dream job” by every definition.
Donna is born and raised in the Hudson Valley, and now lives in Westchester county. She started working in the craft beer world as a Tour Guide at Captain Lawrence Brewery, and she looks forward to improving and growing the NYSBA.
Partnerships – Meghan Connolly Haupt
Meghan joined the NYSBA in 2016 after relocating to upstate New York. She has worked in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors as senior management with a focus on communications, marketing and strategy. Meghan played a key role in producing the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix, the largest event ever to take place in Central California drawing a crowd of 150,000 attendees. She currently heads up the sponsoring partnership program and merchandising. Meghan is passionate about making “New York State” synonymous with “craft beer” nationwide.