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2020 South Regional Council Representatives Spotlight

By Amira Ansari posted 11-10-2020 10:23


@Cody Mashni
USBG South Regional Council Vice Chair

Professional Stats & Vitals: I have been a USBG member for several years and have served as Treasurer and now President of the Jacksonville chapter. I've just taken over as bar manager at The Shim Sham Room in Jacksonville Beach, FL after being Assistant Bar Manager at Dos Gatos in Downtown Jacksonville for several years.

What inspires you to be a Regional Council Representative? I enjoy the opportunity to serve my region in a more valuable way. I believe I provide valuable insight and perspective.


@Jennifer O'Blenis
USBG South Regional Council Chair

Professional Stats & Vitals: Having grown up with a family of bar and restaurant owners and managers, I’ve spent my entire life in the service industry. Throughout my career I have worked diners to white table cloth, dive bars to craft cocktails, bar manager to brand manager and a lot more in-between. My Midwest upbringing and 20 years in New Orleans have crafted my welcoming style of hospitality, and love of service to guests and community alike. I worked as seasonal staff for Tales of the Cocktail for three years, where my passion led me to the New Orleans USBG Chapter and many other service professional networks. Over the years, I have attended events and conferences such as Tales of the Cocktail, San Antonio Cocktail Conference three times, Bar Institute Austin and Miami, Portland Cocktail Week twice, and attended, and consequently join the committee for Tampa Repeal Day Conference and Gala three years in a row. I also sit on the board of the Barman's Fund of Louisiana (the only chapter that is a registered nonprofit) where we "Drink with a Purpose" and raise funds for other charities in our community.

What inspires you to be a Regional Council Representative? I became a part of the USBG New Orleans community 6 years ago as a bystander before becoming an official member the following year. I was later invited to be a part of a neighborhood representative program implemented by our chapter, that was intended as an outreach or ambassadorship to recruit new members. We were then able to see how the board operated by sitting in on their meetings. After that experience I ran for Vice President and served in that position for two years, and became President last year. When the Regional Council Leadership was created I was nominated to run for the position. As there were only three people running for the three positions that were open, we all got a seat. With it being its first year in existence there wasn't much of an agenda or tasks to handle, and I didn't see much of a purpose. But as all things with a committee process, it takes some time for a vision to come together and agendas to come to fruition. I believe that staying in the position for another term will help see goals and tasks be able to move along a bit more smoothly, while allowing the new leaders to settle into their positions. Just as the new chapter leadership model has members that roll out in different length terms, this will allow the council an easier transition. Above and beyond all of that, I am really proud of the Chapters we have in the Southern Region and want to help continue building a bridge to easier accessibility and guidance between our leaders.


@Akinde Olagundoye
USBG South Regional Council Representative

Professional Stats & Vitals: I have been a member of the USBG for several years, beginning as a member of the Birmingham chapter while living in Huntsville, AL. I traveled to Birmingham to attend events and participate in the Guild because there was no chapter in Huntsville. I just wanted to be involved. I moved to Nashville and became s member here. I am now the current President of the Nashville chapter. I have been heavily involved in the bar industry including building relationships across the industry.

What inspires you to be a Regional Council Representative? I feel that I understand and relate to most of the people in the industry. I have our best interest in mind, and I'm willing to work for the things that we all desire. I am passionate about helping others, education and community. We have had a lot of momentum here in Nashville and I feel like I could help spread that across the whole region.