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USBG Board Members Connect in 2023

By Amira Ansari posted 02-07-2023 10:19


When the USBG Board of Directors originally formed back in 2013, they made a commitment to the development of a well-informed and organized collaborative of national leaders. The USBG Board continues to hold a time-honored tradition of an annual retreat with both newly elected and outgoing Board members to connect in person, allowing them to streamline and develop strong and effective leadership strategies with a vision to the future of the USBG.

As we enter 2023, the USBG celebrates 75 years! Over the past few years, the Board has worked hard to implement positive change and embrace challenges through tact, diplomacy, and introspect. 

Attending USBG/USBG Foundation Board & National Council of Chapter members:

Donny Clutterbuck

Donny Clutterbuck

Bobby Dagostino

Bobby Dagostino
Director & 
Vice President

Raul Faria

Raul Faria
Las Vegas

Joseph Fredrickson

Joseph Fredrickson
Director & Secretary Cleveland

Kim Haasarud
(2020 - 2022)

Colleen Hughes

Colleen Hughes

Tracy Gomez

Tracy Gomez

T. Cole Newton

T. Cole Newton 
Director & President
New Orleans

T. Cole Newton

Jen O'Blenis
National Council of Chapters Chair
New Orleans

Ingrid Rodriguez

Ingrid Rodriguez
Director & Treasurer
Tampa Bay


Aaron G. Smith 
Executive Director 
San Francisco

Ingrid Rodriguez

Bradley Stephens

Ingrid Rodriguez
Kyle McHugh
USBG Foundation President
Ingrid RodriguezTrish Vodrazka
USBG Foundation Director

A few accomplishments over the past years:

In 2020, when our industry was hit by the biggest mass work disruption, ever, with the spread of Covid-19, the USBG’s charitable arm, the USBG Foundation, enacted the USBG Foundation COVID-19 Relief Campaign of the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP). The community rallied together with the generous support of numerous organizations. With their help, the USBG National Charity Foundation's Bartender Emergency Assistance Program's COVID-19 Relief Campaign disbursed $9.6 million in the form of more than 32,000 grants to hospitality workers in need.

In 2021, the Guild switched to an annual versus anniversary membership calendar, eliminating rejoin fees. Subsequently, all USBG memberships end on December 31st with a 60-day grace period through February 28th. Several campaigns were put in place to make it easier for members to join, rejoin, and renew.

USBG Annual Campaigns:

    • April 1-30: Spring Membership Drive | Rejoin and Save $25
    • July 1: New Member Drive | Membership opens up for the following year.
      • Those who join in the summer receive complimentary months of membership
    • October 1-30: Renewal Campaign | Renew and Save 10%
    • December 5: Repeal and Renew Campaign | Renew on Dec 5 and Save 10%

Group Membership:

During 2021, The Guild List, an online directory of USBG Partners and Vendors was launched to provide members an opportunity to learn more about USBG Partner services, and allowing bars, restaurants, and caterers to be listed as “Guildhouses” and recognized as supporters of the USBG.

Code of Conduct:

The USBG updated its official Member Code of Conduct for 2021. The Code’s parameters apply equally to all USBG members and stakeholders with a commitment to creating a welcoming, safe, rewarding, and collaborative environment free from harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and retaliation.

USBG Vision & Mission Statements:

In 2022, the Guild unveiled its new vision and mission statements, reflecting priorities in line with the goal of evolving the Guild along with the industry as it emerges from its worst existential threat since Prohibition.

Vision: Bartending is a respected and fun occupation in a healthy environment that builds a hub for community.

Mission: Uniting and elevating the bar industry through education, community, and advocacy.


At the Retreat

The retreat kicked off at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, California. with a Board orientation led by T. Cole, Newton, USBG President, and Aaron Gregory Smith, USBG Executive Director. During the retreat, the Board worked together, to develop a strategic plan to identify challenges, develop solutions, and clarify expectations through professional facilitation and deep deliberation. 

Megan Finnerty presented Storytelling, a seminar focusing on mentorship with a vision to the future. Alison Hart facilitated a workshop centering around strategic planning initiatives and advocacy training. Jess Pettitt hosted an inclusion and cultural sensitivity seminar.

Everyone enjoyed a lavish winery tour at Gundlach Bundshu, California's oldest continuously family-owned winery, and the third oldest winery after Buena Vista Winery. Board members stepped out of their shells through self assessments, delving into strategies to improve their weaknesses and build upon their strengths. To wrap up, committee charters were adopted and discussed.

At the Retreat

We asked a few Board members to share what they enjoyed most at this year's retreat:

Donny Clutterbuck:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat? I really enjoyed the diversity and strength of facilitation this year. The storytelling piece was uncomfortable and prompted me to think of how we convey ideas to others in a new manner. Allison’s facilitation was direct and no b.s. and I appreciated the heck out of that— I think it really brought us closer together. Jess Pettitt, as usual, brought some life-changing perspective to the table with further diversity work. Really groundbreaking stuff this year.

What motivates you to serve in 2023? I’m motivated to serve again in 2023 because I’m always motivated to find problems and solve them from an objective standpoint. I’d argue it's one of my strongest skills, and being able to tie it to the industry in which I’ve spent a vast majority of my life is something I’d have trouble passing up when given the opportunity.

What did you learn the most about? Anything new that you learned or anything that opened up your mind? Diversity work was the most enlightening bit. Seeing the cultural adaptability scores of the Board and thinking what the membership’s scores might look like explained, and why the membership in some cases sees the Board as elitist or separate from the membership, somehow. One step closer to tying the Board back to the membership and representing the organization’s interests appropriately.


Bobby Dagostino:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat? As much as I loved having Dan the past few retreats I really like Allison and her more direct approach. Liked the sessions with Megan and of course Jess is always a pleasure. It's amazing how much we get done in person than when doing meetings over Zoom.

What motivates you to serve in 2023? I've been a member for 10 years and tending for 40 years. The first couple years when I joined I couldn't believe how much I didn't know and how much BS is out there about spirits and brands. 75th anniversary. The industry itself.

What did you learn the most about? Anything new that you learned or anything that opened up your mind? Don't leave anything in your rental car if you have out of state plates.

Happy Hour


Raul Faria:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat? Collaborative discussions, Allison’s insights and guidance in discussions and our steps toward advocacy.

What motivates you to serve in 2023?
Making sure the USBG serves its members and the communities. Making sure that we are facilitators of local innovation and creativity.

What did you learn the most about? Anything new that you learned or anything that opened up your mind? More clarity on our advocacy plan.


Colleen Hughes:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat?  It’s always great to get the Board together in such a beautiful place. And I’m super excited to have Brad join us on the Board.

What motivates you to serve in 2023? I will definitely say that Board work has made me better at strategic thinking, in general. Typically, in my daily job as a bartender I am always trying to do everything. Being on the Board is thinking about things and big pictures and trusting in other people to carry them out. I’m super excited about the 75th.. it will be amazing to have all the chapters together in one place.

                                                                                                   At the Retreat & Wine Tour


Bradley Stephens:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat?
For me it was creating new or stronger bonds with the rest of the board and our Executive Director. Being the new Director, this trip was more about absorbing information, learning, and sorting out how I as a newly elected leader can be best used to serve our community. 

What motivates you to serve in 2023? Knowing the level of commitment our team has to improve our volunteer service to our members. Our board and ED constantly spoke about what we are doing now and what we can do to be better. This is something that all leadership teams need to be constantly asking themselves and I am highly motivated to have a voice in the exciting things coming in 2023 and beyond. 

What did you learn the most about? Anything new that you learned or anything that opened up your mind? Honestly I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but being the new person in the room, what I learned most was a more clear description of what the job actually entails. I have sat on chapter level boards since the adoption of governance 3.0, and am still learning new things about the board role and how to achieve more successes in it. 


Trish Vodrazka:

What did you enjoy most about the retreat? The camaraderie and respect for one another throughout the retreat. Peaceful surroundings and the hospitality and food by the staff. Understanding more about Strategic Planning. Also, receiving the news that the 75th Anniversary of USBG will be in my home state!

What motivates you to serve in 2023? To continue to serve our members and to make the priority to their needs, professional development and our future. Our 75th Anniversary of USBG is also a proud moment for all of us and I am grateful to be able to be a part of it in the city of Phoenix.

What did you learn the most about? Anything new that you learned or anything that opened up your mind? All of the guest speakers. Storytelling Strategic planning.

At the Retreat

“As we enter 2023, we are proud to recognize that our Board is made up of extremely dedicated and driven leaders that hold a passion for our industry and the heart and soul that is the United States Bartenders' Guild.” – Aaron Gregory Smith, USBG Executive Director.