Ninkasi Brewing Announces Leadership Changes

Cheryl Collins, the new CEO of Ninkasi Brewing with co-founder Nikos Ridge. (photo courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing)

Ninkasi Brewing announced three leadership changes today. First off Cheryl Collins, the brewery’s current Chief Operations Officer (COO) has been promoted to become the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective May 1, 2017. Current CEO and brewery co-founder, Nikos Ridge, will assume the role of brewery President and will remain on the brewery’s board.

Other announcements include two other key roles. Daniel Sharp, Ph.D., is now the Director of Brewing Operations and Sarah Johnson has been promoted to become the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) that oversees marketing, sales and innovation.

These are some big announcements to the eleven-year-old brewers as Ninkasi Brewing continues to expand its distribution footprint. The brewery is now the 33rd largest craft brewer in the United States and promoting Collins will now allow Ridge to focus on more effectively on company strategy along with operational and strategic improvements.

Here is more information from Ninkasi Brewing’s press release…

“The first 10 years of Ninkasi were about inventing ourselves as a company: bringing to life the vision Jamie and I both had, to now a brewery employing over 100 people,” says Ridge. “The next chapter of Ninkasi is about taking the capabilities and teams we’ve built and aligning them even more to better serve our customers and craft beer fans.”

Current chief operations officer, Cheryl Collins, began her career with Ninkasi in 2012 and has held senior roles at the brewery including VP of organizational development and chief people officer. With over a decade of organizational leadership experience, Collins has been recognized for her exceptional contributions to organizational development: she received the Recruiter of the Year Award from the University of Oregon, the Manager of the Year Award from the Willamette Chapter Credit Union Association, and two national awards from the Credit Union National Association for development and execution of training programs. She has been featured in industry publications as a thought leader for small business best practices and last year appeared as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Manufacturers’ Summit.

“Nikos and Jamie have done an amazing job building Ninkasi to what it is today; it’s an immense honor to become the next CEO,” states Collins.  “I look forward to continuing our commitment to our core purpose– Perpetuate Better Living—and working with our teams to develop innovative approaches to how we do business.”

During her time at Ninkasi Collins spearheaded employee recruitment, training and onboarding programs, implemented Continuous Improvement strategies and best practices across brewery operations, fostered teambuilding activities to nurture organizational culture, implemented safety protocols and initiatives, facilitated leadership development, contributed to employer branding, and helped oversee the leadership and implementation of company strategies.

“Cheryl has worked closely with every department across Ninkasi and is a pivotal force in pushing our teams to their full potential,” says Ridge. “Her leadership, coaching and strategic focus make this transition an obvious step forward.”

“It’s inspiring to be a part of a community with the level of commitment and engagement we see here at Ninkasi,” explains Collins. “You feel, believe and know you are part of something bigger than yourself; that level of inspiration is what we strive for every day.”

“This transition marks a milestone as we continue to evolve into a more mature company,” states Ridge. “Now that we have established ourselves with world class brewing facilities and an exceptional team, Cheryl’s leadership will focus on strengthening our capabilities in an ever-changing industry.”

Effective May 1, 2017, Ridge will assume the role of president and will remain a member of the brewery’s board, contributing to company strategy while deepening his daily focus into operational and strategic improvements.

Daniel Sharp, Ph.D., Director of Brewing Operations. (image courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing)

Joining Ninkasi last year, Daniel came on board as our director of brewing process development focused on improving our capabilities and leading educational and research efforts across the company. His new role as our director of brewing operations includes leading and coordinating our teams across brewing, cellaring and quality.

Like his title suggest, Daniel holds a Doctorate from Oregon State University in Food Science and Technology. His research studies focused on brewing factors that contribute to hop aroma in beer. Daniel has taught undergraduate courses in brewing science and has presented his hop aroma research at the Craft Brewer’s Conference, both the regional and national Master Brewers Association of the Americas meetings, and the World Brewing Congress. Additionally, he has received research awards from the Barth-Haas hop group and the American Society of Brewing Chemists. Basically, he loves hops.

Daniel is not new to the Ninkasi family. In 2010 he interned with our quality team while attending and completing his Doctorate. Daniel’s scientific and educational approach to our brewing operations is an exciting addition to our leadership.

Sarah Johnson, Chief Customer Officer. (image courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing)

Sarah came to us with a wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry. Initially joining as our director of retail partnerships in 2016, Sarah will transition to her new role as our chief customer officer, integrating sales, marketing and innovation teams under her leadership.

Previous to joining us in Eugene, Sarah was the director of food & beverage at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. There she was the Resort’s resident beer expert with a Certified Cicerone® title, the first female in Nevada to earn this distinction.

Sarah’s love for beer began while attending the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, where she began to develop an in-depth knowledge of beer in the city. In 2005, she became Chef de Partie in the chocolate kitchen of Wynn Resort before moving to miX restaurant at Mandalay Bay where she began to gain experience in culinary administration. Sarah later earned a promotion to director of food & beverage for Mandalay Bay and decided it was time to take her love for beer seriously and began to study for the Certified Cicerone exam. She expanded her knowledge of the ancient beverage in order to complete the extensive exam that designates an expertise in “selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.”

Sarah’s depth of beer, food and leadership experience make her an exceptional addition to our teams. We are thrilled to elevate the work of our sales and marketing with her guidance.

About Ninkasi Brewing Company
Founded in 2006 by Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi Brewing Company continues to grow from its first batch of Total Domination IPA, to two brewhouses, a 55-barrel and a 90-barrel brewhouse, located in Eugene, Ore. Ninkasi’s Flagship beers—Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops Double IPA, Dawn of the Red IPA, Easy Way IPA, Hop Cooler Citrus IPA, Pacific Rain Northwest Pale, Helles Belles Helles Lager, and Vanilla Oatis Oatmeal Stout—are sold throughout Alaska; Alberta; Arizona; California; D.C.; Colorado; Idaho; Maryland; Nevada; New York; Oregon; Texas; Utah; Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. The brewery remains privately-owned and is committed to community support and giving. Ninkasi’s Beer Is Love program offers in-kind donations and support for organizations throughout its footprint. For more information, call 541.344.2739 or visit