Today the Oregon Brewers Guild announced a change in its leadership as Tony Roberts, Co-Executive Director departs the organization to take a position at a Portland law firm. Christina LaRue will continue on and take on the role as sole Executive Director of the organization that is facing severe financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both LaRue and Roberts took over the leadership roles at the Oregon Brewers Guild in early 2019 after the sudden departure of longtime Executive Director Brian Butenschoen. Under the new leadership the public facing side of the Guild essentially vanished when the Supporters of Native Oregon Beer (S.N.O.B.) membership group was dissolved. Since then the Guild has concentrated on addressing brewery concerns as it relates to legislative efforts on behalf of its member breweries.
Going forward there could be some logistical issues as LaRue is based in Bend as Roberts is based in Portland, a region of the state where a majority of the breweries are located in. When Roberts leaves the Guild at the end of the month his position will not be replaced.
Here are additional details from today’s press release…
“This wasn’t part of the plan, but the pandemic has caused disruption for all of our businesses, and the Guild is no different,” said Board President and Occidental Brewing Founder Dan Engler. “This highlights the unique needs of state guilds, and we hope the Senate will pass assistance for member organizations, help that was already approved by the U.S. House over two months ago.”
Roberts joined the Guild in February 2019, and focused on government affairs, marketing and operations.
“This was a gut-wrenching decision – it’s been a true joy to advocate for an iconic industry with so many incredible people. Under normal circumstances, I would never leave this job. Unfortunately, a global pandemic changes your decision-making process,” Roberts said. “That said, the Guild is in great hands with the board and Christina. She’s been in the Oregon beer industry for nearly 15 years. The majority of our breweries haven’t been around that long! Her experience and connections are invaluable to the Guild, and we will continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition.”
LaRue joined the Guild as co-executive director in January 2019, and has previously worked at Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery and Worthy Brewing Co. She is based in Bend.
“It truly pains me to see Tony go, and I know that it was not an easy decision for him to make. Through his steadfastness and dedication over the past year and a half, we have been able to accomplish significant work toward our mission of protecting Oregon craft beer. He is passionate about our industry, which is why I know that he will continue to be an advocate for it,” LaRue said. “I wish only the best for Tony in his new journey – we may no longer be co-workers, but I feel that I have made a friend for life. I know that the road ahead will have its challenges, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it is to be resilient and that change is the only constant.”
The Oregon Brewers Guild was founded in 1992. Its mission is to protect and promote craft breweries in Oregon.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.