Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, is a veteran communicator with more than 25 years of experience in governmental affairs, marketing, journalism and strategic public relations.
As KDA President, Gregory oversees all aspects of the 136-year-old association that promotes, protects and represents the Commonwealth’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry, including the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour.
Kentucky’s historic distilleries produce 95 percent of the world’s Bourbon, a rich heritage that dates back more than 200 years. Today, Bourbon is “America’s Official Native Spirit,” a leading export and a popular symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition.
Gregory joined the KDA in 2008 after seven years as Governmental Affairs Manager at East Kentucky Power Cooperative. He previously served as Vice President of Public Affairs for Preston-Osborne, a prominent Lexington public relations, marketing and research firm.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Gregory began his career as an award-winning journalist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He also served as a reporter and editor at the Honolulu Advertiser, and has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize.
Gregory is a native of Henderson, Ky. He and his wife, Ellen, live in Midway, Ky., with their three children.
And if you ask about his favorite Bourbon, his response will always be, “Kentucky Bourbon.”
Adam Johnson came to the KDA in 2012 as its first-ever Senior Director of the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experiences. Having served six years as Executive Director of the Danville/Boyle County Visitors Bureau, Johnson comes to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail from a hospitality and tourism industry background.
As Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Director, Johnson is responsible for strengthening partnerships among the Bourbon and tourism industries; working with member distilleries to manage tourism growth and solidifying Kentucky as the authentic home for Bourbon. In addition to working on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, he helps manage the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
He also has served as Assistant Director for Annual Giving at Centre College in Danville, where he graduated with a degree in History in 1997.
Colleen Thomas joined the KDA in 2016 as Bourbon Ambassador and was promoted to Director of Member and Public Affairs in 2017. She is responsible for executing events and special projects to further enhance the industry’s rich heritage, strengthen its community relations and encourage the responsible consumption of spirits and is based out of KDA’s Louisville office.
Thomas previously served as Marketing Director for Louisville-based Flavorman and its sister company, the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, where she promoted and coordinated professional training for the distilling industry and provided support for faculty, participants and graduates.
In 2014, she developed the Stave & Thief Society, the first Bourbon certification program recognized by the KDA and its iconic member companies.
She is a graduate of the University of Louisville and is a certified Executive Bourbon Steward and TiPS Trainer. She lives in Louisville with her husband and children.
Ali Edelstein joined KDA in 2017 as the organization’s first Director of Social Responsibility, after serving as Senior Sustainability Advisor at Yum! Brands. She is based out of KDA’s Louisville office.
Edelstein is responsible for aligning members’ social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and community engagement efforts to preserve the industry’s signature identity. She works with KDA members and key external stakeholders to drive collaboration and collective action on issues like overconsumption, drunk driving, and underage drinking through programming, partnerships, and policy.
Her current role builds upon her international public affairs experience managing the Fulbright Program at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.
She holds a Master of International Business from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Honors College at Western Kentucky University.
Amandalin Ryan, Homeplace Coordinator for the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, supports the Association’s work in organizational and office development, marketing, public relations, and various tourism aspects of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour. Amandalin previously served as the Visitor Center Coordinator at the Danville-Boyle County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as the Special Projects Coordinator for Preservation Kentucky. Amandalin graduated from Asbury University in 2010 with a BA in Business Management. She current resides in Danville, Kentucky with her corgi, Penny Lane.
Mary Gratzer joined KDA in 2017 as its first Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Affair. Prior to that, she served for eight years as Executive Director of the American Advertising Federation-Louisville where she was responsible for budgeting, event planning, and leadership and membership engagement. Before joining AAF-Louisville, Gratzer worked for FSA Group, an association management company, where she worked on a number of its nonprofit clients in various industries to include fine dining, corporate foodservice and consulting.
The Kentucky Bourbon Affair (KBA) launched in 2014, and has quickly become one of the industry’s most revered events. The weeklong KBA showcase is hailed for featuring daily behind-the-scenes access at the nation’s most legendary distilleries, and is the only Bourbon event produced by the distilleries themselves. Gratzer’s duties include liaising with the distillery brand managers on KBA event production, promotion and execution; building community support throughout the host city and state; developing a unified marketing campaign to drive ticket sales; and attracting partners and sponsors to support the premium and elegant Kentucky Bourbon culture.
A native-Louisvillian, Gratzer operates out of KDA’s Louisville office. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in advertising from Murray State University, and is a certified Executive Bourbon Steward.