Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, is a veteran communicator with more than 30 years of experience in governmental affairs, marketing, journalism and strategic public relations.
As KDA President, Gregory oversees all aspects of the 141-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 two dogs.
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® Senior 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. Johnson currently resides in Danville, Kentucky with his wife and daughter Campbell, and his board game collection.
Colleen Thomas joined the KDA in 2016 as Bourbon Ambassador and was promoted to Senior Director of Marketing & Member Services in 2020. 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.
Sara Barnes joined the KDA team in 2021 as the Director of Industry Responsibility & Sustainability. The KDA created the position in 2016 to strengthen the industry’s significant commitment to social responsibility and sustainability through collective action. Barnes also will coordinate educational and workforce development opportunities in partnership with Kentucky higher education institutions.
Barnes comes to the KDA from the Bourbon Women Association where she spent two years as Managing Director. She previously served for over two years at Boone County Distilling Co. as Marketing and Events Coordinator and guided many public relations, responsibility, marketing and other duties.
A South Carolina native, Barnes is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, an Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave & Thief Society, trained in responsibility measures through STAR, TIPS and ServSafe, and a member of the KDA DEI Advisory Panel.
Barnes resides in Union, Kentucky with her husband, two dogs, many chickens, turkeys, and the barn cat that adopted her.
Amandalin (Mandy) Ryan joined the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 2013 as the Homeplace Coordinator and has held various titles until being promoted to the Director of Marketing in 2020. Ryan supports the Association’s work in marketing, public relations, member communications, and partner relations.
Ryan previously served as the Visitor Center Coordinator at the Danville-Boyle County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as the Special Projects Coordinator for Preservation Kentucky.
Ryan graduated from Asbury University in 2010 with a BA in Business Management. She currently resides in Danville, Kentucky with her husband and stepdaughter.
Marielle McElmurray joined the KDA team in 2021 as the Special Projects Manager. Her role provides support to the entire staff in the areas of marketing, event coordination, data management, and various administrative duties.
McElmurray comes to the KDA from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy where she spent three years as Director of Public Affairs. She previously worked at the Legislative Research Commission as an assistant to the House and Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committees.
A Georgia native, McElmurray is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. She is a former board member of Kentucky Women in Agriculture and Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom boards, as well as an acting member of the Kentucky Agricultural Council and Kentucky Horse Council.
McElmurray resides in Frankort, Kentucky with her husband and her dog Doc.