Board of Directors

Colleen Brennan

Rodney Strong Vineyards

Colleen Brennan is a wine industry professional recognized for her innovative sales and marketing achievements which span over 20 years in the beverage and restaurant industries. She is currently vice president of national accounts for Rodney Strong Wine Estates, where she is responsible for business development, marketing, strategic planning, budgeting and sales for all on premise national account chains. Prior to joining Rodney Strong in 2012, she was director of global accounts and the on-premise marketing specialist at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates where she supervised sales to more than 30 restaurant chains. In this role, she increased sales by 65% over a six-year period and was recognized as the 2007 Salesperson of the Year for Antinori Italian wine brand.

Brennan has also held executive level positions with leading restaurant companies including O’Charley’s and Cypress Companies. She served as director of beverage marketing at O’Charley’s, in charge of managing and growing beverage programs and profits for the restaurant chain’s 200 locations. Brennan’s consultative and creative approach to sales and marketing includes developing an innovative wine and spirits training tool for servers at O’Charley’s that dramatically increased product knowledge and beverage sales. She also created successful incentive contests that boosted sales and team member morale. One promotion resulted in over 200,000 incremental beverages sold during the first 10 weeks alone, representing a 200% increase in sales of one featured drink which became O’Charley’s top-selling beverage. Brennan’s creative strategies earned her a Cheers Beverage Excellence Award for best beverage promotion during this time. As director of restaurant marketing at Cypress Companies, owner of several chain concepts including Denny’s, Houlihan’s and An Tobar Irish Pub, she oversaw all marketing activities for 60 restaurants and pubs across five states. Brennan began her restaurant industry career at Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar and Grill where she served as a field marketing manager for all corporate-owned locations in Florida.

Brennan currently serves on the Board of Directors for The California Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation and on the Board of Directors for Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE). She has also served on several industry boards including the American Beverage Institute (Committee Chairperson),Cheer’s Magazine and the Millennium Group. Brennan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from Yale University.

Joe Smith

Past Chair of the Board / Monin Gourmet Flavorings

Joe has over 40 years of sales and management experience in the food and beverage industry. Currently the Senior Vice President of Sales at Monin and responsible for all sales in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, Joe’s leadership over the last ten years has guided Monin towards many beverage excellence honors by valued customers and organizations. These include the Cheers Small Non-Alcoholic Beverage Supplier of the Year award nine years in a row, and Vibe’s Non-Alcoholic Supplier of the Year 2010. Additionally, OSI has named Monin Supplier of the Year for each of the last four years and Darden has bestowed on Monin the William B.
Darden Award. Prior to joining Monin, Joe’s career included major accomplishments in sales and sales management positions at Ocean Spray Canberries,Inc. and Hills Brothers Coffee. Joe is currently on the Board for CORE, Children of Restaurant Employees, and an active member of ABI. A graduate of Northeastern University, he splits his time at home between Boston and Florida.

Brian Yost

Secretary of the Board / Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

Brian is a veteran of 37 years in the hospitality industry. He was President, On Site Products, North American Concerts for Live Nation, with responsibility for ancillary revenue streams for Live Nations’ 42 amphitheaters and 6 select clubs and theaters, which host 13 million music fans at close to 1400 shows annually. Brian began his professional career with Marriott Hotels and Resorts in property-based positions, where he rose through the ranks in restaurants, bars and catering, ending up a Director of Food and Beverage at a young age.

Brian’s next opportunity came with a move to France, where he was a proud member of the pre-opening and opening teams of the Euro Disney Resort complex. After three years in France, Brian returned to the States, where he continued his tenure with Disney at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island, responsible for the day to day operation of this retail, dining and entertainment complex.

From Pleasure Island and Disney, Brian moved to Universal Studios, Florida, where he spent a brief time heading up the operational development of Universal’s City Walk there. After that stint, he returned to Marriott International, spending almost eight years in restaurants and beverage at the corporate level, eventually becoming corporate Vice President, Global Restaurants and Beverage.

Brian joined Harrah’s Entertainment in June 2005 as Vice President, Global F&B Operations and was responsible for leading the strategic direction of the food and
beverage programming for the world’s largest casino company. After that role, he transitioned into a position on the corporate development team, in which Brian
was charged with international concept and new project development for the casino company.

When not working on ways to help others achieve their business objectives, Yost remains active in the industry through his participation in numerous advisory
boards, as well as through his role as a member of the Board of the 501 (c)(3) charity Children Of Restaurant Employees (CORE).

Sherry King

Treasurer of the Board / IMI Agency

Sherry is currently CFO of IMI Agency and has been a part of the CORE accounting process since its’ inception. In 2015, she was honored to become more of an integral part of CORE as the Treasurer. She came to IMI originally in 1999 through the CPA firm where she worked as a traveling, part-time Controller for several small to midsize businesses in metropolitan Atlanta. In 2003 she was given the opportunity to work solely with IMI as their Accountant and became CFO in 2008. Her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Kennesaw State University has allowed her to work in a variety of interesting businesses over the last 30 years, ranging from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia to a Kendall Motor Oil distributor. None of those experiences have been able to compete with the energy of the beverage industry and the heart of CORE. After making all the numbers work, Sherry makes lots of happy memories with her daughter.

Mara Lee

Founding Member / Total Beverage Solution

Mara wants to live in a world where dinnerware, flatware and glassware are the hottest topic of conversation
over the culinary creations of highly acclaimed chefs and trending cocktails by the most sought after
bartenders. As both a sales and marketing guru with more than 14 years of experience in Hospitality &
Beverage, she has worked for Cardinal International, Constellation Brands, Beam Suntory, and IMI Agency,
and Villeroy & Boch. Her roles have always centered around the PEOPLE, which motivated her to be a part of something bigger—a co-founder and Board Member of CORE that supports the people and families that service all of our businesses. When she’s not strategizing her next hotel opening or customizing innovation solutions for chain accounts, you can find her training, helping others with health goals, posted up at a hipster bar sipping craft beer and wine or watching her favorite sports teams—the Steelers, Spartans and the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Soccer teams.

Larry McGinn

Founding Member / IMI Agency

Larry joined IMI Agency in 2000, following 23 years on the alcohol and non-alcohol National Accounts Supplier side of the business. After working for Suppliers who support National Beverage Programs (Anheuser-Busch, Paddington, DIAGEO and Island Oasis), Larry joined IMI Agency and over the past 15 years led the building of IMI’s Hospitality Client roster to over 30 National On-Premise Chains. Obsessively dedicated to Building Better Beverage Business with each IMI Client, Larry and his Team become each Client’s strategic beverage consultant and legally permissible activation arm in creating effective and profitable beverage programs. Larry’s proudest accomplishment in his 38 years in the industry is assisting in the establishment and growth of CORE.

John Niekrash

Salute American Vodka | FOUNDING MEMBER

John Niekrash is a 37-year veteran of the spirits industry. John says of his work on the CORE Board of Directors, “I consider being a Founding Member of CORE and being a part of such a heartfelt and beneficial charity the most rewarding achievement of my career.” John recently accepted a position as President of Salute American Vodka.

Jeffrey Bartfield

Proximo Spirits

Jeffrey began his sales and marketing career as a second-generation employee of the Joseph E. Seagram
Company in New York City in 1978 and currently serves as the Vice President of National Accounts at
Proximo Spirits.

Michael Bekolay

Venue Hospitality Solutions

Michael is the current SVP of Innovation and Customer Service at Legends Hospitality. He has over 25 years of experience in the concessions F&B world, having worked with and maintained contacts at most of the major industry leaders in that segment. Additionally, Michael has been the advocate for CORE within the Legends organization and continues to a supporter through their hosting of events and annual membership.

Barry Gutin

GuestCounts Hospitality

As Principal and Co-founder of GuestCounts Hospitality, Barry provides the vision, strategy and leadership behind its unique restaurant, nightlife and catering concepts. Barry has led the development of distinctive
concepts that have transformed dining, nightlife and special event scenes on the East Coast. Barry and his business partner, Larry Cohen, have built a growing multi-division company with revenue exceeding $40
million. Prior to forming GuestCounts Hospitality, Barry operated some of the most impressive and successful food, beverage and entertainment facilities in the Northeast. In addition to his experience in food and beverage operations, he has expertise in marketing, public relations and entertainment production. Barry has a longstanding involvement with Nightclub & Bar/NCB Media Group, the leading national online resource and
convention and trade show for the on-premise alcoholic beverage industry. Barry currently serves as Vice Chairman of its Advisory Board, and speaks at its annual conference and tradeshow. Barry is regularly tapped
as an authority to present at other major hospitality conferences including, Chain Leader Live and G2E’s Global Gaming Expo and is frequently quoted for his expertise in various consumer and trade publications.
Barry also serves on the Advisory Council of non-profit CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees). Barry grew up in the Bronx, New York. In 1973, at the age of 18, he and his family moved from New York when his
father became a partner in Atlantic City’s long-established Stanley Restaurant. The family remained in South New Jersey opening a restaurant/bar in a new regional shopping mall in Deptford in 1975. While working at
his father’s new restaurant, Barry attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1979.As Principal and Co-founder of GuestCounts Hospitality, Barry provides the vision, strategy and leadership behind its unique restaurant, nightlife and catering concepts. Barry has led the development of distinctive concepts that have transformed dining, nightlife and special event scenes on the East Coast. Barry and his business partner, Larry Cohen, have built a growing multi-division company with revenue exceeding $40 million. Prior to forming GuestCounts Hospitality, Barry operated some of the most impressive and successful food, beverage and entertainment facilities in the Northeast. In addition to his experience in food and beverage operations, he has expertise in marketing, public relations and entertainment production. Barry has a longstanding involvement with Nightclub & Bar/NCB Media Group, the leading national online resource and convention and trade show for the on-premise alcoholic beverage industry. Barry currently serves as Vice Chairman of its Advisory Board, and speaks at its annual conference and tradeshow. Barry is regularly tapped as an authority to present at other major hospitality conferences including, Chain Leader Live and G2E’s Global Gaming Expo and is frequently quoted for his expertise in various consumer and trade publications. Barry also serves on the Advisory Council of non-profit CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees). Barry grew up in the Bronx, New York. In 1973, at the age of 18, he and his family moved from New York when his father became a partner in Atlantic City’s long-established Stanley Restaurant. The family remained in South New Jersey opening a restaurant/bar in a new regional shopping mall in Deptford in 1975. While working at his father’s new restaurant, Barry attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1979.

Sharyn Iler

President of BSI Conferences

Sharyn is President of BSI Conferences, Inc., creators and producers of The Flavor Experience, a leading food & beverage conferences for corporate level chain executives in culinary, beverage, marketing, and
related fields. Sharyn is co-creator of the VIBE Beverage Conference. Prior to working at BSI Conferences, Sharyn consulted to leading companies in the food & beverage industry to develop or renew events and
special programs for their business, including Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Business, and Hospitality Design and multiple major beverage firms. She was employed as the NRA Board of Directors’
and Political Action Committee liaison. Sharyn is also a mentor and Judge for ProStart, an educational program for students interested in the careers in the foodservice industry. The Flavor Experience invites
accomplished ProStart students to work at the conference each year. Sharyn lives with her husband and business partner, Bruce Iler, in Ventura CA, their definition of paradise.

LaMonte Jones

PepsiCo. Foodservice

LaMonte Jones is currently a Director for PepsiCo Foodservice, headquartered in White Plains, NY. He is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the Sales & Marketing – Emerging & Fast Casual Restaurant team for the United States. LaMonte is a 21 year veteran of PepsiCo with past assignments leading the U.S. Multi-Cultural Marketing agenda during his tenure at Pepsi Bottling Group’s headquarters in Somers, NY and the sales and marketing department at PepsiCo Direct in Winston-Salem, NC. With an enthusiastic and genuinely friendly attitude, LaMonte radiates a sincere passion for delivering value and benefits to his customers and network of colleagues. An accountant and marketer by vocation, LaMonte earned his B.S. & MBA in Business Administration at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. After graduating, he spent 10 years at Household Finance Corporation (HFC) in various management roles leading up to the AVP, Assistant to the President; where he led several key Human Resource projects across the U.S. He is currently pursuing his PhD in management. Among many internal accolades, LaMonte’s recognition includes 2008, Who’s Who in Atlanta, 2009 Atlanta’s 100 Most Influential Men, and 2010 Top 40 Emerging Young Leaders. In addition to Warrick Dunn Charities, he is a board member for the Greater North Fulton County Chamber of Commerce. Today, LaMonte resides in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife Sophia and sons Jejuan and Julian. He is an active member of Word of Faith Family Cathedral Church where Bishop Dale C. Bronner is the presiding senior pastor.

Ryan Maher

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Ryan Maher joins the CORE board as the VP of National Accounts for Tito’s Handmade Vodka responsible for the on and off premise channels. He has over 20 years’ experience in the alcohol beverage industry selling beer and distilled spirits for family owned and operated companies. “Having my son with some early health issues, and being exposed to truly sick kids and their families, gave me an entirely different perspective and solidified CORE’s mission and values in my life.

Board Emeritus

Paul LaConte

Casa LaConte | FOUNDING MEMBER

Paul recently retired from a 40 year sales and marketing career at DIAGEO, where his experience included marketing/ promotion, distributor management and National Accounts. Paul founded Casa LaConte, a beverage consulting business, after leaving DIAGEO and resides with his wife Donna in Naples, FL.

Stan Novack

Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill | FOUNDING MEMBER

Recognized as one of the “Marketing 100” by “Advertising Age”, Stan was responsible for the creation, development and implementation of the “Cheers” branded theme restaurant concept based on the television
series. Stan pioneered the development of other specialty concepts including micro-breweries, sports grills, wine bars and Irish Pubs in non-traditional environments, and has led creative teams that worked with popular
names to develop proprietary branded concepts such as FOX Sports Skybox, Jose Cuervo Tequileria, Casa Bacardi, Dewar’s Clubhouse and others. Stan has also worked with celebrity chefs to develop innovative
concepts bearing their name, including Todd English’s Bonfire & Bonfire Bar, Martin Yan’s Yan Can, and David Burke’s Burke in the Box, as well as entertainment icons, such as Dick Clark and Sammy Hagar, to
develop concepts around their music and backgrounds. Stan’s industry specialties include concept development, training, marketing, purchasing, branding and identity, franchising, merchandising, design, and operations.

Staff

Lauren LaViola

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Lauren started her professional journey in the Journalism world receiving her Bachelor of Science in Communication and Information at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a minor in Business Administration. She had a short stint in the Hospitality Industry before spreading her adventurous and inquisitive wings across the Atlantic. Lauren spent a year abroad in Spain teaching English to students aged 4 to 85 and returned to the US more self-aware and with a whole new outlook on life.

Lauren landed in Chicago where she received her Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management, a Certificate in Executive Leadership and a Certificate in Meeting and Event Management. In Chicago, she volunteered with numerous organizations and it was her volunteer work with CORE that brought all of her skills, interests, and experiences full circle.

Lauren has been with CORE since November 2011 and has had the honor of serving as CORE’s Executive Director since early 2013. As Lauren says, “CORE is where my passion presented itself loud and clear and now my career happens to be one of my favorite pastimes— helping others.”

Meagan Glover

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Meagan has an educational background in Communication (B.A. Clemson University) with minors in Sociology and Journalism and a Master of Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders (M.Ed. Georgia State University). As a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist (CCC-SLP), Meagan has worked with individuals across the life-span with a variety of disorders and disease process diagnoses. Meagan has a passion for working alongside individuals who are navigating personal challenges.

Meagan has robust professional experience in sales and marketing within the consumer product arena and spent 6 years working in a corporate professional capacity before realigning her career aspirations to use her communication skills to help others. Meagan worked in early intervention, assisted living and telepractice settings as a speech-language pathologist prior to giving birth to a child with medical needs. After taking a brief hiatus from clinical practice to care for her son, Meagan began working professionally in the non-profit sector to channel her passion for helping others navigating challenging life-circumstances, like her own. Meagan’s passion and skill are a welcome addition to the CORE team.

Kristen Davis

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Kristen Davis began her career in the food and beverage service industry at just 15 years old. Positions varying from quick service to restaurant hosting, serving, bartending and managing for nearly 20 years gave her a respect and love for the industry that employs millions across the world. In 2013, Kristen and her husband, a chef, welcomed their first and only child. Parenting came with extra challenges for the couple including a preterm birth, Down syndrome, a congenital heart defect, open heart surgery and even a diagnosis of pediatric cancer for their daughter. While these challenges were extraordinary, Kristen has used these experiences to shift her career from inside the food and beverage industry to giving back to service employees through CORE first as Program Coordinator and now as CORE’s Program Director. Her unique situation has provided her with invaluable insight and a deep-rooted connection to food and beverage service employees navigating similar life-altering circumstances––translating her passion into a profession and her life experiences into a daily mission.

Jenna Cottingham

BOOKEEPER

Jenna began her career as a bookkeeper working for her grandfather’s wholesale company in 2012 while attending the University of Florida. Shortly after graduating with her bachelor's degree in Business Administration, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2016. From there, she worked with multiple small companies in the greater Nashville area re-organizing and updating their bookkeeping systems and processes.

Jenna currently works as a freelance bookkeeper for multiple companies in the Nashville area as well as a part-time bookkeeper for CORE. She stands behind CORE’s mission and everything it stands for. Helping families everyday is a passion of hers that she shares with everyone she comes in contact with. Working for CORE has changed her life.

Jenna enjoys visiting her family and friends in Florida as well as going to the beach any chance she can get. She enjoys live music, music festivals, going hiking, working out, eating healthy and much more.