The New York Wine and Grape Foundation Board of Directors met for their quarterly board meeting on May 24. The focus of the Board’s annual spring meeting is board elections and renewal. The Board votes on its officers, appoints committee chairs, renews terms for existing members, and fills any board vacancies with new members. This annual process has enabled the leadership of the board to be fresh and dynamic, and it has driven the organization’s growth and maturation over the past couple of years.
The board elections this May marked a critical transition in the Board Chair position. Charlie Marshall completed his third consecutive one-year term as Board Chair, which according to our bylaws made him ineligible to serve another consecutive year as Board Chair. In June 2020, Charlie succeeded Kim Wagner of Stoutridge Vineyards, and he was immediately thrust into the difficult position of navigating the organization through the financial disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Then in mid-2021, he dealt with my absence as I recovered from open-heart surgery. He stepped in to work with the NYWGF team more directly to keep the organization moving forward.
We all owe Charlie a debt of gratitude for his outstanding service as Board Chair. And more importantly, despite the challenges he faced during his tenure, he left the organization in a much stronger place. I am personally grateful for the support that Charlie provided me during his tenure as he helped make me become a better leader. I think that the best way to convey our gratitude to Charlie is to visit his restaurant, The Marshal, in Hell’s Kitchen NYC, and do yourself a favor and order my favorite, his super delicious baby back ribs; among other excellent dishes.
At the May meeting, Charlie passed the baton of Board Chair leadership to Wendy Oakes Wilson. Her family owns Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, which is located on her family’s 4th generation farm, LynOaken Farms Inc, where she currently serves as President and General Manager. Wendy and Leonard Oakes have been long-time members of NYWGF. She was an active volunteer in our export program especially when it involved opportunities for her to use her Portuguese. Wendy joined the Board of Directors in 2021 and she has served for the past year as Chair of the Governance Committee. I’m excited to work with Wendy over the next year, hopefully longer, as we build upon Charlie’s legacy to make NYWGF a more effective organization serving New York’s grape and wine industry.
As we look to continue to professionalize the organization, the Board recognized that it would benefit from the perspective and voice of an attorney, especially an attorney with prior non-profit board experience and knowledge of non-profit governance best practices. We issued an open call for board applications in April, and we received 17 submissions by early May. It was encouraging to see such an enthusiastic response and receive so many quality applications. This made the board’s selection process difficult, however, two candidates emerged as excellent fits for the board’s selection criteria.
The NYWGF Board is pleased to welcome former State Senator Mike Nozzolio and Jeniffer Taylor of Bully Hill Vineyards as its newest members.
Senator Nozzolio is no stranger to NYWGF, as he was a signatory to the state legislation that created NYWGF in 1985 while he served as a member of the State Assembly. He is recognized and rated as one of America’s most honored and distinguished attorneys. He serves as a director on public and private food production companies and as an advisor to corporate CEO’s. An elected member of the NY State Senate for 24 years and State Assembly for a decade, he served in a variety of leadership positions including Majority Whip of the Senate and Deputy Minority Leader of the Assembly. As partner, co-leader of the food and beverage group, and now of counsel to Harris Beach PLLC he is experienced in corporate governance, audit, finance, and investment matters. He worked as Senior Counsel for U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. for 4 years. Senator Nozzolio was instrumental in establishing the Cornell Tech Farm, and assisted in the further development of Cornell AgriTech. Senator Nozzolio earned a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a Juris Doctor from the Syracuse University College of Law.
Jeniffer Taylor currently serves as Counsel for Bully Hill Vineyards. She has worked for Bully Hill Vineyards for the past ten years wearing many hats from cooking in the kitchen, sharing meals with farmers and producers, and representing the winery at various consumer and industry tastings. She recently left private practice to rejoin the winery full-time where she continues to wear many hats, including but not limited to ensuring compliance with various federal and state employment and industry-specific requirements. As an attorney in private practice, Jeniffer provided legal advice to non-profit organizations, and she is knowledgeable of New York’s non-profit law and the non-profit revitalization act. Jeniffer earned a B.A. in International Studies from American University, and a Juris Doctor from the Syracuse University College of Law where she graduated second in her class.
Also joining the board is Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield, Associate Professor of Enology at the Cornell Craft Beverage Institute and Associate Director of Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. Anna Katharine succeeded former Cornell AgriTech Director, Jan Nyrop, as a NYWGF Board member in January after Jan’s retirement, serving the final six months of Jan’s board term. The NYWGF Board then voted to have Anna Katharine serve her own three-year term. Anna Katharine has been a member of the Cornell Enology Extension Lab since 2009, where she strives to aid regional wineries through outreach and applied research on regional terroir and typicity, sensory perception, and fermentation management. She received a BA in English from Salem College and graduate degrees in Food Science at Virginia Tech and the University of Minnesota. Anna Katharine served as Enology Project Leader at the University of Minnesota from 2001-2008, where she developed a new enology extension program to serve the rapidly developing cold-climate wine industry in the Upper Midwest. She spent a sabbatical leave at l’Institut Universitaire de la Vigne et du Vin Jules Guyot at the University of Burgundy investigating the potential of cork structures to sorb wine flavor compounds.
Please join me in welcoming Wendy Oakes Wilson as NYWGF Board Chair, and Senator Nozzolio, Jeniffer Taylor, and Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield to the NYWGF Board of Directors.