StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays n n May/June 2016 20 "One of the things I've taken a look at has been our past themes, and fi guring out how I can continue to build on the incredible work that's already been done," she explains. "The fi rst thing that came to mind is change. It's what Vermont itself is famous for: the changing of the seasons." Many of the new developments that have occurred in Ver- mont over the past several years are relevant to NABCA and may be adapted there. "There has to be some succession planning. What happens to NABCA in the future in terms of retirements and turnover?" O'Brien asks. "We also need to provide more technical assis- tance to states as they need it, especially as they take on these bigger initiatives like overall system updates." O'Brien realizes that not everyone is open to change. "Usually when people are resistant to change, it's because they don't understand it or trust the process," she says. "But we all need to wrap our arms around a changing landscape. At NABCA in particular, we have some unique opportunities specifi c to the industry that the association has embraced. We continue to remain relevant and invested in the citizens of our various states." According to outgoing NABCA chair Stephen Larson, who is also the Administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Divi- sion, O'Brien's experience and vision perfectly align with where NABCA is currently headed. "We're going to see increased pressure to change our laws and validate what we're doing," Larson says. "I foresee a con- Liquor Control Board members Melissa Mazza-Paquette, Julian Sbardella and Thomas Lauzon (back row) with Stephanie O'Brien and Commissioner Patrick Delaney (front row). tinuation of pressure to validate and question whether our laws are still relevant, and to determine whether they need to change or be modernized. There will be a lot of increased pressure on us. Stephanie has tremendous passion for what she does and is also very transparent. She's had some great opportunities to guide her agency in Vermont towards sub- stantial change. That gives her the background she needs to come in here and lead. Also, we need to always make sure that the safety and well-being of our community is the top focus, not new products or consumer demand. Stephanie has the background and experience needed to keep the main is- sues at the forefront." During his tenure as chairman, Larson oversaw two large and successful events: a craft distillery symposium and a symposium on chain accounts. Larson credits O'Brien with formulating the idea for the craft symposium, which he says illustrates her capacity as a visionary leader who will help guide the NABCA through the challenges it will face during the next year. O'Brien offi cially begins her tenure as NABCA chair at the annual conference in May, held in Orlando. As she ap- proaches her upcoming year as chair, O'Brien says she plans to build upon Larson's work, which focused on establish- ing and expanding relationships with various organizations and tie that work into the concept of change. She's also ex- tremely grateful to those people who have supported her along the way. "This is not my day-to-day job," O'Brien says. "I appreci- ate all of my professional colleagues who have helped and supported me, and given me the opportunity to do this. I'm grateful for this opportunity and my colleagues have been very generous with their support and help. It's important to go ahead and make a difference. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everyone in the industry and I'm really looking forward to the year ahead." Melissa Niksic is a freelance writer and marketing commu- nications strategist from Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in Chicago's Daily Herald newspaper, Time Out Chicago, Suburban Life newspapers, and various magazines. She is also the author of several children's books. Follow her @MelissaNiksic. USHERING IN change O'Brien's theme for the upcoming year is "Take Advantage of Change."

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