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  • Panelists and Guest Speaker Bios

Panelists and Guest Speaker Bios

Chelsea Washburn, Head of The American Spirits Exchange Grow Department

Chelsea is the head of the American Spirits Exchange (ASE) Grow Department. She speaks with producers and brand owners who wish to be present in the US market and determine how ASE can best help. Prior to this, Chelsea worked with distillery projects in the US, and managed beverage programs in restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area. She is passionate about speaking with producers and learning about their brands, aligning well with ASE’s goal of providing producers with knowledge and a platform to execute their growth goals in the US market.

About The American Spirits Exchange

The American Spirits Exchange (ASE) is a national importer and distributor serving the alcoholic beverage industry (spirits, wine and beer), providing domestic and international companies with access and support to the U.S. market. The ASE helps brands grow by executing importing and compliance infrastructures for client’s products. Additionally, ASE offers logistical solutions like supply chain management with warehousing and shipping as well as capital solutions like PO processing and factoring for your US markets. American Spirits Exchange is United States’ expert representational importer with leading cost-efficient solutions for your brand to enter and grow in the US market.



Suzanne Schalow, Co-Founder, Craft Beer Cellar

Often times called “the people whisperer”, Suzanne spent her life in some of the back alleys and secret gardens of human interactions. For 16 years, she studied her way across the country at various and sundry universities, and could always be found at Some Restaurant, USA. There is not one single job in a restaurant that she hasn’t held, if only for a short period of time. Excellent beer is the center and focus of Suzanne’s universe, and she spends her days not taking herself too seriously while surrounded by hundreds of amazing beers. Born in Arkansas, Suzanne holds degrees in both Liberal Arts and Conflict Transformation and seems to have special-people-negotiation-jedi-mind-trick-trance abilities.

Kate Baker, Co-Founder, Craft Beer Cellar

On a daily basis, Kate “The Keg Shaker” Baker works tirelessly with brewers, brewery representative, distributors and importers to get the inside scoop for Craft Beer Cellar Stores across the country! She cut her teeth in the ‘back of the house’ of the restaurant world, whether it be wrangling nachos and baseball fans at Beer Works in Fenway, or working with amazing restaurateurs like Jody Adams. When not at CBC chatting about ordering beer, you can find Kate researching beer and food pairings, teaching at an event, or on the road, delivering beer; everything she does, she does for amazing beer! Kate grew up in up-up-up state New York, and has a passion for life, love, and all things consumable. She holds a degree in both Culinary and Restaurant Management from Newbury College and Le Cordon Bleu.

About Craft Beer Cellar

Its creation is a craft; hundreds of years old and still evolving. Its creators are artisans, fusing simple ingredients to create something inspiring, eye opening, revolutionary. It's more than ABV and IBUs. It's passion, community, and craft. Beer love. It's why we're here. We spend our lives in search of beers made in breweries just down the street or on the other side of the world, that are well-crafted and good examples of either their style or what we think excellent beer should be.



Trevor Baker, Vice President, United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) & Co-Founder of Noble Cider

Trevor Baker is the Vice-President of the USACM, a coastal North Carolina native and is currently living and working in Asheville, North Carolina. He is the co-founder and general manager for Noble Cider, established in 2012 as western North Carolina's first hard cider company. He's been a CiderCon regular and USACM member since 2013, and joined the board of directors in 2015. 

About The United States Association of Cider Makers and Noble Cider 

The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Our mission is to grow a diverse and successful U.S. cider industry by providing valuable information, resources and services to our members and by advocating on their behalf.

From a humble fruit comes a Noble Cider. We started with a simple mission and very little resources. After cobbling together enough funds to build an apple press and with a few connections at local orchards, we began our journey to create Asheville's first hard cider company. Hard cider was America’s original craft beverage. Founded in the new 'Craft Brew Mecca' of Asheville and North Carolina's apple country, Noble brings together a rich local history of agriculture with this region’s exciting craft beverage industry. Our goal is to craft delicious ciders using fresh fruit with no artificial flavors or ingredients. Today we offer a full range of Traditional and New American ciders and meads. 



Chris Montana, President of American Craft Spirits Association and Owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits

After graduating law school, Chris Montana joined the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron. While still in school, Chris had an idea to create a microdistillery in the heart of his hometown.  In 2013, he and his wife Shanelle, founded Du Nord Craft Spirits in south Minneapolis the first fully licensed Microdistillery in Minneapolis. Chris and Shanelle played central roles in the reshaping of Minnesota law to allow microdistilleries to grow and compete. In 2017 Chris was elected to a three-year term on the board of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), and in 2018 Chris was elected President of the ACSA. As President of the ACSA, Chris has focused on diversity, supporting legislative efforts of individual state distiller’s guilds, federal tax reform and providing greater value to members and supporters. When not distilling, Chris is usually watching the Minnesota Twins, playing hockey, or chasing his three young sons.



Gregory Connell, President, CEO and Founding Partner at Nurture Atlantic Inc.

Gregory has over 30 Years Experience in Atlantic Canada in retail food management, wholesale food management, business building, business consultation, product consultation, research & development, product development, key account development,  market planning, market execution, coaching & mentoring and facilitation. He is the Founder & CEO of, Nurture Atlantic, a firm focused on creating and cultivating consumer products in the food and beverage sectors.



For one-on-one meetings, email ThinkGlobal@nsbi.ca with your top 3 preferred panelists. Please be sure to indicate whether you will be attending in-person or via video conference.