Karissa Kruse, President
Kate Piontek, Vice President of Operations
Sean Carroll, Director of Marketing & Communications
Emily Farrant, Sustainability Manager
Andriana Duckworth, Relationship & Program Manager
Lara Roush-Hernandez, Education and Community Engagement Manager
Denise Moore, Executive Assistant
Robert LaVine, Sustainability Consultant
Lori Petersen, Bookeeper
Since taking over the top leadership role at the Sonoma County Winegrowers, Kruse has guided the strategy and implementation of Sonoma County’s commitment to become America’s first 100% certified sustainable wine region. Her forward thinking approach has helped Sonoma County Winegrowers gain global recognition for their efforts and she’s been invited to speak at major conferences around the world.
In an effort to continue to lead in the social responsibility component of sustainability, Kruse announced the relaunch of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation in January 2016 that aims to assist local agricultural employees and their families in the areas of healthcare, affordable housing, childcare and education. She currently serves as executive director of the Foundation.
Karissa earned a BS in Economics and an MBA in Marketing from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She has 20 years of experience in various aspects of marketing, brand management, strategic planning and business development. Karissa has worked for companies such as General Mills, Universal Studios, Mattel and Dairy Management.
She is a partner in a small winery, Argot Wines, and the owner of a 25-acre parcel on Sonoma Mountain, with five acres planted to winegrapes.
She is on the Alumni Advisory Board for Wharton’s Initiative on Global Environmental Leadership and a member of Wharton Women in Leadership. Karissa is on the German Marshall Fund Alumni Leadership Council and FIVS Environmental Sustainability Working Group. She is on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Housing Task Force for the Sonoma County Alliance. Karissa is on the Board of Directors, Board Development Committee and Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Wine Country. She is on the Board of Directors of Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, and Shone Farm Foundation. Karissa serves on the Health Action Catalyst Team and its Governance Working Group and is a member of the Santa Rosa Junior College Wine Studies Advisory Board. In 2014, Kruse was selected as a North Bay Business Journal Women in Business Award recipient and was a Forty under 40 Award recipient in 2012. Kruse was honored with the Marshall Memorial Fellowship in 2015. Karissa received the 2016 Friend of Agriculture Award from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. She was named to the 2016 Wine Business Monthly Magazine's Top 50 Wine Industry Leaders. In 2017, she was named to the Organic Authority's List of "Badass Disruptors Changing Your Food System." Karissa was honored by the North Bay Business Journal in 2017 with a Community Philanthropy Award.
Piontek has an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and more than a decade of experience working in finance and operations for both small and large organizations. Prior to the Commission, Piontek served on several Executive Teams where she was responsible for designing and leading all the financial and operational strategy as well as contributing to the overall strategic direction of the business
Sean Carroll brings more than 15 years of marketing and public relations experience to the Sonoma County Winegrowers. Carroll joined the organization in 2013, managing all aspects of the winegrower’s marketing and communications efforts, including community and media relations, advertising, social/digital media, grower grant programs, market and industry research, and other functions supporting the larger “We Are Sonoma County” campaign in partnership with Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism.
Previously, Carroll worked at Benson Marketing Group creating and managing large, national promotional campaigns for domestic and international wineries, wine growing regions, and spirits brands. Carroll was named to the Northbay Business Journal's 2014 'Forty Under 40' that recognizes emerging leaders in the region. He participated in Leadership Santa Rosa Class 31 and sat on the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee's Marketing and Communications Sub-Commitee. Carroll holds a BA in Communications and Public Relations from Carroll College.
Farrant has an extensive background of working in diverse situations across many international borders. After working and traveling abroad for several years, she was eager to reconnect with her local roots and make a positive impact to our agriculture and grape growing community. Over the past five years, she has worked in 14 countries across four continents, including Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe. She most recently worked at Greeneye Partners, one of the world’s most influential environment, health and safety consulting firms in the electronics recycling industry. She conducted audits in hazardous waste, radio-active waste, scrap metal, electronics recycling, glass recycling and materials recovery facilities across several continents. Farrant’s strong tenacity, work ethic, and passion for sustainability helped pave her way to successfully navigate different cultures, corporate structures, employee dynamics, and other aspects of a client’s business to confirm and educate them on implementation of their product certifications for recycling. Prior to that, Farrant worked globally on behalf of both the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation in Ghana working on sustainability and environmental health issues.
Farrant holds a Bachelor of Science in Agroecology and Environmental Sustainability from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She also volunteers in the local community, including coaching the El Molino High School girls’ varsity soccer team.
Andriana Duckworth, Relationship & Program Manager
After receiving her BA in Politics and Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, she began work for California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in his public relations office. A change of heart prompted her to leave the San Francisco area and move back home to the beautiful hills of Bennett Valley to work as a Marketing and Sales Associate for her family’s locally owned and operated award winning BBQ Sauce Company called TWG Barbeque Co.
In July of 2014, her dreams of working in the wine industry came to fruition when she joined the Sonoma County Winegrowers team as the Marketing Coordinator. After one year with the Winegrowers she became the Relationship & Program Manager. In this role Andriana manages the Commission's major grower programs and events such as Dollars & $ense and Pruning Championship, as well as the Commission Sponsorship program and more. She hopes to pursue an MBA in the Wine Business Management Program from Sonoma State University in the future.
Robert LaVine is a well-respected viticulturist with more than 30 years of winegrowing experience throughout California with an emphasis on implementation, education, and promotion of sustainability. Most recently, LaVine worked at Fetzer Winery as Director of Sourcing where he was responsible for sourcing grapes, juice, and bulk wine for production of luxury, premium, and popular priced brands from throughout California and throughout the world. This included leading the company’s efforts to promote sustainability with its vineyard sources throughout the state, including organic producers. Prior to that, LaVine worked for two decades at Robert Mondavi as Director of Winegrower Relations in the Central Coast region. During this time, he was a founding member of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, a groundbreaking group of winegrowers that took a leadership role in the early adoption of sustainable vineyard practices. He was also on the development committee for Sustainable in Practice (SIP) program. LaVine has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Davis.
Denise Moore is the Executive Assistant to President, Karissa Kruse. In addition to providing support to Karissa and the team, Denise manages the Grape Marketplace and assists with Board and Grower Program events and meetings. Denise brings over 20 years of experience supporting executives in a variety of industries, including biotech, public accounting, service and manufacturing. Denise holds a BBA from Fontbonne College.