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2018 San Diego Craft Beer Economic Summit

Oct 10, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA
Event Summary

Join the San Diego Brewers Guild and CSUSM College of Business Administration as we host the 2018 San Diego Craft Beer Economic Summit.

The Summit will explore the economic impact and importance of the Craft Beer industry in San Diego County, how the region can support and grow this industry and will explore the ancillary services that serve craft breweries.  The event will include a CSUSM Economic Impact Report; four (4) education sessions; exhibit booths; and more!

The education sessions will explore:

  • Philanthropy & Community Engagement - Walking the Talk
  • Craft Beer Advocacy at the Capitol
  • Marketing San Diego as a Craft Beer Region
  • Status of California Cannabis Regulation
Event Details


3:00-3:30 PM Networking/Check-in
3:30-4:00 PM Welcome & Craft Beer Economic Impact Report
4:15-5:30 PM Education Sessions
5:30-6:30 PM Toast, Networking, and Tasting


Speakers Include: 



Lori Ajax

Chief of Cannabis Regulation, State of California

In February 2016, Governor Brown appointed Chief Ajax as the first Chief of the newly formed Bureau of Cannabis Control. Prior to her appointment, Chief Ajax served as Chief Deputy Director at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control where she spent 22 years working her way up the ranks, starting at the investigator trainee level. Ajax spent ten years in private industry prior to her state government career. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Sacramento. 

Tom McCormick

Executive Director, California Craft Brewers Association

Tom McCormick started the craft beer-only distributorship McCormick Beverage Company in 1984, serving the Sacramento and Lake Tahoe markets. McCormick Beverage Co. helped to pioneer the craft beer industry in the early years. After selling his distributorship in 1994, he created a craft beer educational seminar for major-brand distributors, which he conducted on-site at wholesalers across the country. He also taught classes at the American Brewers Guild, UC Davis Extension and consulted for numerous craft breweries, importers, and wholesalers.  He became executive director of the CCBA in January 2006. 


Nickie Peña

Senior Public Relations Strategist, Paradeigm

A craft beer aficionado, Nickie Peña enjoys telling stories and making meaningful connections with people. She is an award-winning public relations professional, with more than 7 years of experience working in the beer and fermentation industries. Through her work, Nickie has worked with social media influencers, bloggers, industry publications and secured positive coverage in various national outlets, including USA Today, Bon Appetit, Fortune, US News & World Report, Forbes, Travel & Leisure and more. 

Matt Zirpolo

Co-Owner/President, Burgeon Beer Company

Matt Zirpolo has always been interested in branding, sales, and marketing. He graduated from UCSB with a degree in Communication and Marketing and focused his studies on how different products, ideas, and companies entice customers and build a brand.  While at UCSB he helped implement the Intercollegiate Athletics Marketing Department at UCSB which sought to generate and increase student interest in UCSB sports. After graduation, Matt focused his newly learned knowledge on a sales job selling Canon copiers. Though not easy, he learned a lot from this experience.  He sold more copiers in his first year than any sales rep in the 15-year history of the company and continued to be the top rep during his 5 years working for the company. All of these experiences helped him and his partners achieve their dream of starting a successful craft brewery. They worked on Burgeon Beer for three years before they opened and Matt created a strong branding strategy that could “grow” for many years to come.  Matt applied skills learned from his past experiences to create not just a brand, but a meaning associated with it.


Mark Weslar

VP of Marketing, Karl Strauss Brewing Co.

Mark Weslar is the VP of Marketing for Karl Strauss Brewing Company.  In this role, Mark leads all marketing related efforts across their beer and brewpub business.  Mark has over 16 years of experience building beer brands, including brand marketing assignments with Guinness Brewing, Coors Brewing Company, and MillerCoors.   

Leslie Hackett

Editor-in-Chief & Digital Director, PACIFIC Magazine 

Leslie Hackett is the Editor in Chief of lifestyle magazine PACIFIC and has been working for its parent company The San Diego Union-Tribune for 13 years. Along with consistent coverage of craft beer online and in the magazine, last year, she launched the monthly podcast Kiss My Glass, which has featured several brewers and even a former Brewers Guild president. Even before it became her job to know all about where to go and what to do around San Diego, Leslie has always sought out new places and there is no lack of those among the county’s 160+ breweries. And, as if she needed another reason to try more new brews, she recently got engaged to a local key accounts manager for a craft beer and cider distribution company who makes sure the home fridge is never void of the tasty liquids. True love.

Mitch Silverstein

Chapter Coordinator, Surfrider Foundation San Diego

Mitch is a native Californian with a love for all things ocean, wave & beach-related.  As an activist, he strives to raise awareness of how our everyday choices affect the ocean, and advocates for sensible environmental policy at a local level.  His ultimate goal is to see environmental stewardship become mainstream, even “cool.” Mitch previously led the Rise Above Plastics committee, where he helped achieve several policy victories and expanded the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. He also served as Vice Chair of the Executive Committee before being hired on as staff. When not fighting the good fight, Mitch is usually dancing around on roller skates, catching waves, or generally acting like a giant manchild.  But don’t let the goofy exterior fool you; the dude is dead serious when it comes to protecting the ocean for future generations to enjoy!

Melody Daversa Crisp

Director of Marketing, Coronado Brewing Co.

Melody Crisp has more than a decade of experience marketing craft beer and building brands. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from San Diego State University and a master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. She currently oversees the marketing teams for Coronado Brewing Company and SouthNorte Beer Co. She is a Certified Cicerone, Nationally Ranked BJCP judge and Great American Beer Festival/World Beer Cup judge. In her free time, she enjoys baking, practicing her ukulele, and traveling with her husband. Cheers.

Chris Cochran

Marketing & Development Director, Escondido Chamber of Commerce

A graduate of UCSD with a focus on Marketing, Mass Media, and Advertising, Chris has been a dynamic force in the San Diego area for over 30 years. Having worked in the craft beer industry for 16 years, he helped build and steward one of the largest craft brands in the United States. He also passionately defined one of the cornerstones of the craft beer industry --- community engagement and tangible philanthropic support. He truly believes that in order for a business to be successful they must be a part of their community by giving back wherever and whenever they can. Chris is also deeply woven into the fabric of North County where he sits on the Board of Trustees at the California Center for the Arts – Escondido, the Board of Directors at the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, and on the Board for the Brewchive project here at Cal State San Marcos. When not playing golf, mountain biking, snowboarding, or tending to his dozens of bonsai trees, he spends his time with the most incredible, humor-inducing, fascinating, talented, and wonderous cat on the planet…Mr. Tanner Finnegan Cochran!

Brandon Hernández 

Chief Marketing Officer, Societe Brewing Co.

Brandon is a veteran of the San Diego brewing industry, having worked in a marketing leadership position for Societe Brewing, AleSmith Brewing, and Stone Brewing. In addition to his work for breweries, he has reported on the San Diego brewing industry as a journalist for 11 years. He is currently the editor at large for West Coaster Magazine, a columnist for Celebrator Beer News and Ranch & Coast Magazine, and has contributed articles on San Diego as a destination for world-class beer to All About Beer Magazine, Beer Magazine, The Beer Connoisseur Magazine, Beer Paper L.A., The Full Pint, Edible San Diego, Imbibe Magazine, Modern Luxury, PACIFIC San Diego, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Reader, San Diego Union-Tribune, Where San Diego, Wine Enthusiast Magazine and more. He has provided on-air content for CW6, FOX 5 San Diego, KPBS, NPR, Zagat and Food Network. He is the author of two editions of the San Diego Beer News: Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries, a member of the California Craft Brewers Association's Membership Committee and San Diego Press Club, and is the founder of the Beer to the Rescue charity campaign benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California.

Elvin Lai 

President & CEO, Ocean Park Inn

Elvin Lai is owner-operator of the Ocean Park Inn hotel and Cofounder of Abnormal Beer Company. As a native San Diegan, he has been devoted to bettering the community and positively impacting tourism for the greater area of San Diego. He has worked diligently in making San Diego synonymous with “Capital of Craft”. Elvin serves heavily in the tourism sector as Director on the Board of the San Diego Convention Center, President of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association, and previously on the board of the San Diego Tourism Authority and the San Diego Tourism Marketing District. Elvin actively blends the craft beer world with the tourism world together looking for symbiotic relations where both are able to thrive.





























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When and Where
California State University San Marcos
333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92096

Oct 10, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM PST
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