PRESS RELEASE PORTLAND, Maine (May 21, 2024)—The University of New England (UNE) has announced it is partnering with craft beverage experts along with beer and distillery guilds to provide industry-specific training for staff across the U.S.

Recognizing the dynamic shifts in the brewing and distilling sectors, the collaboration, “Crafting Futures,” seeks to address the evolving needs of the craft beverage industry and support the continued growth of these sectors.

“Crafting Futures” introduces a tailored curriculum designed to equip industry professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the evolving craft beverage landscape.

Recognizing the diverse needs of industry professionals, the program will offer flexible learning models, including online courses, workshops, and immersive experiences. This accessibility ensures that individuals across the industry spectrum can benefit from the program.

Beth Taylor-Nolan, Ed.D., dean of UNE Online, said, “We are excited about this new alliance and the opportunity to support the craft beverage industry. UNE is well positioned to deliver quality education in collaboration with our industry partners, bringing practical, affordable, and accessible training to brewery and distillery owners, managers, and staff on topics that will help them address current challenges and prepare for future needs.”

“Over the last five years, the craft beverage sector has experienced dramatic changes,” said UNE Online Program Developer, Gregory Dunkling, M.A. “The University of New England, working closely with an advisory board, will address critical issues that senior staff in breweries and distilleries face today. Themes will include understanding brewery/distillery finance, how to best grow sales in a crowded market, and, alternatively, explore possible future merger and exit strategies.”

Dunkling added, “Our program will help senior staff determine the best path forward with the guidance of some of the most respected minds in the industry serving as mentors, along with valuable peer-to-peer insights. Meanwhile, the craft distilling sector is growing and technical training will be offered to assure high quality products.”

The current advisory board for the “Crafting Futures” Collaboration includes Heather Pilkington, Managing Director and CEO, First Key Consulting, the world’s leading brewing and beverage industry consulting firm; Matt McLaughlin, Esq., of Jackson, Mississippi, whose firm focuses on beverage law; Michelle Forster, former executive director of the Wyoming Brewers’ Guild; Julie Rhodes, president of Not Your Hobby Marketing of Colorado; Laura Lodge, owner/strategic advisor of Customized Craft Beer Program; Kary Shumway, chief financial officer of Wormtown Brewery, a certified public accountant, and founder of Craft Brewery Financial Training and the Beer Business Finance Association; and John Reynolds, president of BrewPlan, Inc. of Wisconsin.

“‘​​Crafting Futures’ is launching at a critical time in the evolution of both distilling and brewing, when change is happening so rapidly that we need to work together to navigate effectively,” Lodge said. “This kind of resource, with a team who is actively listening to see what’s needed, is vital to ensure smart planning and growth within both, albeit connected, industries.”

McLaughlin added, “I am honored to be a part of such a distinguished group of beverage professionals committed to sharing knowledge and experience with the broader craft community. As a trusted advisor to hundreds of breweries throughout the United States and a brewery founder and owner, I look forward to helping the University of New England and its team curate content for this program.”

The “Crafting Futures” collaboration marks a turning point for the brewing and distilling industries, setting a new standard for education and innovation. The program is set to launch in May, with applications opening soon. For more information, visit Crafting Futures website.  


The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, with two beautiful coastal campuses in Maine, a one-of-a-kind study-abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of flexible online offerings. In an uncommonly welcoming and supportive community, we offer hands-on learning, empowering students to make a positive impact in a world full of challenges. We are the state’s top provider of health professionals and home to Maine’s only medical and dental colleges, a variety of other interprofessionally aligned health care programs, and nationally recognized programs in the marine sciences, the natural and social sciences, business, the humanities, and the arts. Visit