Executive Director, Honor the Earth
Principal Founder, Breakthru Beverage Group
Charlie Merinoff is a principal founder of Breakthru Beverage Group (BBG), the innovative beverage wholesaler formed by Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG) and Wirtz Beverage Group on January 1, 2016. He currently serves as Co-Chairman of BBG’s Board of Managers. The operations of the company and its affiliates spans 16 markets throughout North America, and the company represents a portfolio of premier wine, spirits and beer brands totaling more than $6 billion in annual sales.
Previously Charlie was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSG, one of the nation’s leading distributors of fine wines and spirits. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1980, Charlie joined the family’s business, holding various positions in operations, purchasing and sales. In 1991, Charlie was named President of Charmer Industries, the family’s Metro New York business. In 1994, the family acquired Sunbelt Beverage Corporation, then operating distributorships in several Eastern states. The Sunbelt Beverage Corporation continued to expand through acquisitions and partnerships, and in 1997 the wholesale companies in which the family had an interest became known as The Charmer Sunbelt Group. In 2011, he was named Chairman of the Board of The Charmer Sunbelt Group.
Charlie devotes a significant amount of time and resources to charitable organizations. He has been a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation since 1999, and is currently its Treasurer and an active member of its Board of Directors. Additionally, Charlie spent twelve years on the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America and is currently Trustee Emeritus. He presides on the Board of Directors of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Charles has previously been on the Board of Trustees of Northwell Health - formerly North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and Make-A Wish Foundation Metro New York. Charlie spearheaded the annual “Wine and Wishes” tasting and auction, which raised nearly $8.0 million over 13 years for Make-A-Wish.
Charlie has been honored over the years by the Boys Town of Italy, the Boy Scouts of America, the UJA-Federation of New York, the American Cancer Society and received the George Washington Spirit Award at Mt. Vernon. He is a Past Chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
Dr. Jessica Shade
Director of Science Programs, The Organic Center
Dr. Jessica Shade is the Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center where she directs projects associated with communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture. During her tenure at The Organic Center Dr. Shade has collaborated on a number of diverse research programs ranging from applied solutions to on-farm challenges to methods for improving environmental impacts of agriculture. Some of her most recent collaborations include projects aimed at decreasing nitrogen pollution from agricultural sources, increasing on-farm biodiversity, and developing integrated pest management solutions for organic growers. Dr. Shade has extensive experience leading groups of diverse stakeholders to successfully develop unified visions and project goals. She developed and leads the Center’s signature conference event, Organic Confluences, which brings together policy makers, researchers, farmers, industry members, and other non-profits to address and overcome challenges faced by the organic sector. Dr. Shade has been honored for her environmental accomplishments by the Audubon Women in Conservation through their Women Greening Food Special Recognition, the Ecological Society of America Student Section and Union of Concerned Scientists through their Ecoservice Award, and is a Switzer Environmental Fellow. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Founder & Executive Director, Strolling of the Heifers
Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Co-Founder and Managing Director, FreshTracks Capital
Slow Living Summit Coordinator
Strolling of the Heifers prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation,
religion, age, disability, marital or family status. Strolling of the Heifers is an equal opportunity employer.