Leader of alcohol industry group to step down

Leader of alcohol industry group to step down

Kraig Naasz, the leader of the alcohol industry’s lobbying group, is stepping down at the end of June.

Naasz began as president and chief executive of the Distilled Spirits Council a little more than two years ago, replacing the group’s longtime CEO, Peter Cressy, after he retired. He will now work full-time for Washington2 Advocates, a lobbying firm with offices in both Washington, D.C., and Washington state. He has advised and served as a minority partner at the for more than a decade.

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“Leading the Distilled Spirits Council during this time of transition for the association and the distilled spirits sector has been one of the most gratifying professional experiences of my career,” he said.

Naasz, who previously spent six years as CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute, has also helmed the National Mining Association, The Fertilizer Institute and the U.S. Apple Association since 1998.

The alcohol industry scored a long-awaited victory in the Republican tax law, which slashed its federal taxes dramatically. In addition to the overall reduction of the corporate tax rate, the law has also cut excise taxes for brewers, winemakers and distillers.

The Distilled Spirits Council has also celebrated gains in beating back tax hikes on the state and local level and making the retail sale of alcohol available seven days a week in five states.

“Our sector’s growth has been facilitated, in part, by the tax victories, market access gains, export promotion, regulatory reforms and overall advancement of our public policy agenda supported by Kraig and the Council’s talented team,” said Jim Clerkin, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America, the chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council board.

“Kraig leaves the organization in a very strong position, and he will move on with our deepest thanks and very best wishes for future success."

The board of directors has already launched an executive search for Naasz’s replacement.

“I’m privileged to have led such a dedicated and talented team of professionals at the Council, and extremely proud of our many accomplishments and modernization efforts,” said Naasz. “I now look forward to rejoining my partners at W2A as the firm’s strategic advisor and seeking out new challenges both here in the nation’s capital and back home in the Pacific Northwest.”