OUR TEAM

  • Katie Calhoun
      Katie CalhounPresident

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      Katie (pronounced “Kah-tee”) has devoted her entire career to the wine and spirits industry, and today brings over 25 years of public relations expertise to Calhoun & Company Communications. Prior to founding her own agency in 2003, Katie worked with public relations veteran Edwin J. Schwartz for 15 years, managing wine, spirits and restaurant clients for his agency.

      Through her work with a wide variety of wine and spirits companies, Katie has developed a broad perspective on the industry and built strong relationships in the press. She travels frequently to meet with the media throughout the country and track emerging trends so that she and her staff can generate individualized and meaningful story ideas.

      An early year spent in Paris and in Burgundy introduced Katie to the world of fine wine with its ancient traditions and rich history. Upon her return to the United States, she published her college thesis on Women & Champagne in 19th Century France.

      Katie’s palate and tasting skills have earned her a place among top wine and spirits professionals as a national competition judge. She has judged at the Sunset International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Monterey County Wine Competition, and San Francisco World Spirits Competition; she is also a frequent taster at Wine & Spirits magazine.

      Katie’s wine industry affiliations include membership with Women for WineSense, Wine 2.0, Family Winemakers of California, Society of Wine Educators and Women of the Vine.

      Katie lives in San Francisco with her husband and has two teenage children. She is fond of travel in pursuit of a great cocktail, loves to host dinner parties and rejoices in electronic-free backpacking trips. She was a volunteer for 15 years in San Francisco schools, served six years on The Thacher School Alumni Council and is currently on the Board of Directors for Edgewood Center for Children & Families.

    • Michelle Keene
      Michelle KeeneAccount Director

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      Michelle has contributed her unique perspective to Calhoun & Company since 2012, bringing with her years of direct wine sales experience, extensive travels to Italy’s major wine regions, and a passion for wine education.

      While representing a start-up importer’s wines with a premium distributor, Michelle spear-headed sales efforts and worked with some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants to develop and expand their wine programs. She also represented several Northern California wineries, successfully placing their wines in key accounts.

      Fueled by her passion for wine education, Michelle enjoys conducting wine tasting seminars, where she shares her extensive knowledge of Italy’s diverse grape varietals and growing regions. She believes in ‘bringing terroir to the table,’ and focuses on wines of place and character to help tasters understand what can make a wine special. She has extensive experience in orchestrating large-scale industry events and tastings.

      Her credentials include an Advanced Certificate with Distinction from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, professional wine studies at the Culinary Institute of America, and membership in the North American Sommeliers Association, including the Italian Wine Specialist credential. Michelle enjoyed a previous career in international development with the World Bank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. She received a B.A. from Bowdoin College and a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

    • Kela Driggs
      Kela DriggsAccount Director

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      Kela is the newest addition to Calhoun & Company. As Account Director she provides strategic brand messaging, digital media experience, and relationship development. Kela has worked in the wine industry for over six years including harvest, sales, marketing and communications.

      Kela fell in love with the wine world at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo through the campus wine club, Vines to Wines, of which she later became the club’s president. After graduating, she worked the 2011 wine harvest in Livermore Valley, she sold wine to on-premise accounts and was the Event and Marketing Coordinator for the Livermore Winegrowers Association (LVWA). There she created marketing strategies for the historical wine region of over 50 wineries, helping to increase awareness and quality recognition nationwide. She oversaw the consumer events for LVWA, some with over 8,000 attendees. She led the organization, communication, and promotion planning to increase attendance and revenue for the events.

      To expand her international wine and market knowledge, Kela left to pursue her MBA in Wine Marketing Management in Bordeaux, France, despite only knowing a few words in French. In France, she developed a greater understanding of branding, marketing, and international markets. After completing her graduation and thesis on How Wine Brand Acquisitions Can Affect The Brand Strategy, Kela began working for TASTED 100% Blind, a digital wine marketing company based in Bordeaux. It was there that she managed the company’s English communication and marketing strategies, as well as managed the 2007 Best Sommelier in the World Andreas Larsson.

      Beyond wine, Kela loves learning to cook, attempting yoga, green juices, French cheese, traveling, and listening to podcasts.

    • Ana Clare Smith
      Ana Clare SmithAccount Executive

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      Account Coordinator Ana Clare Smith joined Calhoun & Company in 2015.  She combines her keen eye for detail and strong writing skills to provide social media, administrative and creative support to Calhoun & Company’s Account Directors across the portfolio.

      Ana Clare is a graduate of Wesleyan University with a BA in Sociology. She previously worked as Program Manager for Project Glimmer in San Francisco, securing relationships with corporate donors and writing copy for the company’s outward-facing communications, including press releases and social media.  At Camp Creative Marketing in Berkeley, Ana Clare wrote daily copy for the agency’s social media presence including Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

      Ana Clare fell in love with food and wine during a semester abroad where she studied in Bologna, Italy. She is conversational in both Italian and Spanish and enjoys exploring other cultures through food. Ana Clare currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for LeMons Aid.

    • Lauren Spates
      Lauren SpatesAccount Coordinator

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      Lauren joined Calhoun & Company with an extensive background in journalism and research. At Calhoun, she actively supports Account Directors in executing campaigns and in carrying out media initiatives for our portfolio of clients.

      After earning her journalism degree from the University of Maryland, Lauren took a ten-year detour into the world of enterprise sales and account management for the world’s largest developer of mailing & shipping solutions. Her book of business included public and private sector clients, both of whom called on her to evaluate and improve upon their existing workflows.

      Three years ago, Lauren’s evolving role with the company moved her – and her husband and their dog – from the east coast to San Francisco, where she found there was more to life than the daily grind. Now back to a life leveraging her degree, Lauren has found peace in the city, while enjoying weekend jaunts to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, and – of course – wine country.

    • Judith Alex
        Judith AlexBusiness & Office Manager

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        Judith came to Calhoun & Company in 2010, after practicing law for 20 years – most recently as the managing partner of the Sequoia Law Group LLP of San Francisco. She decided it was time for a career change, and working at Calhoun proved to be the perfect antidote.

        In addition to accounting, invoicing, vendor relations, office management and handling government compliance issues, Judith is able to put her previous experience to work at Calhoun by analyzing contracts and offering legal advice as needed.

        Judith earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California and her law degree from Pepperdine. She is married with two daughters, and lives in San Francisco, very happy to be close to Golden Gate Park. Judith enjoys travelling, backpacking, yoga, piano, cooking and gardening.

      WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT

       OUR EXPERTISE

      We know the wine industry like few others

      Our 25+ years and hundreds of campaigns – spanning marquis labels, varied verticals and an evolving rotation of channels – have spawned strong, lasting relationships that play out every day

      OUR LOCATION

      We embrace the San Francisco vibe

      Our SF HQ is one of our greatest assets. We operate every day in a youthful, innovative and artistic ecosystem that is environmentally conscious and socially accepting – and an hour’s drive from the heart of the U.S. wine industry

       OUR EAGLE EYE

      We are trend spotters, not followers

      Our approach is to spot openings in the market where our clients can become trendsetters. We keep our ears to the ground among influencer communities, respected industry personalities and our own well-developed network

      OUR STYLE

      We’re ‘all hands on deck’ with our clients

      Our services are personalized, but our creativity is collaborative. While we assign each account its own lead, every C&C employee lends her strengths to our clients’ programs