Our Team

 

 
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Katie Calhoun

President


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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.

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Michelle Keene

Account 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.

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Kela Driggs

Account Director


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As Account Director, Kela provides strategic brand messaging, digital media experience, and relationship development. Kela has worked in the wine industry for over seven 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.

 
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Megan Belden

Account Coordinator


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Megan combines her background in social media marketing and strategy to provide social media, administrative and creative support to C&C’s Account Directors across the portfolio.

Megan is a graduate of Scripps College with a BA in Politics. She previously worked with The Forte Mare PR agency in Orange County, providing strategic insight as well as content creation, curating and managing client social media accounts. At the nonprofit Max Love Project in Santa Ana, Megan aided in the re-branding and website redesign of the organization’s funding arm, Max Love Market.

Megan grew up visiting wineries on road trips to her family’s home in Carmel, California. Her parents, enthusiastic wine club members, kick-started her appreciation for red wine and generously shared their surplus during Megan’s college years. Megan recently moved to San Francisco from Southern California and plans on spending her free time learning photography and exploring the City’s best wine bars.

Judith Alex

Business & 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.

 
 
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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

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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

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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

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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