Steve Villani is a thirty-three year veteran in the beer industry. His formative years were spent holding various sales and marketing positions with Anheuser-Busch from 1986 to 2006. There he was able to develop disciplines such as Chain Account Sales, Field Management, Geographic Marketing and Shelf Space management. This led to him holding various wholesaler senior management positions.
Shortly before acquiring Global Beer Network in 2007, Steve served as of VP and General Manager of Brown Distributing Company in West Palm Beach, Florida. Ultimately, in an effort to get closer to family and friends in the Greater Boston Area, he took a Sales Director position with Crown Imports based out of New York.
In an effort to close the gap completely he started seeking out opportunities to acquire an existing business to own and develop. He stumbled upon Global Beer Network and quickly researched the brands. The first one he sought out was Gulden Draak and after taking his first sip…the search was over!
If anyone has shared a toast with Steve, they know that his passion for our independent family-owned breweries is incomparable.
“Selling these beers goes beyond selling a liquid. The story and history behind the families that have nurtured these breweries for centuries is the driving sales point behind these brands. I take my role of helping these brewers pass the family business down to the next generation healthier than when they got it very seriously” – Steve Villani
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Cliff’s background has predominately been in banking, working for big regional banks such as Shawmut and Bank Boston. Prior to joining GBN Cliff was the sole resource manager for an independent investor with hundreds of millions of dollars in holdings. These experiences served Cliff well as he negotiated the deal which brought Global Beer Network to its current ownership team.
For the past 13 years Cliff has managed all operations and finance aspects of Global Beer Network, helping the company grow from two employees in 2007 to thirty five employees in 2019. Selling beer is hard, but working to move that beer from the other side of the world accurately and on time is even harder, and Cliff has been an integral part of GBN’s success.
Although Cliff spends many hours a week in the GBN office, he always finds time to do the things that he loves. Cliff is an avid runner and even finished a few marathons! He also enjoys time with family and friends and is passionate about all Boston sports teams.
VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES
Christy Hanson is a 20 year veteran of the beverage industry. While living in Colorado, she spent ten years split equally between Beverage Distributors (now Breakthru Beverage) and CR Goodman as a sales consultant. Starting her career with Beverage Distributors, gave her the opportunity of beer selling a full book of beer, wine and spirits. Her passion for beer, lead her to CR Goodman, where she began focusing on import beers. She was hooked!
Christy joined Global beer Network in 2011 as our third team member and moved to Houston, TX to assume the role of Regional Sales Manager in our Southwest market. Her energy and impact to our sales team was dynamic and immediate and the state of Texas remains one of our fastest growing markets to this day.
In 2014 Christy became our West Coast Sales Director and Chain Account Manager. In the last 5 years she developed a true passion for offering programming that tells the unique stories of all of our amazing breweries. By partnering with on and off-premise retailers eager to captivate their customers with an authentic import experience, these programs have made a tremendous impact in the marketplace.
As Vice President of Sales her strong belief in consistent communication and follow through makes her valuable in all phases of our supply chain.
Despite her travel frequency Christy always manages time for a quick hike or jog. She is an avid lover of all animals, particularly her two German Shepherds, Gus and Harper and her tiny dog Porter.
VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
Dan Leeman became the first member of our sales team in 2009, representing Brewery Van Steenberge in New York City. He spent the five previous years working at an off-premise retailer in the Boston Area. There he noticed that most successful suppliers took the time to understand the clientele and educate their staff.
Dan joined the online marketing firm Exclusive Concepts as a Sales Associate in 2008, where he learned the fundamentals of online marketing including blogging, SEO and web development. While enjoying a Gulden Draak with colleagues at the famed Publick House in Boston, he had a chance run in with brewmaster Jef Versele and our COO, Cliff Lusso and the rest is history.
He went on to become our Northeast Sales and Marketing Manager from 2010 to 2014 and then our Northeast Sales Director up until January of 2019. His experience working with our wholesale network from Tennessee to Maine and as far west as Ohio gives him a firm understanding of how our brands can succeed in vastly different markets.
As our Vice President of Marketing, he is passionate about our brands and makes a concerted effort to understand the subtle details of our breweries and their brands to ensure they are being presented accurately in the marketplace.
Based in NYC, Dan loves spending time with his family in Boston and Long Island and drives between the two locations often. He enjoys traveling with his wife and checking out new bars and restaurants. If your establishment has a meat and cheese board…he is probably going to order it.
Natasha Walewski first joined GBN in 2011 during an internship where she supported our sales efforts in Philadelphia, alongside Origlio Beverage. In 2012, she accepted a full time position as our Regional Sales Manager in California and today is one of the most senior members of our team.
A Pittsburgh native, Natasha built a foundational knowledge of the industry working in restaurants steadily through high school and college. She developed a wealth of knowledge about our portfolio at one of the first dedicated Belgian Beer programs in the country, Sharp Edge.
She has since visited Belgium multiple times and is further inspired by the history and depth of passion of our breweries. Although she enjoys day to day sales, she is genuinely motivated to grow our historic breweries for the next generation.
Natasha enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking and being in nature. It is fitting that her favorite style of beers are sours, which are brews that are most dependent on their surrounding environment!
Shahan Stepanian joined our team in 2012 with an extensive background in bars and restaurants. His relationship with GBN started during his time as the beverage manager at the Belgian restaurant B Café, in New York’s Upper West Side. During his tenure there he began to understand Belgian beer and developed a true partnership with our sales team.
With a Master of Science in Social Research, Shahan’s ability to gather, sort and analyze data helps us in all facets of our business. He is the consummate team player and is always willing to spend extra time to help our team succeed. His favorite part of selling imports is that, in addition to their rich history, they are still a new and exciting experience for so many retailers and consumers.
As a Boston native, Shahan enjoys following Boston sports in the safety of his home in New Jersey. At home he most enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, working in the yard and grilling.
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER- MIDWEST
Ed Kane joined our team in 2014 and has over twenty-five years of industry experience as both a supplier and distributor representative. Considering his 11-year tenure at Louis Glunz Beer in Chicago, Ed has been selling GBN Brands for over 15 years. Based out of Chicago, Ed is a Certified Cicerone and our primary authority on draft technology, quality and troubleshooting. In 2017 he conducted GBN’s first off-flavor tasting seminar. His genuine passion for beer (especially Lambic) and traveling makes him the perfect fit for our team.
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER - SOUTHEAST
Emily Erler has been a valued member of our team since 2016. One our most well versed beer connoisseurs, her knowledge of brewing and beer styles was cultivated during her five years running the beer education program at Lowlands Group in Milwaukee. She truly enjoys making an impact in the marketplace by partnering with distributor sales team and educating retailers. Emily has held multiple positions with us based in Chicago and Cleveland. Now a resident of Florida, Emily is overseeing our Southeast market. A piece of her heart is always in Milwaukee however, made evident by her love of pilsners. In her spare time she enjoys going to live concerts and hanging with her sidekick Cairn Terrier, Ruby.
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER - SOUTHEAST
Emma Dunne joined the GBN team in March of 2019. She got her start in the beer industry at one of the finest institutions of Belgian Beer in the U.S., Monks Café in Philadelphia. Emma went on to work at Bell’s Brewing Inc. as a retail manager and bartender and ultimately spent two years with Ajax Turner in Tennessee as a Craft Specialist and On-Premise rep from 2015-2017. As an “Old World” beer connoisseur and history buff, Emma loves that there is always something to learn about imports and is eager to pass those lessons along to customers and consumers alike. Emma enjoys spending time fishing and boating on the intercoastal in South Florida where she resides, watching sports, reading sci-fi books and collecting typewriters.
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER - SOUTHWEST
Jacque Powers joined The Global Beer Network in April 2019 after spending the last 21 years in a variety of positions at Crescent Crown Distributing in Arizona. Whether it’s her experience as a delivery driver or most recently a Fine Beer Ambassador, her understanding of distributor operations and sales provides us the insight we need to be the best supplier to our wholesalers. Jacque developed a passion for selling imports by sharing the unique stories and history behind each producer, many of which were GBN brands. Outside of the beer industry, Jacque enjoys spending time with her dogs and contributing to her community through any charity she can.
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER - WEST
Jessica Archey joined our sales team in March of 2019, after a year with Wine Warehouse in California, as a Portfolio Brand Manager. During a 9-year span as Beverage Manager at Yard House Corporate, Jess developed an intimate knowledge of our portfolio and oversaw it’s success within a very dynamic beer program. Having visited our breweries in Belgium, she truly believes that the virture of a great import brand is that it can forge a multitude of emotional connections, be it to a memory from vacation or the rich history and culture of the brewery itself. When spending time at home in Southern California, Jess enjoys baking.
Regional Sales Manager - Northeast
Alicia Ciavarella started with GBN in October of 2019.
Regional Sales Manager - Northwest
Chelsea joined GBN in December of 2019 after spending two years as an on-premise sales representative at Columbia distributing in Oregon. She has spent the last decade in the industry, starting as a bartender and holding positions as beer buyer and tap room manager at various local breweries between Kalamazoo, Michigan and Portland, Oregon. Chelsea enjoys challenging people’s perception of imports by simply giving them an opportunity to taste the variety of beers and enjoys watching people have that “aha moment” when a brand connects. Chelsea spends a large part of her spare time in the mountains skiing, hiking or rock climbing. She is often accompanied by her Doberman Pinscher, Archer.