Home Industry News Releases The United Sommeliers Foundation Announces the Appointment of Two New Board Members 

The United Sommeliers Foundation Announces the Appointment of Two New Board Members 


WASHINGTON, D.C.—September 28th, 2020 – The United Sommeliers Foundation (USF), a  charitable organization dedicated to providing assistance to out-of-work wine professionals, is  proud to announce the appointment of Tonya Pitts and Mia Van de Water, MS, to its Board of  Directors, effective immediately. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Mia and Tonya to our Board of Directors. Their combined  experience, leadership, and passion will be immensely valuable as we navigate this critical time  in our industry.” said Co-Founder and President Cristie Norman. “Both of these individuals were  nominated because of their respect within the restaurant and wine industry, and their years of  dedication and passion will bring a level of energy and excitement to a young generation of  sommeliers eager for mentorship and inspiration” said Co-Founder and Treasurer Chris  Blanchard, MS. 

Tonya Pitts is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of  Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Her 30-year career has been shaped by women chefs and  restaurant owners. As Sommelier & Wine Director for One Market Restaurant in San Francisco,  

Tonya curated a wine list with offerings by women, Black and Latino winemakers, and her list  has received a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator since 2012. She established  Women in Wine to improve representation in the industry, and joined Wine Unify as an  ambassador, advisory board member and mentor to people in the BIPOC and LGBTQ  communities who are pursuing careers in the industry. She is also a core committee member of  the Batonnage Forum Mentorship Program for Hospitality. “I am so excited to join forces with  the USF team. The work being done by USF is imperative to the survival of our collective  Sommelier community.” Said Pitts. 

Mia Van de Water is a restaurant industry veteran with a career spanning nearly two decades  and was named one of as Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year (2016). In 2017, she joined the  sommelier team at the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park, Michelin 3-Star and 2017 World’s Best  Restaurant (San Pellegrino World’s Fifty Best). She is now the Assistant General Manager at  Cote Korean Steakhouse in Manhattan (Michelin 1-Star & James Beard Best New Restaurant  2018). Mia passed the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam in 2014 with the highest  score of the year, earning her a Rudd Scholarship and the Johnston Medal, and passed the  Master Sommelier exam (twice) in 2018. Alongside her operational experience, Mia is heavily  involved in wine education, having created educational programming for the teams at both  North End Grill and Eleven Madison Park, and teaching courses around the country for the  Court of Master Sommeliers and Wines From Spain. “I’m thrilled and humbled to be joining the 

board of USF. We in the hospitality industry love taking care of people, and in this time of  unprecedented crisis, I’m very happy to have the opportunity to help take care of our own  people.” Said Van de Water. 

The Foundation to date has awarded over $600,000 to their applicants and is continuing to  accept donations as the coronavirus pandemic continues. To apply for aid, donate or learn  more please visit www.unitedsommeliersfoundation.org. 

About The United Sommeliers Foundation: The United Sommeliers Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide information and immediate financial assistance to Sommeliers experiencing a pause or termination of employment due to circumstances beyond their control. The organization assists sommeliers nationwide and was founded by several of the industry’s leading experts with more than 100 years combined experience and knowledge. The organization’s goal is to positively impact the wine industry and the sommelier community for years to come. Please visit www.unitedsommeliersfoundation.org for more information.

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