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Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas Names Dynamic Nonprofit Leader as Its Executive Director


Napa, CA (July 14, 2021) – The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas announces the appointment of Julie Cohen Theobald as the organization’s incoming Executive Director, effective September 7th, 2021. A transformational and energizing visionary with an extensive background in nonprofits and corporate leadership, Theobald will spearhead efforts and work alongside the Board of Directors for continued positive change within the organization.

“I am excited to join the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas and help to further the organization’s growth and evolution in this important period of change. The Court has a significant leadership opportunity to not only set the standard in the sommelier community but influence the broader beverage and hospitality industries. Working with the Board of Directors, I hope to bring a new vision to life in reshaping this historic wine education and examination body into an organization that is more inclusive, accessible, and transparent while upholding the values of integrity, exemplary knowledge, and humility. I am humbled by the opportunity and look forward to the challenge of achieving lasting progress within the organization,” says Theobald.

As the first female Executive Director and CEO of nonprofit arts organization Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), Theobald helped to move the ninety-year-old institution into the digital age. Theobald doubled EdTA’s operating budget, forged new partnerships, and transformed the widely respected nonprofit into a twenty-first century organization.

Her prior corporate leadership achievements at Procter & Gamble include guiding the international launch of Febreze—which later grew into a global, billion-dollar brand—and leading the $2 billion Tide detergent brand to its fastest growth in its sixty-year history. In addition to her more than twenty-five years of experience in marketing and leadership, Theobald holds an MBA from the University of Chicago in business economics and marketing, and a BA from Duke University in public policy. Her passion for travel, food, and wine has brought her to twenty-seven countries on five continents.

As the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas furthers its mission to create a more equitable space for wine education, Theobald will join Chair Emily Wines MS, Vice Chair Kathryn Morgan MS, and Director of Operations Kathleen Lewis, as the organization’s first-ever all-female leadership team. One of Theobald’s first priorities within the organization is to help identify and select candidates for four non-MS Board member seats. These candidates will be chosen for their expertise in education, ethics, business, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The organization is thrilled to welcome such an experienced and proven leader as its Executive Director. We are confident Julie will help the Board of Directors usher the Court into a new era and create a more positive wine education space for our members, candidates, students, and community at large,” says Emily Wines, Chair of the Board of Directors. “After a comprehensive interview process with a number of qualified men and women, we felt that Julie was truly the best individual for the job. In addition to her professionalism and integrity, she’s also extremely passionate and empathetic – all values that we hold in high esteem and want to promote as part of our organization.”

In a period of rapid change and growth, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas is committed to drive both internal and external change by engaging with its members, stakeholders, and larger community. Theobald’s appointment as Executive Director comes as the organization continues to prioritize professional responsibility by revising and publicly releasing its Code of Ethics; inclusion by launching a 100-scholarship initiative for BIPOC, women-identifying applicants, and those experiencing financial hardship; and accessibility by offering its new online Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination.


The Court was established in England in 1977 and sets the global standard of excellence for beverage service within the hospitality industry with integrity, exemplary knowledge, and humility. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The Americas chapter, which serves both North and South America, was established in 1987. Since then, 172 professionals have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter. For more information, please visit www.mastersommeliers.org.



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