Diversity is Strength, Unity is PowerWe’re a new firm built on the concept that businesses and industries are stronger when they work together. Grow & Fortify creates, grows and strengthens organizations and the businesses they support.
Entrepreneurs have great ideas. But town/county/state regulations, codes, laws and interpretations often stall progress. We develop and execute strategies to overcome challenges to get entrepreneurs to that ultimate goal: startup.
Industry organizations get things done. They unite individuals and businesses around common causes to create positive change. We grow and fortify organizations and develop campaigns and programs that support members.
We should never stop learning. Neither should entrepreneurs or government officials. We share experience and knowledge upon which new ideas, regulatory interpretations and laws can grow.
Advocacy, lobbying, grassroots. Call it what you like, but it’s often necessary in order to change perceptions, regulations and law. Our work extends from Annapolis to county seats to town councils to get the results needed to grow business.
Founder. Writer, publisher, educator, promoter, lobbyist… these are a few ways to describe Kevin. He founded Grow & Fortify to do for entrepreneurs and organization what he helped do for the Maryland Wineries Association as its executive director since 2013: build and strengthen. Kevin started out writing press articles for the wine industry, but soon grew the organization with new events, promotional programs, government affairs initiatives and more. He is the chair of the Maryland Tourism Coalition, past president of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, and past chair of the WineAmerica State & Regional Associations Advisory Council. Kevin holds a masters in environmental journalism from CU-Boulder, a doctorate in communications design from University of Baltimore, and a bachelors in journalism and music composition from Loyola University, where he teaches book publishing.
Event Manager. Abby Casarella brings 9+ years of professional experience in Maryland’s Craft Beverage Industry to her role at G&F. As the Event Manager for G&F, she organizes fun and amazing events to help promote craft beer, wine, and distilled spirits and helps to increase recognition of and buy-in for the local craft marketplace.
Abby previously served as the general manager for a Milkhouse Brewery, a farm brewery in Mt. Airy where she ran the taproom, managed staff, helped in the back office, and planned all large and small-scale events. Prior to that, she worked for a wine distributor in sales. She sparked her career in craft beverages and her love for the industry at Flying Dog Brewery, serving in several roles including local sales, promotion, and events.
Abby’s college years and early career were mostly spent on the back of a horse. Abby earned her bachelor’s degree in Equine Science from SUNY Morrisville. Abby has served on the Frederick Beer Week Board as well as a board member of the Frederick County Humane Society. She is thrilled to be part of the G&F team and is excited to put her event planning experience into action.
Director of Strategy & Solutions. Kelly has spent over a decade working in either agricultural policy, land preservation or local food systems work. She was Howard County’s first Food Policy Director, making huge strides from food and farmers. Before that, she was the Executive Director of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council and prior to that Kelly served as Director of Rural Lands at 1000 Friends of Maryland, where she administered the Keep Farmers Farming campaign, as well as the Partners for Open Space coalition. She has also worked for the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Baltimore County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program. In addition to serving on the Rural Legacy Advisory Board, the Partners for Open Space Executive Committee, and the Maryland Food Policy Blueprint Advisory Committee, Kelly is also a LEAD Class VII alumni.
Director of Operations. Food, farms and economic development have been Janna’s passions since the early 2000s. She most recently worked for the USDA National Organic Program’s Accreditation and International Activities Division, where she conducted auditing and accreditation activities related to organic certifiers and international partners. Prior to that, Janna was the Agricultural Marketing Specialist at the University of Maryland Extension, Prince George’s County. In that capacity she also served on the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission Board, the Southern Maryland Meats Steering Committee, and the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council. Janna is also a LEAD Maryland Class VII alumni. Prior to the Extension position, she was the Marketing & Outreach Manager for FreshFarm Markets, where she managed four Maryland farmers markets, developed community level partnerships, conducted farm visits and helped increase farmers’ visibility. Janna also spent three years at the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, working on public health nutrition campaigns. She received a masters degree from the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health at New York University, with an emphasis on the environmental and social impacts of food production systems.
Communications Manager. Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Callie has always possessed a passion for agriculture, value-added agriculture, and supporting and protecting local Maryland businesses. Her family owns a local wine, beer, and spirits shop that shaped her background in the craft beverage industry. Joining our team immediately after graduating from Towson University with a degree in Mass Communication, her experiences in communication, public relations, and special events gives Callie an edge when it comes to marketing techniques.
For Whom We Work
Our clients include: Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland, Maryland Distillers Guild, various breweries, wineries and other value-added agricultural startups.
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