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Champions of Responsibility Awards Dinner Recognizes Individuals for Lifetime Work Fighting Underage Drinking

United Industry Effort Led by and

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America to Keep Kids Alcohol-Free

Washington –– and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) hosted the Inaugural Champions of Responsibility Awards Dinner tonight at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. recognizing nominees for their work to keep alcohol out of kids’ hands, encourage kids to say “no” to underage drinking, and recommitting collective efforts to promote responsibility industrywide, the group announced today.

The event honored Richard “Rick” Birt, President and CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Master Police Officer Dimitrios “Jim” Mastoras of Arlington Police Department. Birt began his career as a SADD Student of the Year and went on to work in traffic safety, ultimately returning to SADD as Executive Vice President before his most recent promotion to head up the organization celebrating more than 30-years in operation. Birt also leads the SADD National Youth Leadership Councils. Arlington’s Master Police Officer Mastoras, serving honorably for over 22 years,  developed and implemented the first restaurant accreditation program in the U.S. –  the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) – with the goal of reducing alcohol related incidents. ARI focuses on effective practices and policies to help restaurants comply with the law and increase economic viability. The strategies Mastoras has implemented have been recognized by the US Department of Justice, and he has even authored a DOJ COPS Office toolkit titled, The Arlington Restaurant Initiative - A Nightlife Strategy to Improve Safety and Economic Viability. Mastoras’ work has helped to create awareness and share best practices, and is now used by departments across the U.S.

“WSWA members have a longstanding commitment to responsibility efforts in their communities just as our supplier partners have. Together, wholesalers and suppliers can harness the power of collective action and really make a positive impact on society,” said Michelle Korsmo, President and CEO of WSWA. “The Champions of Responsibility dinner reaffirms the group’s partnership and dedication to responsibility, as well as to celebrate and recognize tonight’s awardees for their outstanding work and impact,” she added.

Since 1991, underage drinking among our nation’s youth has been cut in half, while at the same time high school seniors are reporting all time high disapproval levels of binge drinking and record low levels of alcohol availability. Over the past ten years, 3.25 million fewer 12- to 20-year-olds report they have consumed alcohol in the past month.

“The distilled spirits industry is united in efforts to prevent underage drinking, and we are pleased to join with our distributor partners who are committed to keeping alcohol out of the hands of our nation’s youth,” said Chris Swonger, President and CEO, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and “A united effort makes an even bigger impact on our ultimate goal of eradicating underage drinking, and so we are grateful to WSWA for their renewed and continued support,” he added.

Following and WSWA’s announcement of the Think Responsibly campaign at the 2019 Convention, and WSWA will host a second “Champions of Responsibility” Awards Dinner in April at the 2020 Convention in Las Vegas. Proceeds from the 2020 tickets and table sales will go to’s Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Education and will be used to keep kids safe and alcohol-free in communities across the country.

Award Nominations for the 2020 Champions of Responsibility Awards will remain open until Friday, February 21, 2020.  Nominations should include the name of individual or company a 400-word submission summarizing their engagement in preventing underage drinking/access, along with a website, video or other documentation of the program or community effort. Complete contact information for the nominee should also be provided.  Submissions should be emailed to Leslie Kimball, Chief, Communications & Branding, [email protected].




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