Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 11:49 pm | Fair with Haze 67º


Laurie Jervis: Santa Barbara Vintners Announces New Chief Executive Officer

The Santa Barbara Vintners has announced the hiring of Alison Laslett to lead the nonprofit organization, which supports and promotes Santa Barbara County’s diverse wine region.

Laslett replaces Morgen McLaughlin, who led the SBV for four years but left in late July to accept a similar position for Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Laslett, who started her new job Wednesday, brings 25 years of experience leading and consulting for nonprofits including the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Most recently, Laslett founded and managed Represent Consulting, which provided leadership consulting services to companies, nonprofit groups, boards and executives.

From 2013 to 2015, Laslett was a leader at Parent Revolution, a $5 million nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform public education.

According to her Facebook page, Laslett resides in Marina del Ray.

“I have been captivated since my first interview with the (SBV) Board,” Laslett noted in a news release. “The people are tremendous. They’re authentic and driven, and obviously what makes this industry thrive.

"Between the stunning beauty of this land and the magnetism of these winemakers, Santa Barbara Wine Country has it all.  We’re going to share that with the world.”

The president of SBV’s nine-member board of directors voiced similar enthusiasm about Laslett.

Alison Laslett Click to view larger
Alison Laslett (Courtesy photo)

“We are thrilled to welcome Alison to Santa Barbara County,” said Matt Murphy, owner of Presqu’ile Winery in Orcutt.

“Her extensive experience as a consensus builder, innovator and leadership expert in the nonprofit arena will serve our industry and community well,” he said.

Laslett's LinkedIn and social media profiles did not indicate whether she possesses any wine industry experience.

In her bio on, which urges viewers to “meet your professional potential,” Laslett wrote that she started working in nonprofits as a teen at a group of Quaker summer camps called the Farm and Wilderness Foundation.

“Over the next 20 years, I held most positions available, eventually becoming the co-director of the residential camp for the oldest teenagers.”

Laslett also noted that she spent nearly 10 years working for Vista del Mar Child and Family Services, which she describes as the largest group home in Los Angeles, before Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors lured her away to become the CEO of an organization called Communities for Teaching Excellence, a start-up founded by the Gates Foundation.

Laslett graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York with a bachelor of arts in liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities in 1991, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Santa Barbara Vintners, formerly the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, is a nonprofit 501 (c) 6 organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a world-class, authentic wine producing and wine grape growing region.

The association includes winery members whose annual production is at least 75 percent Santa Barbara County (or sub-AVA) labeled, winery associates, vineyards, vineyard management companies, hospitality and industry associate members. 

The SBV produces a spring festival and wine country weekends; educational seminars and tastings; provides information to consumers, trade and media; and advocates for the Santa Barbara County wine and grape industry.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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