The Women Culinary and Spirits Program of The LEE Initiative Reveals New Class of Mentees

Now in its fifth year, The Women Culinary and Spirits Program of The LEE Initiative  announces the newest class of mentees. This program creates a path to leadership for women in the food and beverage industry through mentorship, training, and continuing education opportunities. The goal of this program is to elevate women into leadership positions within the industry with the mindset that doing so brings more equity and diversity to the industry.

After a record number of applications, the selection committee for The LEE Initiative announces this year’s class:

Culinary Mentees

Daniela Gonzalez Garcia of Edinburg, TX

Jessica Taylor-Hewlette of Memphis, TN

Liliana Myers of Denver, CO

River Smith of Corbin, KY

Susan Bean of Oakland, CA

Taylor Jarvis of Bristol, VA


Spirit Mentees

Jaz’min Weaver of Detroit, MI

Rhea Buck of Charlotte, NC


The 2022 program will include the following:

Externships: weeklong externship under a notable and successful culinary and beverage leaders across the country. The externship will include training in all aspects of the restaurant business, from back of house to accounting.

FAB Summer Camp: travel to Charleston for educational and inspirational workshops created by women, for women in the hospitality industry.

The Kentucky Experience: travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for an immersive experience that highlights some of the unique aspects of the hospitality industry in Kentucky. These days will include:

  • Maker’s Mark: mentees will engage in an exciting educational experience with the Maker’s Mark Private Selection program, a first-of-its-class custom barrel offering where mentees will taste and craft a bespoke “recipe” for a signature bourbon and learn more about the company’s best in class sustainability practices.
  • Monogram – mentees will spend a day with our partners at the Monogram Experience Center. During the day, the mentees will prepare a multi-course lunch on Monogram appliances, participate in a hands-on media training, learn how to cultivate a professional social media presence, and explore how to build their personal brands to attract corporate partnerships.
  • Stave & Thief Society - Spirit mentees will complete the Executive Bourbon Steward certification at Moonshine University. This day-long bourbon education workshop offers state-of-the-art classroom training, hands-on distilling, and advanced sensory training to equip students with the knowledge to speak confidently about Kentucky's signature spirit.
  • Clayton & Crume – spirit mentees will create custom leather aprons at Louisville leather maker Clayton & Crume. 

Fundraiser Dinners: At the conclusion of the program, the mentees will host two fundraisers to raise money for the next class of mentees. This is another opportunity for this year's class to work together, showcase their skills and celebrate their accomplishments and experience in the Women Culinary and Spirits Program.

The Women Culinary and Spirits Program would not be possible without the generous support from partners and donors including Audi of America, Foxhollow Farm, Libbey, Maker’s Mark, and Richard’s Rainwater.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.