Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Neurophysiologist leaps to a new career-leading New Mexico Brewers Guild

Tess Vidalis, executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, has been in office for three weeks. She has spent time visiting local breweries including Marble Brewery Downtown and meeting people in the industry. (Elaine D. Briseño/Journal)

Copyright © 2022

The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Brewers Guild has appointed New Mexico neurophysiologist Tess Vidalis to lead their organization.

She is the second woman in this position, succeeding Leah Black, who stepped down in late 2021 to focus on her consulting business.

The Executive Director has a significant role whose responsibilities include organizing events, running social media channels, fundraising, networking, financial oversight, updating the website and lobbying for policies and laws affecting the benefit the brewing industry.

Vidalis said working in the high-pressure environment of an operating room, where it is literally a matter of life or death, prepared her well for the fast-paced and demanding position.

She is also a lover of craft beer.

Vidalis stepped into the role of General Manager three weeks ago amid a flurry of activity as the guild prepares for its annual WinterBrew on Saturday 22nd January. It is also the time of year for membership renewal and the legislative session has begun.

Although Vidalis comes straight from a career in the medical field, that doesn’t mean she’s new to the brewing scene. Her life has kind of closed.

The New Mexico Brewers Guild, which champions breweries across the state, has named Tess Vidalis as its new executive director. (Courtesy New Mexico Brewers Guild)

As a young adult, she worked for six years at Chama River Brewing Co., one of the pioneers in the state’s craft brewing industry. The brewery closed its doors in 2017, but many current brewers and brewery owners got their start there.

She also has experience organizing major events and fundraisers. She volunteered with the symphony orchestra, Explora, and an equine therapy group.

Her experience was one of the things that made her an attractive candidate for the position, according to guild board member Ali Cattin. She said the guild wanted someone who is passionate about craft beer but also understands the world of non-profit organizations. The board, she said, received applications from several qualified candidates and deliberated at length before making a decision.

“Ultimately, we wanted someone who would know how to navigate this world and how to deal with the financial end,” she said. “And someone who can raise money and advocate for the brewing industry.”

About three years ago, Vidalis started thinking about leaving healthcare and moving to a career in public relations or public relations. She said this is the perfect opportunity.

“I have a very unique background,” she said. “This job fits perfectly with what I was looking for. I really enjoy talking to people and this job is a lot about making connections. I consider myself very fortunate that the board saw what I see in me.”

Vidalis and her husband returned to New Mexico from New Orleans in September and now live in Santa Fe. They lived in New Orleans so that her husband, a neurosurgeon, could complete his training. She said the two were dying to return to the state and its great beer.

“There’s nothing like it,” she said. “I just love New Mexico.”

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