Our Team

MEET OUR CAST OF CHARACTERS

We have a talented team of experts in event production, fundraising and development, corporate sponsorships, volunteer wrangling, branding, graphic design, and the beverage business. We’re pros at what we do, and absolutely committed to the success of our nonprofit partners. We listen, we collaborate, and we pull off events in your community that will be talked about for years to come.

Our skills have been honed on the widely successful Wine Women & Shoes fundraising events. We bring the same energy, creativity, and expertise to Farm to Table(aux).

 

Elaine Honig
Founder and President

Elaine is a brilliant accessorizer and serial entrepreneur who thrives on creating brands, building businesses and helping nonprofits thrive. A native Oklahoman, she paid for her Economics degree at Tufts University by running a successful student rental management business. While pursuing post-college real estate projects in San Francisco, she met and married a promising young vintner, which refocused her enterprising spirit on building the fledgling Honig wine brand. Over the next 21 years, she marketed, branded, and pounded the pavement growing the winery that started in a garage into a nationally recognized and respected Napa Valley brand.  Elaine developed Wine Women & Shoes as a local community fundraiser that would double as a marketing opportunity for Napa Valley wines—a total win-win, whose formula proved (and continues to prove) irresistible. Today, Elaine is an expert in the fine art of wine & shoe pairing (a.k.a. SHOEMMELIER), as well as an active participant in her Napa Valley community. She has served on the boards of several Napa Valley agricultural and land trusts, is currently on the board of the di Rosa art center, and has been honored as an Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. She and her loveable dog Houdini make their home in St. Helena.

 

Sue Furdek
Director of Marketing & Business Development

Before moving to wine country, Sue was a city girl—working more than 10 years at San Francisco’s esteemed advertising agency Hal Riney & Partners, and luxury publishing house Condé Nast. She was lured into the wine business during the first dot-com boom, thanks to an internet startup that later became wine.com. She has spent the last 15 years overseeing marketing and communications for some of this country’s most iconic Cabernet producers (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cardinale, Lokoya), leading public relations for Domaine Chandon and its renowned restaurant, and embracing the wine country lifestyle with her Australian winemaker husband. Though she lights up at adventure travel and has trekked all over the globe, Sue is a California girl at heart: embracing anything that’s outdoors (skiing, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, walking in the vineyard with her golden retriever), and slipping easily from Tori Birch flip flops into Dolce & Gabbana wedges. She’s a bubbles and beluga kind of gal who loves entertaining, and whose bocce team considers wine and food an essential part of the competition.

Angie Carwile
Business Development Manager

She may be the newest member of our Studio 4Forty team, but we are already exclaiming, “Have no fear, Angie is here!” Angie grew up in a small Indiana agricultural town, earned her B.A. in Organizational Communication at Purdue University and ultimately transitioned to Charleston, South Carolina, which she calls home today. As our Business Development Manager, she brings a robust background of sales and management in varied industries, along with an accomplished list of credentials in events, major giving and planned gifts. She’s done frontline fundraising for big names such as The Citadel, Roper St. Francis Hospital Foundation, United Way and most recently, 3 years at Charleston’s famous Spoleto Festival. Angie currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Florence Crittenton Programs of SC, where she co-chaired Wine Women & Shoes and gained first hand experience with our team and processes from a nonprofit perspective, making her the perfect fit to share that knowledge with our potential partners.

Heather Frank
Director of Project Management & Events

There are people who WANT to change the world, and people who actually do it. We are proud to say that Heather Frank has, does and will continue to be a game changer everyday, not only in her role with us at Studio4Forty, but in her local community of Kern County as well. Heather holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Education with Non-Profit Administration. Her education, along with her heart for service and years of event and fund development experience, creates the perfect leader for our Project Management team. And lead she does, on the phone and on the ground with our charity partners – having helped 250 events in over 100 different cities raise over $25 million dollars in her years as Director of Project Management and Events.

 

Krista Elmore
Project Manager

Krista was born and raised in California’s Central Valley and spent most of her adult life in the scenic beauty of San Luis Obispo wine country.  She majored in history at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and earned a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on social awareness from Antioch University. Just before her last quarter at Cal Poly, Krista began working with RISE in San Luis Obispo as they expanded their events and operations, and in 2015, she managed the first annual Wine Women & Shoes event to benefit RISE. Krista fell in love with WW&S, the events, the wines, and our style, and pretty immediately convinced us she needed to join our Project Management team. Living in Georgia with her U.S. Army husband, she expands our offices to the East Coast. We can’t wait to see her light up the South with her incredible commitment to service!

 

Ashlee Meier
Project Manager

Born outside of San Diego, Ashlee has always been a California girl with a love of country music and southern charm. She began performing at the age of two and still feels most at home on a stage… or running the show. She moved to Music City to attend Belmont University where she earned her Bachelors in Music Business & Marketing. After interning at Nashville’s most recognized model & talent agency, AMAX, she joined their ranks right out of college and worked her way to Agency Director, spending 4 years in Nashville’s growing fashion industry. Having always been rooted in service, Ashlee found her passion for event planning through volunteer work. After serving as a volunteer and a Junior Board Member, she took the leap to nonprofit work at YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee. In her 5 years at YWCA she received numerous recognitions: Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30, Nashville Emerging Leader, Woman of Influence in the Nonprofit Sector, ‘Living the Mission’ Award, and the prestigious Allstate Greater Good Leadership Program where she earned a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at Kellogg School of Management. Most importantly, she helped to birth and manage the Nashville Wine Women & Shoes for its first 5 years! Her excitement over the success of WW&S brought her to our team where she celebrates the opportunity to share her insights and expertise with so many incredible nonprofit partners.

 

Jessica Thornton
Director of Winery Relations

Some people were born for this business, and Jessica is one of them. Her mother worked as a private chef to the stars and instilled in her daughter a profound appreciation for great food, fine wines and giving back to those in need. Originally from Lake Tahoe, Jessica studied Public Relations at ASU and started her career working events, planning and executing worldwide VIP concerts and spectacles before following her bliss to Napa Valley. Since landing in Napa, she has lent her expertise cultivating winery relations for the glamorous and thriving Napa Valley Film Festival as well as the epically hip BottleRock music festival. When she’s not swirling and sniffing out new wine donors and partners for our events, she’s traveling the world in search of her next delicious discovery.

 

Alexis Jessup
Winery Relations Coordinator

Alexis is another lifetime lover of shoes who swears by the timeless wisdom of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” When this sassy third-generation Napan joined our team, it was like Cinderella slipping on the glass slipper—we knew we’d found our girl. Alexis majored in Psychology with an emphasis on Social Psychology and now puts her training to use every day sustaining relationships with our winery partners. In her free time, she’s a devoted wife, daughter, sister, and diehard sports fan who loves reading, running, sewing and baking, and also teaching The Dailey Method. Her favorite food group is cheese, which of course pairs oh so well with wine!

Sarah Obialero
Creative Director

You know those people who are so bursting with creative talent that you just have to look at them in awe and think, “How do they do it?” Yeah, Sarah is one of those. Having lived bi-coastal, from New York to California, and gathering a wealth of experience in industries from wine and events to theater and luxury retail, Sarah brings a diverse and unique perspective that elevates every project. In the 6 years she has served as Director of Graphics, Sarah has played a foundational role in building Studio 4Forty and our event brands with excellence, and has created a cutting edge graphics program that personally caters to each of our partners.  She is a creative powerhouse with a special talent for connecting with all of our teams and helping bring their visions to life.

 

Allie Olcese
Graphic Designer Manager

Allie grew up in Sacramento, doing volunteer work and loving shoes since the time she could walk. Since she also found herself drawn to logos, labels and packaging, she channeled her artistic energy into a graphic design degree at the Art Institute in Sacramento. Fortunately for us, after graduation, she moved to Santa Rosa and stumbled upon WW&S, just as we were hunting for another creative force to add to our team.  Needless to say, the shoe fit perfectly, and the rest is history.

 

Ray Lavelle
Administration and Accounting

Ray joins WW&S with two glamorous Collies and more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit and government agency administration. From an Arizona criminal defense firm and the State Bar of California, to a New York City needle-exchange agency and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, he has seen and administered it all. Ray loves traveling, and has criss-crossed Europe, embraced the beach lifestyle in Puerto Rico, and danced in the New Year in London, New York, and San Francisco. When he’s not on the move, you’ll find Ray showing his dogs in AKC conformation shows, listening to show tunes, or polishing up his ruby slippers.