Our Team

Meet our tribe of sole sisters.

We have a rock-star team of experts in event production, fundraising and development, corporate sponsorships, volunteer wrangling, branding, graphic design, and—of course—the wine 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.

The women at Wine Women & Shoes are some of the most professional, fun, and caring women I have ever met. It’s why the model works so well for so many different charities – they genuinely care about the success of every event for every charity, and they help you find what works for your market.

– Lauren Blacketter, Board Member Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center | Midland, Texas

 

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.

 

Heather Frank
Director of Project Management & Events

With a mind for business and a heart for service, Heather Frank brings passion and expertise to every cause and charity we touch. Born and raised in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, she moved to California to attend California Polytechnic State University (better known as Cal Poly) at San Luis Obispo, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Always the inquisitive one, she went on to get a master’s degree in both Nonprofit Administration and Education. Heather’s career has included molding young minds as an elementary school teacher and cultivating an atmosphere of giving in fundraising and development. Her personal charity work has been focused on youth advocacy in Kern County where she chaired a WW&S event for 5 years. We marveled at her fundraising skills and jumped at the opportunity to have her come aboard. You can usually find Heather with a Starbucks coffee in her hand and a pair of gladiator sandals on her constantly moving feet.

 

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!

 

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
Director of Graphic Design & Web

With experience in graphics, wine, events, and luxury retail experience, Sarah can slip on nearly any style and know exactly how to rock it. She grew up in Ithaca, New York, and began her career designing graphics and promotional materials for her hometown’s Hangar Theatre. In 2004, she headed west to San Diego to join her then-boyfriend/now husband and started working at In Motion Events as their in-house graphic designer, assisting with the production of large-scale events like Komen’s Race for the Cure. When her husband’s career relocated them to Napa Valley, Sarah scored a position as Assistant Buyer and Lead Visual Merchandiser for Darioush Winery’s luxe retail boutique.  Today, she lives in Boise, Idaho and heads up WW&S branding, web and graphic design. When she’s not dreaming up our next great event design, you’ll most likely find her in running shoes with her chocolate lab Porter.

 

Allie Olcese
Assistant Graphic Designer

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.

 

Sharon Leighty
Business Development Manager

Sharon’s broad background in marketing leadership helps our charity partners cultivate successful guest and donor relationships in virtually every industry. She’s worked with organizations ranging from local wineries to national healthcare corporations and international telecommunications giants serving clients like CBS, Time Warner, NBC, ABC, Disney, Warner Brothers, Spielberg, and Lucasfilm. She sits on executive and advisory boards for several of Sonoma County’s most respected healthcare and artistic venues, and travels annually to the Sundance Film Festival to choose films for public screenings in California’s wine country. Sharon served for five years as the founding Sonoma County Director of The Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma County (CANVAS), and for three years on the committee of one of the most successful Wine Women & Shoes events in the country. A former winegrower and producer in Alexander Valley, Sharon lives in Healdsburg with the never-ending challenge of triplets, now all in college. You won’t find stilettos in this country girl’s closet— you’re more likely to find her pulling on dressage riding boots, or sandals for the beach of some remote Pacific island.

 

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.