The United Sommeliers Foundation (USF), a charitable organization dedicated to providing assistance to out-of-work wine professionals, is proud to announce the appointment of Tonya Pitts and Mia Van de Water, MS, to its Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mia and Tonya to our Board of Directors. Their combined
experience, leadership, and passion will be immensely valuable as we navigate this critical time
in our industry.” said Co-Founder and President Cristie Norman. “Both of these individuals were
nominated because of their respect within the restaurant and wine industry, and their years of
dedication and passion will bring a level of energy and excitement to a young generation of
sommeliers eager for mentorship and inspiration” said Co-Founder and Treasurer Chris
Blanchard, MS.

Tonya Pitts is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a member of
Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Her 30-year career has been shaped by women chefs and
restaurant owners. As Sommelier & Wine Director for One Market Restaurant in San Francisco,
Tonya curated a wine list with offerings by women, Black and Latino winemakers, and her list
has received a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator since 2012. She established
Women in Wine to improve representation in the industry, and joined Wine Unify as an
ambassador, advisory board member and mentor to people in the BIPOC and LGBTQ
communities who are pursuing careers in the industry. She is also a core committee member of
the Batonnage Forum Mentorship Program for Hospitality. “I am so excited to join forces with
the USF team. The work being done by USF is imperative to the survival of our collective
Sommelier community.” Said Pitts.

Mia Van de Water is a restaurant industry veteran with a career spanning nearly two decades
and was named one of as Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year (2016). In 2017, she joined the
sommelier team at the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park, Michelin 3-Star and 2017 World’s Best
Restaurant (San Pellegrino World’s Fifty Best). She is now the Assistant General Manager at
Cote Korean Steakhouse in Manhattan (Michelin 1-Star & James Beard Best New Restaurant
2018). Mia passed the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam in 2014 with the highest
score of the year, earning her a Rudd Scholarship and the Johnston Medal, and passed the
Master Sommelier exam (twice) in 2018. Alongside her operational experience, Mia is heavily
involved in wine education, having created educational programming for the teams at both
North End Grill and Eleven Madison Park, and teaching courses around the country for the
Court of Master Sommeliers and Wines From Spain. “I’m thrilled and humbled to be joining the
board of USF. We in the hospitality industry love taking care of people, and in this time of
unprecedented crisis, I’m very happy to have the opportunity to help take care of our own
people.” Said Van de Water.

The Foundation to date has awarded over $600,000 to their applicants and is continuing to
accept donations as the coronavirus pandemic continues. To apply for aid, donate or learn
more please visit