January 14th, 2021

Dear ACS Members,

In the interest of moving our organization forward by seizing the opportunity for change, creativity and a greater positive impact for our members, the ACS board has made several important decisions which we would like to share with you.
The repercussions of having to cancel our 2020 annual conference posed the board with challenges. It led us to evaluate our fundamental principles and to consider how best to preserve our organization, mission and ensuring that ACS remains the go-to resource in American artisan cheese for our members.

After much consideration, the board voted to engage an association management company to assist in everyday operational support, Civica Associations Conferences and Exhibitions (Civica). The management company will coordinate closely with the board and member-based committees to ensure that members receive prompt and full support as in years past. Additionally, we are thrilled to share that our existing staff members, Sarah Spira and Heather Tucker, will continue their work for ACS under the Civica umbrella, ensuring that their deep knowledge of ACS and our community will be carried over to Civica.

The board has also wrestled with the ongoing challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to create for our communities and to our annual in-person events. Given our concern for the health, safety and security of all our members, the board has decided to transition our annual in-person conference, previously to be held in Des Moines, Iowa, into a virtual education event at the end of July 2021. Our much-loved Judging & Competition (J&C) event has been cancelled, while our Certified Cheese Professional Exam will be held as a virtual event as it was in 2020. We understand that many of our members count on the J&C to receive valuable feedback from expert judges. We are reimagining how we can best offer this element of ACS to our members later in 2021 without compromising the integrity of J&Cs from years past.

We are making these decisions now to ensure we have time to develop exciting alternatives and explore ways to connect with each other. We are confident that this digital format will enable us to provide value through a wide range of educational and networking opportunities to foster community, help our members successfully navigate a changing industry and, of course, celebrate accomplishments in artisan cheesemaking.

There can be nothing to replace the in-person conference experience and we anticipate our in-person Portland 2022 conference will be quite an event! In the meantime, we look forward to creating something new and exploring new ways of connecting. We thank you for your continued support of ACS.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Jeremy Stephenson
American Cheese Society, President
AMERICAN CHEESE SOCIETY | cheesesociety.org | 720.328.2788