Nearest & Jack - photo of rickhouse interior

Two Historic Whiskey Distilleries Partner to Advance Diversity

Inspired by the historic and storied relationship between Nathan "Nearest" Green, godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, and Jasper "Jack" Daniel, founder of America's first registered distillery, a joint initiative by Uncle Nearest Whiskey and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey has established The Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative.

With a combined pledge of $5 million, this three pronged initiative will invest time and resources in BIPOC working in the whiskey industry who aspire to become head distillers, heads of maturation, and production managers. The pledge will also provide mentorship to BIPOC entrepreneurs in the distilling business in addition to advancing STEM and distilling focused skills within the Tennessee college curriculum.

2020 Participants Announced

Discover Our Programs

Leadership Acceleration - photo of laboratory

Leadership Acceleration Program

The Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) was created to advance the career paths of talented professionals to positions of visibility and importance within the spirits industry.

  • There are two candidates accepted into the program each cycle which runs approximately 18 months.
  • We seek candidates with experience in Beverage Alcohol, Consumer Goods, and/or Hospitality who are ready for mid-career acceleration. (Not entry level)
  • Roles include Distillery Operations, Marketing, and Sales which have a visible presence and impact on the respective company.
  • Must apply through each company's established processes.

Inquire today about the Leadership Acceleration Program.


Business Incubator - photo of whiskey barrels

Business Incubation Program

The Business Incubation Program (BIP) was created to build BIPOC owned businesses through access to industry expertise and resources.

  • Must have a brand with at least 2 years in the marketplace.
  • Must be at least 1,000 9L cases.
  • Must have financial security.
  • Must be majority BIPOC owned.
  • Must have a distributor or be self distributing where legal.
  • Founders / Owners must be engaged in the running of the business. (not passive owners) Ownership structure clearly defined and free of conflicts.

Inquire about the Business Incubation Program.


Motlow State Community College logo

Motlow State Community College

With a focus on the alcohol beverage distilling industry, the Nearest Green School of Distilling leverages an accredited STEM based curriculum within the academic offerings at Motlow State Community College.

Explore this opportunity at Motlow State College.

Inquire Today About Our Programs

Photo of Byron Copeland

Byron Copeland

Leadership Acceleration Program

Currently an Operations Team Leader at the Jack Daniel Cooperage, Byron Copeland has been selected for the Leadership Acceleration Program with a track toward leadership roles in operations and site management at Jack Daniel’s and Brown-Forman.

Byron joined Brown-Forman in 2015 after previous operations roles for Sabra Dipping Company, Target, and Atlanta Gas Light. He earned a BA from Morehouse College and will complete his MBA from Columbia Southern University this December.

The Leadership Acceleration Program is designed to advance the professional development of African Americans with goals of being future head distillers, distillery managers, and other senior management positions within the alcohol beverage industry.

Photo of Tracie Franklin

Tracie Franklin

Leadership Acceleration Program

With a background as an actor, bartender, and whiskey ambassador, Tracie Franklin has been selected for the Leadership Acceleration Program with a potential track to become Head Distiller at the Nearest Green Distillery.

Tracie earned a BFA from California State University-Fullerton and previously worked with William Grant & Sons, Whersky, and SPIRIBAM.

The Leadership Acceleration Program is designed to advance the professional development of African Americans with goals of being future head distillers, distillery managers, and other senior management positions within the alcohol beverage industry.

Du Nord Craft Spirits logo

Du Nord Craft Spirits

Business Incubation Program

A small batch distillery based in Minneapolis, Minnesota producing gin, vodka, liqueurs and whiskeys – Du Nord Craft Spirits has been selected for the 2020 Business Incubation Program.

Du Nord was founded in 2013 and is committed to diversifying the craft alcohol community by actively recruiting underrepresented communities of women and racial minorities.

The Business Incubation Program provides African American entrepreneurs with mentorship in all areas of the distilling business including access to marketing, branding, expanded distribution networks, and other assets and opportunities for growth.

Explore Du Nord Social Spirits