Big Philly Beer Week news: Don Russell has stepped down from his position as executive director of the popular beer festival. The immensely popular citywide festival is gearing up for its seventh year (it runs May 30-June 8, 2014) and Russell (aka Joe Sixpack of the Daily News) has been involved since its inception.
We reached out to Philly Beer Week chairman of the board of directors William Reed (who is also co-owner of Johnny Brenda's and Standard Tap) and to Don Russell himself to find out what led to the split. It appears Russell and the board couldn't come to terms on salary.
"I'm totally proud of Philly Beer Week," Russell told us. "I loved all the work I did to build it into what it became - an unprecedented event! But over time, specifically the past couple of months, it became clear to me that the majority of the board of directors didn't share my vision for PBW - specifically, that they didn't value my time or work that reflect my degree of expertise and the effort I put into it."
For Russell, Philly Beer Week was a fulltime job. He isn't quite sure what he'll be doing next (other than enjoying the holidays with friends and family), but he did want us to make sure to stress that his Daily News column will continue. "Joe Sixpack has been around for 17 years and it's not going anywhere."
Here's what Reed told us:
Don was part of PBW from the beginning. His collaboration with Bruce Nichols and Tom Peters helped launch what is the first and best Beer Week celebration. It's been ripped off, err... emulated a hundred times over, across the country and abroad.
Philly Beer Week is the work of many people, and Don was always a big part of the leadership and vision. His role of Executive Director was the sole paid position of what's essentially a grassroots, volunteer-run organization.
The board of directors and Don couldn't agree on fair compensation for the coming year and I believe Don felt his work undervalued.
It's a big loss to us at PBW. Don has been a friend to most of us on the board for many years. He's earned my respect and admiration on a professional level and I'm sorry to see him resign.
The board is currently searching for a new executive director, but there's no need to worry, beer lovers: Philly Beer Week will continue to be as awesome as ever. As Reed says, "There are so many talented people and too many years of building up the beer community in Philadelphia to let this be a problem."