1st Graduates Complete Nearest and Jack Leadership Program
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Jack Daniel, Uncle Nearest Celebrate 1st Graduates From Whiskey Apprenticeship Program, 1 of Whom Lands Job With Jack Daniel’s

Nearest and Jack

Byron Copeland has graduated from the Jack Daniel Distillery and the Nearest Green Distillery’s Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative. (Photo: Brown-Forman)

The Jack Daniel Distillery and the Nearest Green Distillery announced Wednesday that Byron Copeland and Tracie Franklin have graduated from the Leadership Acceleration Program, a comprehensive whiskey industry apprenticeship program that’s part of the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative. Copeland and Franklin are the first graduates of the program. Following his graduation, Copeland has been named manager of leadership acceleration and maturation innovation at the Jack Daniel Distillery.

Franklin, on the other hand, has not yet made a decision regarding her future.

“I’m weighing all of my options and will hopefully secure the perfect position soon,” she told Whiskey Raiders.

Launched by Jack Daniel and Nearest Green Distillery in 2020, The Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative “aims to advance diversity within the American whiskey industry with the Leadership Acceleration Program, Business Incubation Program, and partnership with Motlow State College.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than being part of the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative. Learning so many aspects of the industry and working hands-on with the Jack Daniel’s and Brown-Forman teams was invaluable,” Copeland said. “It’s been a dream to work side-by-side with some of the best whiskey makers in the industry at the Jack Daniel Distillery over the last two years. Having the opportunity to help others just like me is something that I cherish, and I can’t wait to help others establish their careers in this industry.”

In his new role, Copeland will oversee operations with a focus on improving the whiskey making process and site management, lead and mentor others in the Leadership Acceleration Program for Jack Daniel’s, and work with Master Distiller Chris Fletcher and Assistant Distiller Lexie Phillips to lead whiskey maturation innovation and development.

Before being selected to the Leadership Acceleration Program, Copeland served as Operations Team Leader at the Jack Daniel Cooperage. Copeland joined Brown-Forman, which owns Jack Daniel’s, in 2015.

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David Morrow is the managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.