Last week, Denizens Brewing Co. co-founder Julie Verratti was unloading late-arriving pallets of cans from midnight until 4 AM so the team could begin packaging beer first thing in the morning. Today, she’s running around to local restaurants making sales calls. Come March 1, though, she’ll be leading 68 field offices and 10 regional offices across the country as the Small Business Administration’s new Associate Administrator of Field Operations.
Verratti is no stranger to the SBA. Before opening the Silver Spring brewery in 2014, she was a Presidential Management Fellow and Policy Advisor for the agency. She’s also worked for political campaigns, non-profits, and as a Senate staffer.
Verratti says the Biden transition team reached out to her after the election and encouraged her to apply for the job. “I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’ I didn’t know how far it was going to go,” she says. “I’m just incredibly honored to be able to serve the country.”
Over the past seven years, Verratti been very involved in local politics, too. During the last several months in particular, she’s lobbied for government relief and been outspoken about the struggles of craft breweries.
“Obviously you’re operating at a restricted level to things like dealing with supply chain disruption. You can’t even buy aluminum cans from the United States anymore,” she says. “It’s been stressful. It’s been scary. Having that perspective and experience is so important in government.”
Verratti will be stepping away from day-to-day operations at the brewery, which also has a location in Riverdale Park. (Her partners Emily Bruno and Jeff Ramirez will keep the show running.) She’s not sure yet if she’ll have to divest.
“I’ve obviously been in contact with the White House liaison and the SBA ethics team to figure out all that stuff. I’ll do whatever is asked of me,” she says. “I don’t know the answer, to be honest with you.”
Veratti is the second person involved in the DC area’s food and drink scene to join the administration. Call Your Mother investor Jeff Zients is leading the White House’s pandemic response.