Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Rania Zayyat - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 People to Watch: Rania Zayyat

For the past 16 years, Rania Zayyat has built her career within the hospitality industry, but the last decade has been specifically dedicated to wine. Early in her wine career, she noticed she felt out of place within the industry. “As a sommelier, particularly through the organization I was studying with at the time [Court of Master Sommeliers], I felt the structure of the organization mostly supported white men, and the path to success was always that much harder for women and people of color,” she says.

In response, Zayyat launched Wonder Women of Wine (WWOW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for gender equality in the wine industry, to give women a space to feel empowered, acknowledged, respected, and appreciated. (In early 2021, the organization rebranded as the Lift Collective.) “This safe space has been lacking in the industry for a long time, and I’ve learned that you have to go out and create the changes you want to see,” Zayyat says.

WWOW held its first conference in 2019, and although it had to cancel the 2020 conference due to the pandemic, Zayyat says she and her team got creative with digital content and programming in order to champion women in the wine industry while also supporting the many intersectional identities of being a woman. “We’ve learned that diversity and inclusion is a very broad category, and the passion we have for empowering women is something we want to advocate for anyone who’s ever felt marginalized in our industry,” she says. “There’s a lot more work to be done.”

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