Last fall, we gathered our teams at our company office in Petaluma. In keeping with the COVID-conscious times, we blocked off our parking lot and set up games and folding tables, happy to come together in any way we could. There were long platters of cheese, ours and those of our maker friends, and a mobile pizza oven cranking out sourdough pizzas.
As the crowd gathered, we started passing around glasses of sparkling wine. It was an occasion to celebrate: our own Debra Dickerson, longtime Cowgirl, had just been honored with the American Cheese Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. We raised our glasses in a toast, and Debra addressed the crowd, speaking of a lifetime dedicated to cheese, to the impact we can have in this special community, and to the pride she has in spending her days sharing the stories of the artisans we represent.
Debra Dickerson is an icon in the American artisan cheese industry, a tireless advocate, infectiously enthusiastic storyteller, and inspiration to all. She has directly contributed to the growth of the American artisan cheese industry over the past several decades—a career worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award, indeed!
Debra first began her work with Cowgirl Creamery decades ago, representing our cheeses along with fellow artisan cheese partners that we are still proud to work with—other icons like Britain’s Neals Yard Dairy and our friends at the Cellars at Jasper Hill and Redwood Hill Farm under the banner of 3D Cheese. She joined the company directly in 2009 and led our Wholesale team for over ten years, shifting her focus several years ago directly to Education. Through the pandemic, you may have found her hosting a virtual cheese tasting alongside other cheesemakers, regaling a crowd of our corporate clients with tales of her time in cheese, or introducing our story to the next generation of Cowpeople at our employee orientations. Some weekends, you may have been lucky enough to meet and work with her at our Pt Reyes store, where she has helped our retail crew by spreading good cheer, hospitality and cheese love.
This week, we bid a fond and grateful farewell to Debra—though, as we say around here, once a Cowgirl, always a Cowgirl. From all of us at Cowgirl and Tomales Bay Foods, it has been an honor to learn from her, work alongside her, and fall back into love with cheese every time we take a bite and hear her tell a story.
Thank you, Debra. We wish you happy trails in your next adventure!