Kathie Durbin was confirmed earlier this month as the new director of Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS). County Executive Marc Elrich’s nominee was confirmed by the County Council, making Durbin the first woman to lead the department and one of the few women to lead a similar department in the country.
Durbin joined Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services (formerly the Department of Liquor Control) in 2002 as a Community Outreach Manager. In 2007, she accepted the position of Division Chief of Licensure, Regulation and Education supervising alcohol licensing, policy, education and compliance. Durbin has spent more than a decade working as an advocate for legislative initiatives that support the county’s hospitality businesses.
Durbin has served as the acting director of ABS for the past four months. In addition to its regulatory role, ABS is the wholesaler of beer, wine and spirits in the county and operates 26 retail stores. Generating more than $35 million in net income annually, the bulk of ABS profits go into the county’s general fund, with the remainder used to pay down county debt.
“I am delighted to welcome Kathie as the new ABS director,” says County Executive Elrich. “Kathie’s passion for ABS’ mission, community partnerships and economic growth will help our county advance and rebuild when we need it most.”
Prior to her work in local government, Durbin — who is a lifelong county resident — served as the executive director of the Montgomery County Restaurant Association, where she worked closely with the business community, local agencies and the executive board to craft meaningful alcohol legislation to benefit small businesses.
Durbin currently is the president of the Maryland Alcohol Licensing Association and a member of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association Regulatory Committee. She is a longtime board member of the Responsible Hospitality Institute and the Responsible Retailing Forum, national organizations that work to support nightlife. In 2016, Durbin was recognized by the National Alcohol Licensing Professional Association for Innovation and Leadership and again in 2017 by the Center for Alcohol Policy as Regulator of the Year.