Unveiling the Power of AI in Enhancing Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas’ Excellence

As a board member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas (CMS-A), I had the privilege of addressing my fellow board members during our board meeting on January 23, 2024.

The discussion wasn’t solely focused on the potential of AI; it emphasized our commitment to harnessing technology to redefine excellence within CMS-A.

In my presentation, titled “Unlocking CMS-A’s Impact with AI: Small Steps, Big Impact,” I shared the significant strides we’ve made since September 2024, and the incremental steps we are taking to achieve our organizational vision.

Group photo of CMS A Board members
With fellow CMS-A Board members during our January 2024 Board meeting

My Personal Awakening to AI’s Promise:

My journey with leveraging Generative AI began earnestly in January 2023 upon discovering ChatGPT. This experience was a revelation; AI is not merely a tool for innovation, but a means to democratize influence, leveling the playing field for nonprofits, solopreneurs, and traditionally underrepresented groups. Throughout my roles as an educator, speaker, and social entrepreneur, I have witnessed AI break barriers, save time, enhance content creation, and increase accessibility, thereby facilitating deeper engagement with stakeholders.‎

CARE: CMS-A’s Pathway to AI Integration

In my presentation, I introduced a structured framework known as the CARE steps, which outlines our comprehensive strategy for integrating AI within CMS-A. This framework serves as a roadmap to ensure that our use of AI aligns with and supports our organizational goals effectively.

  • C: Case for Leveraging Generative AI to Amplify CMS-A’s Impact: Here we explore the transformative potential of AI in enhancing our operational capabilities and extending our influence within the hospitality industry.
  • A: Accessible Definitions and Case Studies of AI and Generative AI: We demystify AI technologies by providing clear explanations and showcasing real-world applications that demonstrate their impact.
  • R: Realizing the Value of Generative AI with Tools to Amplify CMS-A’s Impact: Discussing the specific tools and technologies we are implementing to harness the full potential of AI in our operations.
  • E: Empowering Your Impact with Generative AI Resources: Highlighting resources and training available to our members to help them leverage AI in their roles and responsibilities.

Below, the image vividly illustrates the first step—making the case for leveraging Generative AI to amplify CMS-A’s impact, showcasing the direct benefits and strategic alignment with our organizational goals.

Presentation Screenshot: Case for Leveraging Generative AI to Amplify CMS-A’s Impact


First Case Study: Strategic Planning with AI

Background: In preparation for the Diversity Committee’s first in-person strategic planning meeting at CMS-A, there was a need to efficiently synthesize diverse inputs to shape the committee’s strategic direction.

Objective: To streamline the strategic planning process, ensuring effective integration of input from various committee members to develop a cohesive strategic plan.

Process: In September 2023, I introduced ChatGPT to assist with this critical task. Partnering with the then-Committee Chair, Vincent Morrow, MS, we utilized ChatGPT to refine the strategic planning presentation deck. During the session, the AI was leveraged to synthesize outputs from the group and breakout sessions, accelerating the formulation of the committee’s plan and key messaging.

Outcome: This AI-driven process enabled us to fast-track the development of the committee’s strategic plan and key messaging, which were successfully presented to the Board of Directors the following day.

Impact: The image below showcases the Committee, output from ChatGPT, and the key messaging developed for the board, illustrating the effectiveness of AI in enhancing our strategic planning capabilities.

Image rapresenting 3 stages of results of Diversity Committee Inaugural In-Person Strategy Session
Presentation Screenshot: Diversity Committee Case Study


Second Case Study: Breaking Language Barriers with the Wordly AI Pilot

Background: To enhance inclusivity and ensure all CMS-A members could fully engage with our educational programs, irrespective of language barriers.

Objective: To pilot a real-time translation technology that would allow non-native English speakers to equally participate and benefit from our educational offerings.

Process: In October 2023, we initiated the Wordly AI pilot at Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration. Fellow board members Douglass Miller and Christopher Bates MS, with whom I share alumni ties, and Douglass, a faculty member, collaborated on this project along with CMS-A Executive Director, Julie Theobald and Education Director, Melissa Monosoff, MS to address language barriers. The pilot aimed to validate the effectiveness of this technology in providing real-time educational translation.

Click the video below to watch the pilot in action at Cornell University.


Watch the video below to see Wordly AI’s real-time translation on students’ screens.

Outcome: The pilot laid the groundwork for subsequent trials and culminated in the successful launch of our first-ever Japan Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam in February 2024.

Photos from CMS-A’s First-ever Japan Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam in February 2024

Impact: This initiative transcends mere technology adoption—it embodies a profound commitment to inclusivity.

By effectively dismantling language barriers and accommodating diverse hearing abilities, we are expanding our global reach.

This ensures that all students, regardless of their native language or auditory capabilities, potentially have equal opportunities to enhance their wine knowledge and advance professionally within the hospitality industry.

Third Case Study: Developing the Strategic Plan Video Script with AI

Background: As part of our efforts to articulate and communicate CMS-A’s strategic objectives, there was a need to create a compelling video that could effectively convey our vision to a broader audience. The challenge was to ensure the script was not only informative but also resonant with our core values and goals.

Objective: To develop a persuasive and engaging video script that aligns with CMS-A’s strategic plan, enhancing clarity and impact through the use of generative AI.

Process: I utilized Anthropic’s Claude AI to assist in this critical task. The process began with a draft text that incorporated key elements from our strategic plan. Using Claude AI, we transformed this initial draft into a polished script tailored for our speakers. The AI’s capabilities were leveraged to refine the language and ensure the content was both compelling and strategically aligned.

Watch the video below to explore the Strategic Plan Video case study in detail.

Outcome: The final video script produced was instrumental in effectively conveying CMS-A’s strategic direction and goals. The development of this script not only demonstrated AI’s capacity to enhance persuasive messaging but also served as a testament to the potential of AI in streamlining content creation processes within our organization. Click to Explore CMS-A’s Strategic Plan Video Playlist

Impact: This AI-enhanced script was used in the CMS-A Strategic Plan video, which has been crucial in increasing awareness about our mission and strategic initiatives. The video has been well-received, indicating the success of integrating AI into our communication strategy.

Reflection: This case study underscores the significant role that AI can play in organizational communication. By using AI, we were able to achieve a high-quality output that resonated deeply with our audience, proving that AI can be a valuable partner in achieving strategic communication goals.

AI: Amplifying CMS-A’s Impact

Beyond the three case studies I spotlighted, I also shared other ways AI has helped us. For instance, I illustrated how Read.AI facilitated easy and accurate post-meeting correspondence during a Zoom call with a prospective partner. ChatGPT was instrumental in developing a core messaging document for the Diversity Committee, ensuring consistency and ease of access for committee members charged with communications. These examples underscore our deep dive into AI, from automating routine tasks to creating persuasive messaging, highlighting our steadfast commitment to innovation, operational excellence, and, most importantly, to our vibrant community.


Our Vision: Strategic, Inclusive Growth

CMS-A’s strategic objectives mirror its aspiration not just to lead but to transform the beverage and hospitality industry. AI is not merely a tool; it’s a partner in our quest to increase awareness, set the gold standard in certification, and foster a dynamic, inclusive professional community.


Exploring AI Further: Resources and Tools

I am particularly enthusiastic about the suite of AI tools we’ve adopted—ChatGPT, Claude AI, and Read.AI for stakeholder engagement; Wordly AI for real-time translation; and more. These tools have proven essential in guiding our strategy and operations towards greater effectiveness.


The Road Ahead

As we delve deeper into the AI landscape, maintaining a balance between leveraging cutting-edge technology and adhering to our core values and mission is paramount. Ethical considerations, data privacy, and continuous team development are our top priorities.


Invitation to Explore Further

Join us on this fascinating journey as CMS-A leverages AI to achieve its strategic goals and redefine the possibilities within the hospitality industry. We are not just adopting new technology; we’re setting a course for a future where CMS-A leads with innovation, inclusivity, and excellence.


Learn More

Discover my insights on AI applications in the hospitality industry through this article: Leveraging AI in Hospitality: Insights from Cornell’s Groundbreaking Guest Lecture by Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi


In this evolving narrative, AI is more than technology—it’s our ally in crafting a more inclusive, efficient, and impactful CMS-A.