Campus News

How a UK alum became the CFO of a game-changing tequila Teremana Tequila

Video Courtesy of Gatton College

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 8, 2024) — With a population of approximately 1,400 people, Clinton, Kentucky, is often described as a close-knit community.

“I started from humble beginnings.”

For those who called it home in the 80s, like Keisha Raspberry and her family, life was simple, and sometimes, tough.

“My grandmother was such an integral part of my life,” she said. “And I remember seeing her as a single mother — how she would balance it all and take on multiple jobs to provide for her family. She instilled a work ethic in me.”

Raspberry hoped work ethic would take her far beyond the rural heart of Kentucky. And as high school graduation neared, she searched for a place to continue her education — an institution that would foster success.

Raspberry was aware of the University of Kentucky and its mission to be the university for Kentucky.

“But being in this little town, I didn’t even know that attending UK was a possibility for me,” she said. “It was one of those universities that I saw with such prestige.”

As Raspberry’s brother, Shaun Knox, would tell you, she has never been one to shy away from a challenge. “She is the prime example of what you can do with hard work.”


Feelings of anticipation and apprehension were intertwined in the summer of 1998 when Raspberry made a life-changing decision — to become a Wildcat.

“I was very determined to take every opportunity that UK gave me,” she said. “I wanted to build a foundation.”

Throughout her time as a student in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Raspberry held onto that persistence and perseverance — trusting her education would one day allow her to achieve her bold aspirations.

“Gatton College really showed me what the possibilities were in the world of business,” she continued. “If you talk to my friends from college, they will probably tell you I would often say, ‘I’m going to be a CFO when I grow up.’”

In the spring of 2002, Raspberry proudly crossed the commencement stage with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In the years to follow, she applied her expertise at various companies, while also gaining a wealth of experience in finance and strategy.

Raspberry held expansive roles at MillerCoors, Texas Roadhouse, Lexmark International and Brown-Forman. With her diverse industry experience and strategic mindset, Raspberry continued to climb the corporate ladder.

At Brown-Forman, a global leader in premium spirits, Raspberry was vice president of finance and strategy for the U.S. and Canada. She spearheaded financial operations and led revenue growth management strategies for the company’s largest region.

“Keisha is the type of leader who sacrifices for others,” Ryan Van Arnam, vice president, managing director of U.K. and Ireland at Brown-Forman said. “She is so focused on building up those around her — developing and mentoring the next group of leaders behind her and paving the way for the future.”

When thinking of her own future, Raspberry was ready for a change. “I decided, after 13 years at Brown-Forman, this was such an amazing opportunity — to join a new brand that is very entrepreneurial in spirit.”


In March 2020, Teremana Tequila, founded by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, disrupted the alcohol industry with its record-breaking launch and subsequent growth.

Three years after its debut, in 2023, Teremana became the fastest premium spirits brand to sell 1 million, 9-liter cases within a 12-month period in the U.S.

Raspberry currently serves as the chief financial officer of Teremana Tequila, where she plays a pivotal role in overseeing the financial operations and strategic planning initiatives.

“It’s just been an unbelievable phenomenon in the alcohol industry,” she said. “My role is to lead all financial activity and to think about how we build this brand in a way that is sustainable in the future.”

The premium, small-batch tequila will launch in five new international markets this year, including the United Kingdom (U.K.), Australia, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Colombia — in addition to travel retail locations across the globe.

Recognized as a responsibly crafted tequila of exceptional quality, Teremana has won more than 17 of the leading spirits awards, including gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and gold in The Spirits Business Tequila & Mezcal Masters. 

According to the company, “the spirit of mana is a powerful force that inspires us to foster good energy, bring people together and do the right thing.”

“While it’s an amazing tequila, Teremana is a word that also means something. ‘Tere’ means earth and ‘mana’ means spirit,” Raspberry explained. “It’s exciting to be a part of something that will be a legacy brand.”


Believing in the power of an opportunity means recognizing that even the smallest chance can ignite a spark — transforming dreams into reality.

Raspberry is a firm believer in taking chances and seizing opportunities.

“She’s had so many ‘firsts.’ She was the first woman of color to have the vice-presidential role (in finance) at Brown-Forman,” Knox said. “And she’s the first woman of color CFO at Teremana. Being those ‘firsts,’ gives people the idea — and the hope — that they can also get there one day.”

Now, Raspberry is encouraging and inspiring the younger generation to pursue their passions with perseverance.

“Every step along the way, I also knew I wanted to give back. Because I know that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants who came before me. It’s bigger than me. To those young students, specifically young women, aspire to do whatever it is you want to do and be whoever it is you want to be.”

Raspberry also holds an MBA from Bellarmine University. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Additionally, Raspberry received this year’s Distinguished Young Alumni award from UK’s Gatton College of Business and Economics.

She finds great pride in her role as a wife and mother. Raspberry currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Alexander, and their three sons: Ethan, Joshua and Ayden.

Photo of Keisha Raspberry and her Family
Photo of Dwayne Johnson Signing a Barrel

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.