Here we go, a brand new year – welcome to 2020! I’ll begin by saying how excited I am and very much looking forward to working with Tony Sapienza, of the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn, our 2020 Board President, and the entire Board of Directors. Rounding out our Executive Committee are Bruce Feldman who moves to Chairman; Susan Gould-Coviello, who becomes our 1st Vice President; Mike Luster, who remains as our trusted Treasurer; Matt Anzivino, a proven leader who rejoins our Executive Committee; and Caitlin Pszenny, who we welcome as our 2nd Vice President, lining-up for Presidency in our Centennial birth year, 2022. Please see our full 2020 Board Slate, HERE.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to Bruce Feldman for his service as our 2019 President. Bruce spent hundreds of hours last year leading the Board, attending ALL of our events, and working directly with me and our Chamber team. Bruce was a main reason for our record-breaking 2019 and is very much still a part of our leadership team.
Tony brings a broad base of Chamber involvement to his role as our president. In addition to serving as a member of the Executive Committee, he heads up our Tourism Council, which brings together visitor-based business and organizations from across Cape Ann to promote the region as a year-round destination – check out the Cape Ann Life section of our website to see more on this. Over the past year, Tony has headed up a Chamber Communications Initiative, along with Board Member Christine Armstrong, aimed at raising the Chamber’s visibility. You will see more on this in the month’s ahead, but a first example of this work is our refreshed website (big thanks to our Marketing & Communications Director, Michelle Budrow, who was instrumental in moving this forward – more on her work later). One way we’re getting the word out on the Chamber is our monthly I Love Cape Ann Podcasts – click here to see the latest, and watch future updates.
An outgrowth of the Communications Initiative is a refresh of our Chamber Imperatives – the priorities that guide our work, building on our Vision and Mission. These imperatives are:
Strengthen Our Businesses
Help businesses thrive by fostering connections, providing training and education, and offering programs that benefit businesses
Support Our Community
Address the economic, educational, and cultural needs of Cape Ann by providing support for key community priorities
Promote Our Members and the Region
Raise the visibility of Cape Ann and our member businesses among residents and visitors
These Imperatives are more than just how we describe the Chamber – together with our Mission and Vision, they will help guide our member programs, our community initiatives, and our plans for the organization going forward.
An effort that is a reflection of these Imperatives is the Cape Ann License Plate. We see more on the road every day, and the success of the plate helps our visibility and supports community programs. The Cape Ann Community Foundation manages the license plate proceeds, which, over the past three years has provided $39,000 in grants to many area non-profits and a school project. We are looking forward to seeing many more of our Cape’s plates on the road, and to awarding additional grants this year.
The recent impact of the Chamber’s Programs and Services and high level of re-engagement with the Cape Ann community is a credit to our small but incredibly talented and dedicated Chamber team. Here is a quick update:
Michelle Budrow, who as mentioned earlier leads marketing & communications for the Chamber, is a downtown Glosta gal. Michelle manages all four (that’s right, four!) of our websites and twice that number of social media accounts, as well as our weekly At-A-Glance Newsletters, events promotions, weekly eblasts, and more than 200 photos and ads as part of our three major publications. She is our event photographer, and much more. Michelle gets it done!
Karen Carone, Office Administrator, another Gloustarian. Karen is fully indoctrinated, having made it through the first year gauntlet. Karen manages our often-frenzied office, with many people in our lobby and multiple phone lines ringing – and she finds time to support the team as needed.
Charlene Delaney, Visitor Services and Cape Ann License Plate Support, also hails from Gloucester.Charlene has been with us for nearly three years, helping with our front desk operations, assisting visitors, and promoting the Cape Ann License Plate. Charlene is terrific with visitors and her love for and knowledge of the region make her an invaluable part of the team.
Kerry McKenna, Events Director and “Squamer”, celebrates her sixth year anniversary with us this year. Kerry continues to out-do herself in growing our events. By far, our Chamber does more events than any business organization on the North Shore – and perhaps the Commonwealth. Kerry leads our over 50 (yes 50!) events including networking, seminars, Businesswomen, Ribbon Cuttings, Holidays, and our twelve major / signature events, the BIG ones include: Waterfront Festival, Block Parties (3), Festival by the Sea, Clamfest. Our events — perhaps the best-known aspect of our work — are stronger than ever, with record community attendance and value back to our businesses. Kerry is also a Trustee and the Treasurer for Awesome Gloucester, and is fond of swimming in Ipswich Bay — year-round, sans wet suit!
Ken Riehl, CEO. I reside adjacent to the Great Marsh in our smallest Cape Ann community, Essex. I am entering into year seven with this amazing organization, and could not be more honored and pleased to work with you all towards the continuous betterment of this amazing region as an incredible place to work, live and play. I also sit on the Boards of the Cape Ann Community Foundation and Cape Ann Plein Air, am a member of the Gloucester Tourism Commission, and a Rotarian. In my free time “Capt. Ken” (yes, he is USCG licensed) is happiest seeking the elusive striped bass and poking around Cape Ann’s beautiful waters.
Olivia Perez-O’Dess, Membership Services Director, is a Gloucesterite and our newbie. Her responsibility is to look after YOU, our members, to ensure that your business is best represented by the Chamber and to be available to meet with you in-person to answer any questions or comments that you may have. Olivia is already fully engaged, reaching out to all members regularly, over email with updates like “Did You Know?”, by phone and in person. If you have not met Olivia, please call her right now and say hello — let her know if there is anything that we can do to support your business.
Debbie Walter, Finance Lead, is a Rockporter. The greatest testament to Debbie’s work is that I don’t have to think about the finances — she just gets them done. This allows me to spend my time focusing on you, our members, in the execution of our mission. Debbie also leads the finances for the Cape Ann Community Foundation, managing the Cape Ann License Plate. A little known fact about Debbie is that she also has a thriving pet sitting business, and plays a mean clarinet as part of the Rockport Legion Band.
Peter Webber, Sr. VP, also hails from Rockport, and he is celebrating his 15th (that’s right 15th!) year with the Chamber this year. He remains our senior statesman, Rockport lead, and Government Affairs liaison, and he sits on the Board of Discover Gloucester, is a Trustee For the Essex National Heritage Area, and is a Rotarian. If that’s not enough, Peter is the rock in our often frenzied office environment, and his knowledge and love of the region, the business community and our residents make his services invaluable.
As Tony mentioned at our Annual Celerbation on January 25, the Chamber is doing incredible work, but the best is yet to come. We’ve already seen signs of this with a history-making ribbon-cutting at 1623 Studios and the launch of our website – and in a few months, we’ll mark the opening of our new offices. Tony and I, and the entire Board and Chamber Team look forward to working with you, as we roll up our sleeves to make 2020 a landmark year for our businesses, our community, and the region as a whole.