BY BENJAMIN FANG
The Queens Chamber of Commerce swore in its executive board for the 2019-2020 year on April 25 at Douglaston Manor.
Thomas Santucci will continue in his role as chairperson, while Nash Roe, Fran Biderman-Gross, Patrick Yu and Richard Dzlewicz will continue their service on the board.
The sole addition to the executive board is Susan Browning, executive director of Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Forest Hills. Browning also serves on the Board of Directors and co-chairs the chamber’s Health and Wellness Committee.
Departing the executive board is Howard Graf, a partner of the Jamaica-based firm Graf & Lewent Architects. Graf has been involved with the Queens Chamber for three decades.
“It’s up to the individual to really figure out how best to work with the chamber, how to contribute,” he said. “I find that the more you contribute, the more you get out of it.”
Graf said he feels his involvement with the chamber has allowed him to not only grow as a person, but it’s helped his business in “subtle ways.”
He will still serve on the board of directors.
“I’m looking forward to continuing in a different, smaller role with the chamber,” Graf said.
Thomas Grech, president and CEO with the Queens Chamber, said the organization hosted 320 events in 2018.
Its influence has extended to nearly every major development project in Queens, including the LaGuardia AirTrain, Sunnyside Yard, Willets Point redevelopment, JFK Airport redevelopment and the Western Queens Tech Council.
In a speech before the Board of Directors, who were also sworn in that day, Santucci said 320 events in one year is “staggering.”
“I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” he said. “They’re real programs to educate people and promote business.”
Santucci said there are two goals he hopes to accomplish at the helm of the Queens Chamber. One is for the organization to serve as a career vessel, especially for young people.
Another is for the chamber to have its own building, where they can host programs, meetings and other events.
“These things are doable, Queens County deserves it,” he said. “I hope this year will be even better than past years.”