The Northeast Berks Chamber hosted a Farewell Reception at kTown Hall in Kutztown on April 29 for Lori Donofrio-Galley after six years as the executive director.
John Scott, Board President in 2019 and 2020, along with current president Barbara Coffin, presented flowers and a plaque for her commitment to the Chamber on behalf of the members, Board and officers.
With “We Will Rock You” playing, Scott said, “Lori, every time we came up with an obstacle, you rocked the obstacle. You tackled it; you put it on paper; you got all of the stakeholders together. You told them what we needed and we executed,” he said. “We took a part-time chamber to a full-time chamber and that was not a little bit of work. There were a lot of systems, a lot of procedures. You see the Facebook; you see the public image, the numerous articles in the different publications, but what you don’t see is the day-to-day hard work, pencil to paper, the bureaucratic but personable and friendly person in the background.”
“Thank you for being so wonderful to work with,” said Scott, wishing her the best of luck in her new entrepreneurship endeavor. “We’re excited for you.”
Her last day as director was April 29. On April 30, she launched her public relations business, The Right Angle Strategic Storytelling in Wyomissing.
Sandra Wise, who retired as Friend Inc.’s director on April 29, will serve as interim director while the Board interviews for a replacement by fall.
“Lori is going to be a loss,” said Board President Barbara Coffin. “The Chamber has obviously had a lot of good directors because we’re still in business after all of this time but Lori has done a great job of moving the Chamber to the next level. It’s never easy to say goodbye to somebody but she’s got some exciting adventures ahead with forming her own business.”
“I am obviously very honored that the Chamber would throw a reception for me,” Donofrio-Galley said. “I love these people; they are more than just business members. Most of them are friends and I talk to these people almost every single day so I am very honored that they would recognize me in this way. It’s been a wonderful six years and I know that, as I’ve said before, many of these relationships will continue on as friendships or professional relationships.”
She knew the Chamber director position was the perfect job for her when she saw the advertisement in 2015.
“It’s been the greatest job ever and mostly because of all of you,” she said.
She also loved getting to know a new region. While a Berks County native from Wyomissing, Northern Berks was unfamiliar.
“I think what I loved about the job was it was something I knew I had experience doing and it was like coming into a whole new world and I was excited about that… I thought every cornfield was exciting… I have loved it. I always say the nicest people live in Northeast Berks County.”
Highlights of her time at the Chamber included producing and directing a short documentary for the chamber’s 30th anniversary with two Kutztown University students; partnering with KU Radio to produce more than 80 business interviews on podcast; participating in PCN’s Pennsylvania Boroughs: Kutztown; and hosting a live show in 2019 on BCTV on the history of the chamber with John Scott and Robert Hobaugh, Jr., Esq.
Heightening the Chamber’s visibility to attract new members and new partnerships was her No. 1 priority. Because she had held nonprofit executive positions for 17 years before arriving at the Chamber, she quickly leveraged connections in media, education, and business to achieve her goal.
“The whole experience has been wonderful.”
During the Shutdown of 2020, Donofrio-Galley mentally reviewed her entire career and revisited the idea of entrepreneurship.
“In past years, my steady career had been punctuated by freelance writing and editing, news reporting, adjunct teaching, and some consulting work. The draw for me to start my own public relations business was strong,” she said. “In fact, my every experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and a 12-week professional coaching experience allowed me to tap decisively into my desire, energy, and creativity to realize my passion.”
The Right Angle Strategic Storytelling LLC will be a business’s partner in uncovering their compelling story that resonates with their target audience to communicate their value. “Leveraging the powerful tool of storytelling will build connections that lead to opportunities, influence a following, and distinguish you from your competitors.”
Making a business or nonprofit organization visible through strategic storytelling that elevates brand identity and reveals the human identity behind the brand to attract and engage clientele or supporters is the mission of The Right Angle. For more information, contact her at https://rightangle.us.com/.
Scott opened up the toasts by Chamber members with a poem he wrote for the occasion… “Lori DG, you can count on her… Lori DG continue to serve.”
Raising his glass to her continued success, he said, “May you persevere. We were happy to have you for all this time.”
Continuing the toasts, Ellen Overcast, owner of Main Street Getaways Dream Vacations, Kutztown, said, “I can’t thank you enough for all of your support over these years. I don’t think anybody is going to be able to take your place. I hope we will remain friends and we’ll still see each other.”
“It’s been a real pleasure working with Lori because she has brought the energy,” Robert Hobaugh said. “She has brought the excitement. She has been real interested in the things that are good for the Chamber and she has been great to work with.”
Also commenting on her energy, Alan Robezzoli, president of Power Marketing International in Wyomissing, said, “I’m really impressed. She just follows up immediately and makes things happen right now... I’m really grateful for that. I know that energy will take you a long way.”
Thanking Donofrio-Galley, Adrean Turner of Turner Coaching Training and Consulting LLC in Reading said, “When I came into the business community, you welcomed me with open arms. You created opportunities for me and I really appreciate you and am happy to celebrate this day with you.”
kTown Hall owner Anne Timpe said Donofrio-Galley was one of the first people they met with when opening kTown Hall, a co-working space. “She was a huge encouragement. She helped me connect with other businesses… she’s just been a real big cheerleader.”
Sherry Christman, owner of Elite Business Solutions in Hamburg, said, “It was such an honor to work with Lori and the Chamber and sit alongside her as she grew our Chamber membership and got our Chamber noticed with social media and news outlets. It’s been a huge advantage for me and my company. I definitely see success in her future.”
“She has been the most amazing executive director that we could ask for,” said Clare Kilpatrick Benz, career education specialist at Hamburg Area School District. “She will be greatly missed but she’s leaving the groundwork for future opportunities and we just wish her the best of luck in her new adventure of her own public relations firm.”
In a toast, she said, “Lori has been an amazing, amazing person to get to know. I’m so grateful for her… Thank you for everything that you have done for us and we’re so excited for you.”
The event concluded with Chamber members conducting an impromptu ribbon cutting in honor of Donofrio-Galley launching her own business.