The Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce welcomed its new Executive Director Lori Donofrio-Galley during its Town Hall member breakfast meeting on May 15, held at East Penn Manufacturing, Lyons.

“When we were interviewing her we were very excited about where this Chamber is going,” said Chamber Board President Gretchen Strouphar. “It took us a couple of months to find the right candidate. We took our time and I think we found exactly what we were looking for. I hope that you all feel the same way when you speak to her.”

The chamber breakfast was held on Donofrio-Galley’s third day in the position.

“I am already realizing from my many connections that you have a wonderful reputation as an organization. In my few interactions with board members the last few days I can tell that board members are very invested,” said Donofrio-Galley to chamber members. “I’m thrilled to join the organization and be part of building a very vital community.”

Donofrio-Galley joins the chamber with 17 years experience with non-profit leadership. She worked for three non-profit organizations as both executive director and a development director, including Winters Heritage House Museum, Elizabethtown; Berks Women in Crisis; and Aaron’s Acres, Lancaster. She hopes to bring to the chamber her skills in marketing, public relations, fundraising and volunteer management.

“I hope to contribute to the organization and help you grow your membership and especially visibility,” said Donofrio-Galley.

Responding to Past Chamber Board President Brian Noecker’s question about what she would like to accomplish, she said, “I’m a person who does a lot of evaluation so I’m making those assessments right now. One of the starting points will be growing the membership as well as looking for value added opportunities for the business members.”

When asked what attracted her to the chamber, Donofrio-Galley said she was probably the first person to apply for the job. As soon as it was posted she believes she applied within the first hour. “When I read the description I must tell you that it immediately appealed to me.”

A Berks County native who lives in Spring Township, she visited Kutztown about two years ago to shop with her daughter on a Saturday.

“I was very impressed to see how vital the downtown business district was. There was a lot of activity. There are some towns that struggle and here was a typical college town with the book store, the health store, the clothing stores and we walked around and we saw people on the street. We saw families. We saw students and I was very impressed by that,” she said.

When Donofrio-Galley saw the position posted, not only did she think she could bring her experience to the chamber, she saw that it was already a very vital business community.

The opportunity to work in a small town community also attracted her to the chamber.

“I like working in a small town environment,” Donofrio-Galley told The Patriot. “I hope to bring a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the community that is served and find resources, whether it be people or financial, to enhance the mission of the chamber.”

Donofrio-Galley sees the role of the chamber as an anchor to the community. “It’s an opportunity to bring all of the businesses in the service area together and to be an advocate for those business members.” She is also very interested in establishing community partnerships, noting that as one of her strengths. She wants to meet with the Kutztown Community Partnership and Kutztown University’s President, as well as the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce.

“Creating connections is truly a passion of mine. I feel attracting new businesses to the chamber, connecting those businesses to the community is a really important mission.”

Describing herself as an energetic and resourceful go-getter and leader who is sensitive to other people’s needs, Donofrio-Galley likes to lead projects and have the satisfaction of seeing them come to fruition. Her life philosophy is “we’re really here to help each other.”

“I think everyone in the chamber is so excited that you are here,” said Kutztown Superintendent Kathy Metrick. “All of us welcome you. We are available to you, whatever we can do to help, let us know and we’ll stand behind you.”

Debbie Berger, member, thanked the search committee “for being diligent” in its search for a new executive director. The search committee included Strouphar, Russell Farbiarz, Clare Kilpatrick Benz, Kathy Metrick, John Scott, Penny Oulds and Michelle Schilling, assistant executive director.

Strouphar said in a chamber release that the committee reviewed nearly 50 resumes, narrowing the four-month search to the top five candidates. “Lori stood out and brought high energy with her to the interview, clearly making a good impression with the interview panel. Her accomplishments speak volumes. We believe that we have found the right skill-set match to take our chamber to the next level.”

“It’s been a great journey,” Strouphar said to chamber members to close the breakfast meeting. “We’re just thrilled. I feel like today is the first day of our new chapter in our chamber’s life. Welcome, Lori. I’m so happy that she’s here. We’re all happy that she’s here. I know that we’re going to see really great things coming out of this chamber, and not just because of Lori but because of all of you. The support that has been given over the time that we were in our search has been fantastic. It’s not all been easy; it’s not all been fun but we made it and we’re here and today is day one and let’s go.”

Member had an opportunity to meet with Donofrio-Galley at the end of the meeting.

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