I joined the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce as Executive Director in July, 2006. Before starting with the Chamber, I had a career as a successful development professional and community organizer with the United Way of MA Bay, and YMCA of Greater Worcester and Cambridge.
As a wash-a-shore, I had the pleasure of learning both about the island of Martha's Vineyard, and this unique Chamber of Commerce while on the job. Supporting the economic health of our community means building tourism, our one industry. Many people know Martha's Vineyard as a popular summer destination. When I arrived I heard loud and clear from the business community that while the summer season was robust, they needed me to expand tourism to the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn in order for them to make a living for the entire year.
Despite the notoriety of a small number of summer residents, the 16,000 people who live year-round on the Vineyard work 2-3 jobs to support their families. As a rare destination devoid of chain stores, malls, chain hotels and fast food restaurants, it became apparent to me that we needed to exploit our unique assets to appeal to a broader section of people.
Since that time, I have focused on supporting projects and programs that promote Martha's Vineyard as a perfect three-season destination. In 2011 it was revealed that the Island's creative economy made up more than 10.2% of our overall economy. I imagined what would happen if a coordinated, deliberate effort of promotion were developed. I gathered with like-minded people and Arts Martha's Vineyard came into existence.