Rome Chamber hires pair for leadership roles, lauds longtime staffer
ROME — Rome Area Chamber of Commerce has named its new executive director and CEO, as well as its leader in marketing and communications.
The appointments come following the passing of William K. Guglielmo on Feb. 23 after serving 50 years as the Rome Chamber president. Alexa Drake, information manager for the chamber, announced her retirement around the same time as Guglielmo back in January.
New appointees are: Kristen Skobla, executive director and CEO; Ryan Gros, communications and marketing director. Sue Pardi, business manager/health insurance broker, was also recognized for her years of service to the chamber.
Skobla, who comes from Mohawk Valley Community College where she was the executive director of the Center for Leadership Excellence, has been named executive director and CEO. She will begin her new role on April 10.
Skobla completed her undergraduate work at Siena College, where she majored in marketing and management, and earned her master’s degree in adult learning.
Gros is a Central New York native and graduate from New Hartford High School. He has an associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College in media marketing and management. He has a diverse background, having worked in the beef and boating industries. Recently married, he enjoys running and playing golf with his wife. He started his new position on March 13.
Pardi has been named business manager/health insurance broker for the chamber. April marks her 25th year with the Rome Chamber.
Wesley Cupp, interim president, former chairman and current board member of the Rome Chamber, said he is “extremely excited and optimistic” about the two new hires.
“The future really is bright for our chamber as we enter a new chapter in our 111-year story,” said Cupp. “Ryan is a wonderful gentleman with great skill sets for his position in communications and marketing. He will spruce up and modernize how we market ourselves and our membership.”
“Kristen is a great talent and extremely personable with a certain refinement and sophistication that will bode her well for becoming the new face of the chamber,” Cupp continued. “Additionally, I would like to thank Sue Pardi, our business manager, for being our rock during the past few months of transition. Her expertise, patience, and loyalty have proven to be invaluable.”
Skobla said she looks forward to immersing herself into the position and getting to know everyone who is part of Rome’s business community.
“I am beyond excited — my ultimate goal is to fulfill Bill Guglielmo’s legacy and build on his efforts, as well as the current staff, board and chamber members, and those who came before me, and get the chamber to the next level,” said Skobla. “We want to be a key player in the economic development ecosystem in Rome and the Mohawk Valley. Businesses have always been in the forefront, and I want to see how we can support and advocate for them and showcase the impact and tremendous offerings they have, and the impact they have in the wonderful City of Rome and beyond — in the region.”
As for her goals in her new position, Skobla said, “My first duty will be to embark on a listening tour and have conversations with not only board members who are so amazing, passionate and committed, but also have conversations with chamber members. I want to get a first-hand account on how to serve them — what are their current needs and challenges? I want to explore where we can look at new ways to support businesses and bring that information back to the organization.”
She said, “I want to be sure to work with our key community partners, like the City of Rome and Mayor (Jacqueline M.) Izzo, and see how we can work together to support their efforts. This is a great place for growth and revitalization, and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”
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