Menu, Dodds To Lead Sag Harbor Chamber Of Commerce

New Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce officers Gavin Menu, Ellen Dioguardi, Marilyn Holstein and Kelly Dodds at the windmill on Long Wharf. Michael Heller photo

The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce will have new leaders for the coming year. On Monday, Gavin Menu, the co-publisher of the Express News Group, which publishes the Sag Harbor Express, as well as the Southampton and East Hampton Press newspapers, was elected president, while Kelly Dodds, the director of the Sag Harbor American Music Festival, was picked to become vice president.

They will replace the current president, Lisa Field, an owner of the Sag Harbor Variety Store, and the vice president, David Brogna, an owner of the In Home housewares store, who have led the business organization for the past six years and announced earlier this year that they were stepping down from their leadership roles.

Ms. Field said while she has enjoyed serving as president and was proud of what she and Mr. Brogna had accomplished, that it was simply time for someone else to step up.

“I’m confident that Gavin has what it takes to lead us through this next year when things are still uncertain,” she said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic that upended just about every facet of life in the local business community. She added that Mr. Menu and Ms. Dodds worked well together when Ms. Dodds was president and he was recording secretary, which she said was another plus.

“I think they will do a very good job,” added Mr. Brogna. “We think we are leaving it in good hands, and that’s what’s important to us.”

“In the coming year, a new group of chamber leadership will attempt to fill the big shoes left by Lisa and David, who are moving on to focus on their own Main Street businesses,” said Mr. Menu. “We wish them the best and know they will be there to support us in the years to come.”

The chamber will also see new faces on the executive board, where Laura Grenning, the owner of the Grenning Gallery, will replace Tara Fordham, the manager of BNB Bank’s Sag Harbor branch, and Ellen Dioguardi, the Express News Group’s director of events, will serve as recording secretary, replacing Jonathan Fogerty of Peoples United Bank. Marilyn Holstein, who produces Discovery Maps on the North and South forks, returns as corresponding secretary.
This past year, when the pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors and the chamber to cancel events ranging from the annual craft fair to Harborfest, has been more than challenging.

“It’s been a tough year all around, and every business has been affected by the health crisis in some way or another,” Mr. Menu said. “It’s also brought along some opportunity with a growing year-round community.” He added that it would be important for the chamber to engage the new shops, restaurants, and other businesses that have opened in the village recently.

While it is still too soon to talk about restoring chamber-sponsored events that were canceled this year, Mr. Menu said, “We’re hoping and planning for the best, and we will be as nimble as possible so that we can bring back events when the timing is right. In the meantime, we will encourage greater communication and we plan to develop some virtual events that will keep us all connected until in-person events and networking can resume.”

The chamber has also elected four new directors: Bill Evans of WLNG radio; Nat Egosi of the Sag Harbor Inn; Ms. Fordham of BNB Bank, and Patricia Assui Reed of Matriark.

Four other directors return: Carrie Waible O’Brien of Sunswell; Dede O’Connell of the Wharf Shop; John Leonard, a Sag Harbor attorney, and Jesse Matsuoka, of Sen and K Pasa restaurants. And Barbara Schmitz of Sag Harbor Liquors is director emeritus.