For Peter Ingellis — New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce’s director of membership and development — the news of his promotion came in a blink. Last week, the Chamber’s board of directors appointed him the interim president until a replacement for the outgoing president Michael Smith is found.
Smith has been the Chamber president for about two years and he succeeded Joyce Minard — a long-time leader of the local business group.
“It is kind of sudden,” Ingellis said. “Mike decided to move on and is currently pursuing other opportunities. In conjunction with a meeting that he had with the board chair, he decided to depart immediately.”
New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce covers a wide territory and represents businesses in Highland, Rosendale and even Milton.
Ingellis is stepping onto the helm at a time when the Chamber is in the middle of a number of new projects. For instance, the New Paltz Regional Gift Card is a form of local currency created by the Chamber to get people to support local shops. They’re also working on a smartphone application and a map to better direct people to hometown shops.
Ingellis said he doesn’t know who the board will ultimately pick as the new president, but he’s open to accepting the job if it is offered to him.
“I want to reinvigorate the membership and expand our footprint. We are a regional chamber of commerce,” he said. “We want to strengthen the ties we have in the community [in New Paltz]. But we also want to be a regional player — to serve those communities that aren’t covered by other chambers of commerce.”
Ingellis has served as director of membership and development since March of this year and will continue with those responsibilities, in addition to his new executive role. Helen Gutfreund, the director of marketing and communications, will assist Ingellis with his additional duties, specifically as they regard member retention and event committee leadership.
Ingellis owned a commercial cleaning business, which is why he became a Chamber of Commerce member back in 2008 — before he moved into his membership director’s role.
It’s unclear how long the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce board will take to decide on a replacement, but that search process is underway.
In the meantime, Ingellis said he’d like to make sure that they advocate for the tourism industry locally and continue their educational outreach.
“I think you’d agree that New Paltz is an excellent venue for creative thinking. We want to mesh with that and still keep businesses in mind,” he said. “We want to get the word out about them. I can’t stress enough how successful we want the local businesses to be.”
Smith, the outgoing president, had a background as a board member on the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. He was a graduate of Marist College’s business school and he owns an insurance business.