Peter Ingellis, executive director of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, has informed his board of directors that he will be leaving the Chamber on December 12 to take a position in private industry. Ingellis’ announcement came just two months after Helen Gutfreund, former marketing and communications director for the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, left her post to accept a new position of the same title at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.
Ingellis explained that he had planned a longer tenure at the organization when a recruitment phone call came “out of the blue” earlier this fall from a well-established New York-based manufacturing company. “They were seeking to create a new position that would help them to expand their market area and their manufacturing base nationally and globally,” he said. “It was a decision that I agonized over for many weeks. In the final analysis, I realized it was a career opportunity that I could not pass up.”
Ingellis stressed his strong belief in the Chamber model whose stated mission is: “to create a sustainable environment for our membership to compete and thrive while strengthening civic and community interests for New Paltz and the Hudson Valley region.”
Several local Chamber members and downtown business owners expressed appreciation for his service and no small degree of sadness that his vigorous leadership, energy and good humor will no longer be part of the daily life of the community. Mindi Haynes, newly appointed chairperson of the Chamber’s board of directors, said, “We’re all sorry to see him go. We wish him the best.”
Ingellis first came to the New Paltz Chamber in 2008 when the commercial cleaning company he was running at the time became a member. He accepted the position of membership director in March 2013. Following the departure of then-president Michael Smith, Ingellis was appointed in November 2013 as interim president of the organization. In June 2014 he accepted his current position of executive director, which he will continue to hold until his departure next month.
“I am proud to have been able to play a role in strengthening the Chamber’s ties with the New Paltz community in the last several months,” Ingellis said. “We have corrected some misperceptions on the part of local businesses and members of government. We have reacted to improve our relationship with our members and our services on their behalf.”
Referring to what he considers to be his strongest contribution, he commented, “We talked with and understood the concerns of the New Paltz business community and the community at large and have begun to advocate on behalf of common concerns.”
Illustrative of that effort was a meeting last week arranged by the Chamber to focus on parking and traffic in the village and town of New Paltz. Local business owners, SUNY New Paltz president Donald Christian, government officials and residents met in a community-based, non-governmental setting to discuss the issue. “We accomplished something tonight,” said David Santner, following the meeting. “We spoke and communicated and learned more about one another’s points of view. I hope this kind of meeting can continue.”
Members of the community spoke about Ingellis’ leadership in strengthening ties to philanthropic organizations such as Family of New Paltz and the New Paltz Community Foundation. He assisted the Foundation in its largest direct appeal to community members to rehabilitate the Family of New Paltz food pantry, free store and walk-in crisis center in the village and arranged for Family of New Paltz to become full Chamber members at no charge.
Garvan McCloskey, manager of Shea O’Brien’s, commented, “Peter had, in a very short time, managed to raise the profile of the town regionally and nationally. He gave us the confidence that the business community was being represented professionally and competently. He will be sorely missed. I wish him all the best.”
Board chair Haynes said that she is having ongoing meetings with Ingellis to make sure the transition occurs smoothly and the entire board of directors will meet in early December, along with the outgoing executive director, to determine next steps.
Ingellis will continue to live in the area and has offered to help the Chamber in the future in whatever way he can. As he said, “I’ve renewed my membership to the New Paltz Golf Course and people will always know where to find me, come spring.”