Weekly Feature

2018-01-10 / Front Page

DiPirro thankful for 36 years of ‘supporters, mentors, friends’

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

DiPirro DiPirro After 36 years as the face of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, Colleen DiPirro will be retiring at the end of the month.

DiPirro’s road to leading the Chamber of Commerce in the largest community outside the City of Buffalo began in 1981. Prior to that, she worked for about a year and a half as a US Air flight attendant and had also earned a completion certificate from the Notre Dame Institute for Organizational Management.

Her opportunity to work for the chamber arose after assisting in the campaigns of former Assemblyman Rick Anderson and past Erie County Executive Ed Rutkowski.

“John Shearer, who was the town clerk — I had gotten to know him through my involvement with politics — and he was on the board of the Amherst Chamber, and they decided they wanted to hire a staff person and they hired me,” DiPirro said.

She added that in the early 1980s the chamber was located in a small room that shared office space with the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, which actually began as a committee of the chamber.

The chamber is currently located at 400 Essjay Road, Suite 150.

In her more than three-decade career at the chamber, DiPirro said there have been many high points. She is especially proud of the chamber’s assistance in aiding the University at Buffalo’s Athletics Department in gaining Division 1 status.

“Getting Division 1 really allowed the university to grow and unified the community,” she said.

Another aspect of the chamber, she said, is the role the organization plays in alerting its members of public policy issues. Each January, the chamber issues its public policy agenda to give its members details on proposed or new state and federal regulations that may affect their businesses.

“We talk about policies that are benefits to the business community and are not exclusive to a political party,” she said. “We are an open-arms organization that takes to heart all the values of people in Western New York.”

Since September, DiPirro has been working alongside her successor, A.J. Baynes, who was formerly the chief of staff to state Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

Baynes said he is looking forward to continuing DiPirro’s tradition of the chamber being of great importance to the community as well as its members.

“Colleen took the chamber to a larger place and always made sure the members had value,” he said.

While she will remain as a consultant for economic development and public policy at the chamber, DiPirro said she will also be available for any assistance the board of directors or Baynes may need in the future.

“We have a strong foundation, and A.J. has so much excitement and energy,” DiPirro said. “I am excited about this opportunity for A.J. He is the right person to take this on.”

DiPirro said her career at the chamber has been highlighted by her foresight to make the organization a viable asset in Western New York.

“I have always been transparent, and I always had a regional vision for this chamber,” she said.

Additionally, DiPirro wanted the community to know that she was thankful for the opportunity to serve and assist the business community in its growth throughout her tenure.

“Nothing I did was done alone,” DiPirro added. “I am thankful for all the people I met and worked with. I have been blessed with 36 years of supporters, mentors and friends.”

The chamber’s annual luncheon will be the final event she leads for the chamber.

The lunch will be held noon Friday, Jan. 26, at Classics V, 2435 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.

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