Chamber elects new Chair, Officers

The Queens Chamber of Commerce recently announced the results of its annual organizational meeting and board election on April 12.

Howard Graf, Chairperson 

Howard Graf is a registered architect and partner of the firm, Graf & Lewent Architects, LLP. He was recently elected to serve as chairman of the Queens Chamber of Commerce executive committee, during the annual organizational meeting on April 12. 

Graf has been a member of the Queens Chamber since his firm began in 1989. For the last 32 years, they have specialized in the design and renovation of existing buildings for the airline industry, corporate clients, and institutions for higher education learning. 

He said that as a small business owner with approximately 14 employees, he may not necessarily find himself in need of a marketing expert, but is always willing to listen and learn from different professionals in their industry. 

“I pay attention because when they say something, even though they’re in an entirely different business, I find lots of helpful little hints” Graf explained. “Listening and asking questions of other experts is one of the best benefits you get.”

Graf said that the Chamber of Commerce does a terrific job of helping the community and is honored the board elected him as the new chairman. “I hope to live up to the same high standards as previous board presidents.” 

Vice Chair Richard Dzwlewicz 

Dzwlewicz has served as the regional vice president for TD Bank in Queens since 2009, and the Bronx, since 2016, with direct responsibility for commercial and small business lending.

Prior to being named vice chair, Dzwlewicz served as the executive committee’s associate secretary

His career in banking began in 1987, covering both Commercial Real Estate and Commercial Banking. Richard is a board member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Executive and Finance Committees. He is a board member of the Long Island City Partnership (LICP). Richard is also a board member of Helen Keller Services and serves on the Executive and Investment Committees as well as Chair of the Helen Keller National Center. He also serves on the board of the York College Foundation, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, and Boy Scouts of America, Theodore Roosevelt Council.

Richard is a graduate of St. John’s University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the College of Business Administration. Richard resides in Port Washington, NY with his wife and three sons.

Associate Secretary Michelle Stoddart

Stoddart is the vice president of community development for Resorts World Casino. Under her leadership, Resorts world has supported over 200 nonprofit organizations in the metropolitan area.

“I am honored to be named Assistant Secretary on the Executive Board of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Resorts World NYC has been a member of The Chamber for 10 years and we have made great strides in building economic opportunities for the great borough of Queens,” Stoddart said. “As we work to contribute to the economic recovery from COVID, the Chamber has been instrumental in our efforts to inform small businesses of our Community Partners Program, which markets business promotions to our guests, and we take special delight in joining the group at the annual Queens Day event in Albany. The hard work that the Queens Chamber of Commerce does for our community is more important than ever as the borough enters a new era of growth and development to build a stronger Queens for generations to come. Congratulation to the new executive team and I look forward to serving.”

Immediate Past Chair Tom Santucci

Santucci traded in his cushy office for a cubicle more than 25 years ago, when he became a financial advisor with Smith Barney, today known as Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. That job ultimately led him to become the vice president of investments with UBS Financial Services, where he specialized in wealth management and retirement planning.

Santucci later founded Gateway Investments, a company where he truly enjoys what he does for a living. His company handles investments for individuals to large-scald 401(k) accounts with 10,000 employees.

Santucci and his company works with each client to map out individualized retirement planning advice. Gateway Investments explores each client’s goals and then structures an investment plan to help achieve them.

The South Ozone Park native has served on the board of the Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Jamaica, vice-chairman of the board at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, and was president of the Boys and Girls Club in Richmond Hill, where he still serves on the board.

Enjoying his retirement, previous Chairperson Tom Santucci was presented with a rocking chair, a commemorative memento for all his hard work and dedication to the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Congrats Tom!

In addition to the changes to the executive committee, the Chamber also welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors.

New Board Members: 

Meredith Marshall 

Marshall is responsible for executing BRP’s investment strategy including deal origination, acquisition, finance, and development. He has also led the firm’s strategic partnership initiatives including acting as the liaison to all New York City Housing and Real Property-related agencies.

Prior to co-founding BRP, Marshall was a managing director at Musa Capital Advisors, an emerging markets private equity and financial advisory firm based in New York City. At Musa Capital, Marshall was instrumental in executing cross-border transactions including the $37 million development of a mixed-use office complex and mall in Harare, Zimbabwe. Marshall also led successful investments in the telecommunications and financial services sectors.

Prior to Musa Capital Advisors, Marshall was a Senior Associate at Wasserstein Perella & Co., an investment banking firm based in New York City. While at Wasserstein, Marshall was an integral member of the firm’s Telecommunications and Media, Mergers, and Acquisitions practice, where he assisted in transactions exceeding $15 billion.

Lorraine Chambers-Lewis

Queens native Lorraine Chambers Lewis has served as the executive director at LIJ Forest Hills since 2021.

Lorraine told us at TIQ that the great strength of the Queens Chamber is how proactive they actually are in helping small businesses. They just don’t talk about it, they really do help financially and more.

“The Queens Chamber does a great job of bringing businesses together,” she said. “I am excited to be part of this leadership team that’s not only dynamic, but talented. I know we can continue to be an integral feature of the Queens business community. Healthcare is a big part of the business environment in Queens and Northwell LIC – Forest Hills is in the perfect position to lead the discussion on health care.”

Chambers Lewis brings with her decades of experience in a variety of roles, several of which saw her serving on the front lines of the healthcare industry, and has worked in emergency medicine, critical care, internal medicine and occupational health.

David Daraio 

Daraio began his career with Maspeth Federal Savings in 1994 and has worked in every position from bank teller all the way up to the chief operating officer. 

“Being a member has been so rewarding for us as a business,” Daraio said. “We have one of the strongest chambers I’ve encountered. They’ve helped us in so many ways, from helping us set up events to providing insight and experience.” 

With an impressive record of achievements, Daraio was promoted to Marketing Director in 2008, where he was responsible for the coordination of all marketing, social media, and networking activities for the Bank. This experience and professional networking earned him a seat on the American Bankers Association’s Marketing Conference Advisory Board. 

An active member of the community, Daraio has served as the president of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce for more than eight years and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America, Queens Council. He has also received the alumnus of the year award in 2010, the Class Act Community Service Award in 2014, and the Achiever’s Award from Martin Luther High School in 2017.

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