About the Ambassador Program
In March of 2014, the Chamber unveiled a team of Ambassadors. These Ambassadors are essentially an extension of the Chamber's team of staff, with a shared goal of providing support to our members on how to make the most of their membership as well as to grow the membership community through recruitment and retention efforts.
meet Our Ambassadors:
Amanda is a recent boomerang to Schuyler County, having moved back to the county in December 2017 after 25 years in Florida. Amanda has deep roots in Schuyler County and is thrilled to be back home. She has over ten years of community redevelopment and development experience and loves to help small business grow and thrive!
“I am so excited to be an ambassador with the Chamber! When I was looking to move back to the area, the Chamber was the go to spot for everything I need to know in order to move. I have worked with several chambers throughout my career and this is by far the friendly and most member-focused chamber in my experience. It is an honor to be an ambassador and to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful business owners.”
Julie is the Executive Director of a local not-for-profit agency, Community Progress, Inc., and has been with the agency for 27 years. Writing grants and administering housing/economic development programs throughout the tri-county area has been her passion.
“Having had the opportunity to write grants and administer them in Watkins Glen and Montour Falls over the years has truly inspired me! I love watching communities grow and partnering with the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and local business owners has been an essential component to rebuilding the local economy.”
Julie resides in Chemung County, but spends much of her free time on Seneca Lake and surrounding areas visiting local breweries, wineries, cheese shops and restaurants. “We are absolutely blessed with a multitude of amazing businesses/business owners in our area!”
Karen was born and raised in Binghamton and moved to the Finger Lakes in September 2017. She has worked in the banking industry for over 30 years. A majority of her career was in the Residential Mortgage Lending division of banking until transferring to this area to pursue the Business Development side.
Karen strives to provide the very best customer service possible, by taking a personal interest in each of her customers and their business needs and looks forward to applying those same skills in her role as an Ambassador. She shares, “My interaction with the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce has been one of the highlights of my new career. In my role as an Ambassador I hope to help guide fellow members in using the services and support the Chamber provides so that they can enjoy the experience of being a member as much as I do.”
Jeff Frey grew up in Western New York and has lived in the area since graduating from Cornell in 1989. He has held several roles at PSP Unlimited (GM, marketing, graphic design) since starting to work for the new company in early 1992, but as the company grew in size and staff, his primary role has been lead salesperson. For over the last two decades, Jeff's primary focus has been product development & delivery of branded merchandise, wholesale for retail with support of in house screen print & embroidery teams, plus art staff. PSP Unlimited currently covers a broad mix of clients all throughout Upstate NY.
Jeff previously served as chair of the auction committee and the board of Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, in addition to heading up their membership drive several years ago. After taking a break to focus on family and PSP Unlimited sales expansion, he saw a great opportunity to join the Watkins Chamber and Ambassador Program.
Jeff's expansive base of clients throughout the region and long term relationships will be a strength to support our Chamber members and also the other Ambassadors efforts. There are so many great opportunities offered through membership and the Ambassadors are key to supporting the professional staff.
As of November 2018, he will be serving as chair of this terrific group and work to expand on a successful base of interaction with Chamber members.
Josh Fuksman, is the owner of Finger Lakes Sign and Design, your one-stop shop for any printing and marketing needs.
In 2015, the owners of Laughlin Signs offered Josh the opportunity to purchase their business. He bought the business as a leap of faith three years ago. Josh had a lifetime goal of being an entrepreneur, and this opportunity allowed him to make that goal a reality. Using his business expertise and sales experience, Josh formed Finger Lakes Sign & Design.
Of joining the Ambassador Program, Josh shares, “Over the past few years, I have heard nothing but great things about the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and it kept piquing my interest. I recognize that the chamber and our communities are growing – and I want to be involved! As a business owner and entrepreneur, I understand the challenges facing small businesses and I also have the ability to think creatively and help find solutions. I cannot wait to make a difference in the Ambassador Program!”
Bryan is originally from the Elmira area, and has spent the bulk of his life in the Finger Lakes Region. After college he spent a few years in Florida and he returned to the area in 2015 to continue his career in banking.
After spending 5 years in the banking industry Bryan took a position as the Marketing Specialist at GLN Tax and Payroll. In this position Bryan wears several hats but spends the bulk of his time handling the marketing for GLN, and working directly with local businesses to help them find the most convenient and cost effective way to handle their tax and payroll needs.
Bryan had a few great experiences with the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce in the early part of his membership and decided that he wanted to be as involved as possible. He was impressed with the comradery among businesses and how they are eager to work together and promote one another in any way that they can. He felt that the best way to encourage this momentum was to get involved with the Ambassador Program and, hopefully, give other members the same positive experience that he has enjoyed.
As the Marketing Manager for Haefele Connect, Amber oversees the daily creative marketing activities for the company. She enjoys creating mutually beneficial connections for business owners, entrepreneurs, vendors, and colleagues, while building a community of support.
Prior to joining Haefele Connect, Amber served as the Executive Director for the Ithaca Montessori School and worked as Program Director for the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA). She mentored early stage entrepreneurs and Federal I-6 grant seed fund recipients as Program Coordinator for the University of California, Davis Sustainable Ag Tech Center. Amber worked as an American Sign Language interpreter for 7 years and maintains proficiency in ASL.
Of joining the Ambassador Program, she shares, ""I am thrilled to join the talented and team at Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce as an Ambassador. The Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce has connected our company to many valuable resources. I look forward to helping other businesses discover the many benefits that The Chamber has to offer them."
Debbie Rohde is an accomplished Sr. Recruiter with Adecco General Staffing in Corning, NY. She joined Adecco in July of 2002, bringing with her years of customer service, sales, and training experience. In her current role, she meets with potential clients to determine various business models they can develop and implement to meet their specific staffing needs. Once a plan is agreed upon, Debbie will then recruit potential employee matches through phone screening, testing abilities, and onsite interviewing. She is motivated to provide excellent service for her clients, her associates, and her colleagues.
It is Debbie’s desire to network in her community that has brought her to our Chamber. She is looking forward to meeting new people and learning more about our unique area of the world.
Born and raised in Chemung County, Debbie still resides in Horseheads where she has raised two sons and continues to enjoy time with her wonderful support team of family and friends. Debbie has always enjoyed our surrounding lakes and activities we offer. She is looking forward to meeting our members and being a part of the Ambassador program.
Sue Silhan is Co-Owner and Manager of Selah Studio’s Yoga and Music in Burdett. Sue is a practicing Registered Nurse and Certified Yoga Instructor who is continuing her education in Gestalt Pastoral Care. A career in healing and helping professions has led her to many connections in the Watkins Glen/Hector area and she feels that a connected community is a strong and healthy one. As a new business owner herself, Sue is excited to help others in business meet their full potential through the connections that the WGACOC provides. Meeting and talking to people is a special joy as she seeks to enhance the special relationships in the business community.
Bill is a member of the MacKinnon Clan, a group of Canadian families from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He met his wife Martha while in college and moved to the Finger Lakes in 1969. Bill Sitzman worked for Toronto-based Electronic Associates of Canada before founding his communications consulting firm near Trumansburg, NY in 1973. Bill and his two-man staff worked with over 700 clients in the United States, Canada, Latin America as well as the Pacific until his retirement in 2012. He continues to represent a small number of clients and is also the frequency coordinator for broadcast mobile units covering the Watkins Glen Race Track and for other events in the Southern Tier. He was a member of the Trumansburg Area Chamber of Commerce from 1979 to 2011 and has been a Member of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce since 2011 and is committed to promoting business and tourism in the Finger Lakes region. He is also active with the membership and Ambassador committees.
I am currently employed with Tompkins County Jail in Ithaca and also founder of T-Burg Takes on Pediatric Cancer. T-Burg Takes on Pediatric Cancer was Founded in 2009 as my wife and I saw the need for families that have children affected by this awful disease, they may have great insurance but almost none have insurance to cover them for being out of work to take care of their sick child. What we do is work with Galisano Children’s Hospital’s in Syracuse and Rochester where we have a liaison at each and they literally see every cancer child that comes to their facility. These liaison’s fill out our grant application and e-mail it to us and first timers get a check personally delivered by someone in our group for $1500.00, no questions asked. From there, if they need more assistance, we evaluate their needs and help them as much as we can. To date we have helped around 100 families. I realize our name is T-burg Takes on Pediatric Cancer but we have grown to be able to help families in ALL of central New York all the way from the Canadian border to Pennsylvania border.
In 2018 when we started our Annual Gala at the Harbor Hotel, we quickly realized how great Watkins Glen Community supports organizations like ours, and for that reason we decided to join the Watkins Glen Chamber. The Chamber has been very helpful and supportive of our organization, and for that reason I am here to help you in any way that I can.