Linda Hillman is the President of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held since July 2001. She serves as the chief executive officer of the Chamber and is responsible for developing programs and working with the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and community businesses and organizations.
Under her leadership, in 2006 the Chamber was named as "One of the Top Three Chambers" of its size in the nation by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). The award, which is the highest achievement in the membership development profession, recognizes an organization's excellence in financial performance, member programs and internal operations and the organizational mission.
Linda oversees the Chamber membership, member benefits, finance, strategic planning, economic development initiatives and coordinates activities for a staff of seven. Under her leadership, the Chamber has increased its budget revenue by 137% (to $1 million) and increased its member retention rate by 7%, which is 3% above the national average. The Chamber has increased its total membership by 17% to more than 1,200 members.
Prior to joining the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber, Linda was Vice President of Public Relations/Marketing & Sales for Empire Corporate Federal Credit Union. In addition to her public relations and marketing responsibilities, she directed a four-state corporate sales force.
Previously, Linda served as the Vice President of Membership at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. Under her direction, Chamber membership grew 70%, totaling more than 2,800 members.
Linda's extensive community service includes serving on the Key Bank Advisory Board, a board member of the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy 2020, member of the Business Alliance for Tech Valley High School and Forum for Executive Women of the Capital Region. In addition she is a founding member of the Tech Valley Chamber Alliance and past Board member of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, March of Dimes, Chamber Alliance of New York State and the National Association of Membership Development. She has also volunteered with WMHT's Great TV Auction, the Albany Institute of History & Art, and the American Cancer Society.
Linda is a graduate of the University at Albany. She is also a 1996 graduate of the Capital Leadership program.
Laura Amos has been a part-time staff member of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce since April, 1999. Her primary responsibilities include monthly invoicing of the general membership and direct support of the Membership Manager by assisting with membership renewal reminders and statements. Laura also provides individuals and employers with relocation information and fulfills tourism requests.
Prior to joining the Chamber team, Laura spent nearly 20 years at NYSARC, the Rensselaer County Chapter of the Association for Retarded Citizens in various roles. As the Team Leader of the Supported Apartment Program, Laura was responsible for supervising 15 full/part-time staff while providing the needed supports to nearly 30 people with disabilities living in the community in scattered site apartments. While at the ARC, Laura received the Staff Person of the Year award and was a 1990 graduate of Leadership Rensselaer.
Laura has a B.S. degree from the SUNY Brockport and has volunteered for the Arts Center of the Capital Region while actively supporting many local organizations. She has also served on the Boards of Catholic Charities and the Rensselaer County Historical Society.
Doreen Ercolano, owner of Quill & Ink Publishing in Castleton, New York, is a consultant to the Chamber, assisting the organization in producing its membership publications. Doreen is editor of the Chamber's monthly newsletter, insight, and is a contributing editor and writer for the annual Membership Directory and Quality of Life Resource Guide. She is also editor of the Chamber's quarterly economic development and tourism newsletter.
A graduate of the State University at Plattsburgh, Doreen has more than 20 years' experience in newspaper journalism and professional writing. She has been a consultant to the Chamber since 1991.
CJ has held the position of Membership Manager since March of 2010. His primary responsibilities include recruiting and retaining new members to the Chamber as well as being a resource to existing members. As membership manager, CJ also works closely with the Ambassador Program to enhance current member relations.
CJ comes to the chamber as an alumnus of Niagara University where his background is in sports and tourism marketing. He has recently relocated to the Capital District area from Syracuse, NY.
CJ is actively involved with many local area non profit organizations, aiding them with their special event committees. He also spends his time aiding local state parks with their clean up days.
Brenda Ladd is President of Northeast Show Promoters, located in Latham, New York. A member of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce since 2001, Brenda has served as the Stroll Coordinator since 2003. Her main responsibilities include booking entertainment, securing participating businesses, soliciting food vendors, overseeing the Window Decorating Event, program, advertising, marketing, budget and liaison with sponsors and media.
Founded in 1990, Northeast Show Promoters is an event production company specializing in festivals, consumer shows, trade shows and conferences. Brenda has worked with a variety of groups and organizations, ranging from non-profit organizations to private business to local government.
Debbie O’Donnell joined the Chamber staff as Executive Assistant in July of 2009. Her responsibilities include assisting President Linda Hillman and overseeing the daily operations of the office. She also records and maintains the corporate records for the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.
Prior to joining the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Debbie was the executive assistant for eight years to Pamela Sawchuk Brown, former president of Sawchuk, Brown Associates, a public relations and public affairs firm in Albany. In addition, she worked as an executive secretary at Trustco Bank and spent eleven years at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce where she performed executive secretarial and event planning duties.
Debbie has been active with her children’s sporting activities and was president of the Guilderland Boys Lacrosse Booster Club.
Kate joined the Chamber team in 2009 and is responsible for managing all member programs and special events. In addition, she assists in various marketing and communications efforts including the Chamber's monthly newsletter, marketing collateral, website maintenance, and member communications.
Kate graduated from Siena College with a B.A in English and a concentration in writing and philosophy. She is a member of Women in Development of Northeastern New York. In her free time, Kate choreographs and instructs dance to children ages 3 to 18 at a studio in Delmar, New York.
Controller518.274.7020, ext. 15
Stephanie Scully is the Controller for the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held since November 2000. She is responsible for management of all internal financial operations of the Chamber including supervision of cash flow, audit of health insurance transactions, oversight of investments and preparation of the budget. Stephanie holds a B.S. in Finance from Siena College.
Director of Economic Development & Government Affairs518.274.7020, ext. 14
Ryan Silva joined the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce in February 2004 as Membership Manager and was promoted in 2007 to Membership Director. In August of 2008, he was promoted to the position of Director of Business Development for the Chamber's newly created Economic Development Partnership (EDP). In 2012, Ryan was promoted to his current position of Director of Economic Development and Government Affairs.
Through the EDP, Ryan's primary goal is to retain businesses in Rensselaer County by reaching out to provide professional direction and resources that answer their needs. Ryan assists companies with expansion planning, writing and evaluating business plans, directing them to financing options, and navigating government regulatory assistance. In addition, Ryan administers the Chamber's entrepreneurial training program SmartUp.
In his membership development role, Ryan was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Bronze Level Award from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). In addition, he also had an instrumental role in the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce qualifying as "One of the Top Three Chambers in the Nation" for Membership Development and Program Excellence for 2006-07.
Ryan also currently sits on the Board of Associates for The College of Saint Rose. He is actively involved with the Chamber's Economic Government and Affairs Committee, as well as the Education Committee. He also recently joined the Rensselaer County Business Services team as an active member. He graduated from St. Rose in 2003 with a BA in Public Communications, and concentration in History and Political Science.
Vice President518.274.7020, ext 18
Claudette Thornton is the Vice President of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position she was promoted to in April of 2012 after serving as the Chamber's Director of Marketing and Communications since April 2010.
Her responsibilities include assisting the President of the Chamber in strengthening relationships with the Board of Directors, community leadership and the membership; implementing the strategic plan; representing the Chamber and its members at key events; and developing and implementing policy and other operational decisions. She is responsible for the Chamber’s award-winning Leadership Institute, coordinating a faculty of executive-level business professionals who instruct the region’s next generation of business and community leaders.
Managing the Chamber’s brand, marketing its programs and services through traditional, online and social media and overseeing the creation and production of Chamber events including the Annual Dinner, Van Rensselaer Dinner, and Golf Classic are also among her responsibilities. She directs production of the Chamber's annual Membership Directory and Resource Guide, monthly newsletter, promotional materials, and two websites.
Previously, Claudette served as deputy director of development at Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries where she managed their annual giving, donor stewardship, and development communications. She also served as an associate advancement officer in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s $1.4 billion capital campaign.
Claudette serves on the Board of the Capital Region Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as Treasurer, is a Board Member of the Troy Downtown Business Improvement District and the Grafton Community Library, and is a member of the Communications Committee of Women in Development of Northeastern New York.