Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 10-31-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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LINCOLN – At Elizabeth "Liz" Catucci's first Eggs & Issues breakfast as president and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 17, R.I. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner handed her a $250 check for the Chamber from the unclaimed property division. Catucci, after watching former CEO John Gregory tell jokes at the beginning of so many speeches, tried one of her own, saying something to the effect of that being the first time that the state had given the Chamber a check. The joke couldn't have fallen flatter, Catucci told The Breeze, laughing, but she learned a valu- able lesson, and one Gregory has reminded her of frequently: That she's not him, and that she was not hired to be him. "Lesson learned. One of the things I'm learning is I have to be myself," she said. "John always told a joke. I'm not John, even though I have a lot of similar characteristics." Gregory has told her time and again that she was hired to be herself, and while that might not include the witty comment at exactly the right moment, he has assured her time and again that she has the charisma and professionalism to make this job her own. Catucci, 37, of North Providence, said she's absolutely loved getting to know the lay of the land in her first month on the job. Being in the top seat at the Chamber gives a whole new per- spective to the one she gained previously as a board member, she said. While there are numerous initiatives she can't wait to get off the ground, the first weeks as president of the Chamber have been full of mak- ing the organization's bread and butter, which is securing corporate sponsorships by meeting with sponsors and reminding them of the value the Chamber provides, said Catucci. While she and others on staff and the Chamber board will begin the strategic planning process in other areas soon, nothing can happen without those sponsor- ships. "What do they say? No margin, no mission," she said. One of her greatest strengths is building rela- tionships as a people person, said Catucci, and she's been doing that with elected leaders in all 13 of the Chamber's member communities as well as with state leaders, including House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. While "there's a big political side" to the work and that side can be unnerving at times, she said it's also a side she embraces. Gregory and others did a great job of cultivating great relationships at the Statehouse, she said, "and I want to con- tinue that." While corporate sponsors are pivotal, so too are relationships with member small businesses, said Catucci. As president she's gotten a fresh perspective on the importance the Chamber has for those businesses, she said, as they can't afford to advocate on their own at the Statehouse. Lenette Forry does a "fabulous" job as the Chamber's lobbyist championing the interests of small businesses, said Catucci, who said she too recently registered as a lobbyist. The intention is to include more people in that lobbying effort through the creation of a government affairs council, she said. A huge goal is to create a women's business council, an idea that idea has gotten tremendous feedback from other women in business, said Catucci. Numerous people have approached her about being part of it, many suggesting names of potential speakers and other ideas, and she said she feels very fortunate that she'll be able to help meet what is clearly a need for more support of women in business. While other women didn't seem to feel like they weren't being heard previously, she said, they are viewing the ascension of a woman to CEO of the Chamber as an opportunity, and "people want to get involved in it." Such an ini- tiative might not have made a lot of sense for a John Gregory to undertake, she said, but it's a natural fit for her. One of her greatest adjustments to this new professional life, says this 2018 Providence Business News 40 Under Forty winner and longtime mar- keting professional, has been learning that she doesn't have as much control of her schedule as she once did. Her husband, Paulo, is a "big supporter of mine," she said, especially with their children, ages 7, 5 and 3. She's already had all three kids in the office with her, she said, part of the terri- tory when you have a job where people could call on you at any time. Catucci said she's been overwhelmed by the "unbelievably supportive" staff at the Chamber. With a staff this small, everyone is working so hard every day, she said, and she learned early on that they "live and breathe the Chamber." Her husband recently asked her what everyone does, and she realized that for how busy they all are, she needed to start getting to know each of them and what they do far better. Now that she's NRI Chamber's Catucci ready to roll after reminder to be true to herself By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com See CATUCCI, Page 22 ELIZABETH "LIZ" CATUCCI ©2019 THE VALLEY BREEZE ©2019 THE VALLEY BREEZE Breeze THE VALLEY A New Beginning A special supplement from your colleagues at

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