Meet Marcia O'Kane

She's the force behind the new Greenwich Chamber of Commerce



Before she became executive director of the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2012, Marcia O’Kane had a long career on Wall Street. But after witnessing the 9/11 attacks (her office was directly across from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers), she committed herself to nonprofit work. She came to the Greenwich Chamber after several years leading the Stamford Senior Center. Since then, she has been widely credited with reviving the organization. Here’s how the energetic resident has made it happen.

GM: There’s been a real surge in chamber membership during your tenure. How have you boosted the ranks?

MO: Well, you are right about that. In January of this year alone we had sixteen unsolicited members sign up, and 100 sign up last year. People are hearing the chamber has reinvented itself, and there’s a perceived value in membership. We’ve done a lot of surveys of our membership and we’ve found the number-one thing that people want is an opportunity to network themselves and their businesses in a nonthreatening way. And we’ve really focused on doing that.

GM: Can you give as an example?

MO: I wanted to call attention to the Alliance Francaise, which is right on Greenwich Avenue, but a lot of people don’t know about it. I wanted to help promote that great French film series they have. We had an event there, and we got Sweet Lisa’s, whom we all know and love, to make a custom cake promoting its festival, and we also had Méli-Mélo bring in some delicious food. So, in the process of promoting one organization I also promoted Sweet Lisa’s and Méli-Mélo. Collaboration works and we all benefit from getting to know each other.

GM: People often think of Greenwich Avenue as being the business district, but there are lots of places to shop and do business. How do you promote them all?

MO: Our membership is quite diverse. We’re seeing a lot of sole proprietorships; we have realtors who are members, grocers, hardware stores. Geographically, we even have members who do business here but are located elsewhere. I think people join because they know when they are listed in our directory it’s like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. And people value our opinion. I get calls asking if we know a good plumber or if we can recommend a great florist. Why pay money for Angie’s List? You can join your local chamber and get so much more.

GM: We hear you sometimes ride a Vespa around town.

MO: I’ve had the Vespa for over twelve years now. I bought it because I thought it would be fun and it is! For some reason, when you ride it around town, people wave and smile. I jump on it and go to Tod’s Point and I zip around town to run errands. It’s a throwback to Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. It’s a fantasy. And it gets seventy miles to the gallon!

GM: Any new initiatives you’re especially excited about?

MO: We launched our Women Who Matter luncheon series and it’s a big hit. The idea came to me when I walked down Greenwich Avenue one day and realized how many of those businesses were owned or operated by women. I wanted to do something that spoke to them. So, our luncheon features one woman who talks about what’s mattered to her personally; what’s challenged her and changed the trajectory of her career, and what we can learn from that. We’ve also focused on more educational seminars on topics like getting your kid into an Ivy League school, because we have a member who’s a great expert on that. We’ve done things on how to cold-call effectively. And we’re having a lot of fun with our speed-networking events. A big goal of our chamber is to educate and find the areas of need.

GM: But life isn’t all business. What do you do for fun?

MO: I’m really into fitness. I’m proud to say I’m a twelve- time marathoner, and I’m very proud of my six Boston’s, which I considered the hardest. I also love the arts. I’m a real Type-A Gemini. 

 

 

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance's Go For Pink Shopping Event

    2014.10.02
     @ Greenwich Avenue area

    Breast Cancer Alliance announced that it is partnering with Greenwich merchants for a special day of events and shopping on Thursday, October 2nd...

  • New Goergen Lecture

    2014.10.02
     @ Bruce Museum

    Reflections on Highlights of the Hohenbuchau Collection featuring Peter C. Sutton Known today as the "Golden Age" of Netherlandish...

  • Muddy Up 5k Adventure Run & Family Fun Walk

    2014.10.05
     @ Camp Simmons

    Are you ready for some MUDDY fun? Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich is proud to host the 3rd annual Muddy Up 5k Adventure Run & Family Fun...

  • Muddy Up 5k & Family Fun Walk

    2014.10.05
     @ Camp Simmons

    Race starts at 9:15 a.m. REGISTRATION HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MON. SEPT. 29 at 8:00 A.M. DON'T LIKE THE MUD? SPONSOR A CLUB MEMBER TO RUN...

  • Sweat for a Cause

    2014.10.05
     @ SoulCycle Greenwich

    The Young Women's League of New Canaan (YWL) is sponsoring its first fundraiser of the season, "Sweat For A Cause" at SoulCycle...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Tuesday Toddler Tours

    2014.10.07
     @ Bruce Museum

    Come to the Bruce this fall to take part in our exciting new children and family programming! No advance registration is required and programs...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Lyme Research Alliance 3rd Annual Golf Tournament

    2014.10.09
     @ The Stanwich Club

    Tee up and raise funds & awareness for Lyme disease awareness at one of the area’s finest golf courses. The golf tournament is part of...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Outdoor Arts Festival

    2014.10.11
     @ Bruce Museum

    Come and enjoy the Bruce Museum’s 33rd Annual Outdoor Arts Festival. More than 85 artists from all over the country, many of them new to...

  • Lookbook Live Tour

    2014.10.12
     @ Westchester Mall

    In September + October 2014, Simon will team up with three of the world's top fashion magazines, Glamour, GQ, and  Vogue on a nationwide...

  • The 29th Annual American Artisan Show

    2014.10.17
     @ Wilton Historical Society

    This nationally recognized fundraiser is held on the grounds of the Wilton Historical Society, and features 25 artisans who will show their work...


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