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...

  • Meet Nomi Eve, Author of Henna House

    2014.10.22

    An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth...

  • Financial Literacy 2-Day Lecture Presented by Bob Salomon at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.21
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    Making sense of the world of finance FREE and open to all *Participants should pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal on Oct.22, as Bob...

  • Susan G. Komen CT Educational Session at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.22
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    FREE AND OPEN TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY! Learn about the importance of early detection and screenings Meet the men and women whose work is...

  • YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week

    2014.10.18
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week October 18 - 26, 2014 Join us for a week-long celebration of local art! Showcasing established and emerging...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • The Good Lie Screening

    2014.10.22
     @ Bow Tie Cinema Greenwich

    Greenwich International Film Festival in collaboration with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is screening  The Good Lie All proceeds benefit UNICEF...

  • 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...

  • 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....

  • Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Networking Event

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce will hold its October After Six Networking event. All are invited to exchange business cards, enjoy appetizers and...

  • October After Six

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Join us for After Six Networking at the Delamar Hotel

  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

    2014.10.23

    Athome Magazine celebrates Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams' fall collection with fabulous vignettes from some of your favorite A-List designers....

  • Oktoberfest 2014 Greenwich United Way

    2014.10.24
     @ Loading Dock

    Greenwich United Way’s sixth annual “Oktoberfest” fundraiser is set for Friday, October 24 at Stamford’s Loading...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • The Food Network Open Casting Call for Home Cooks

    2014.10.25
     @ My Cooking Party

    FOOD NETWORK’S TOP CELEBRITY CHEFS ARE SCOURING THE NATION IN SEARCH OF AMAZING HOME COOKS! You’ve watched them on TV, bought their...

  • Greenwich Hospital Gala

    2014.10.25
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    It will be a Gala worthy of a doge when retiring Greenwich Hospital president and CEO, Frank A. Corvino, will be presented with the...

  • The Wilton Fall Antiques Market

    2014.10.26
     @ Wilton High School Field House

    Barnstar Productions and the Wilton Historical Society will present the Wilton Antiques Market. More than 80 exhibitors are expected to...


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