Last month with a heavy heart I announced I will step down as the President of the Coolidge Corner Merchant’s Association until new leadership is in place. Since I took over in 2005, It’s been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.
I moved to Brookline in the mid-eighties. I live in Newton now, just a 10 minute drive and an hour walk to Coolidge Corner, but Newton is just where we rest our heads. My professional and much of my personal life is still focused within our town’s borders. BrooklineHub.com is my third Coolidge Corner business. I founded Advanced Digital Replication, Inc. in 1998 in Coolidge Corner, and was a partner in the basement temple that was the Coolidge Corner Gym.
As a resident of the town, I never knew a riff existed between the business community and town government. I always thought our community was one. My resident neighbors, all the cool shops and the Coolidge were all equal parts of why I loved it here. It turns out that while the resident community and the local shops were all part of the same town; Town Government had very little connection with the local, independent merchants.
This began to change when Brookline added an Economic Development Director and then a Commercial Areas Coordinator to the town budget. As CAC, longtime resident Marge Amster built with tireless precision, a lasting bond between small business owners and the town. Marge taught me and others how our town government works and how we should insert ourselves into the process in the healthiest way possible.
When I first spoke at a Selectmen’s meeting people in the room who felt we did not belonged there challenged us. Thankfully, the Chairman of the Selectmen at the time, Bobby Allen, welcomed us. I’m proud to say that since I took over the CCMA, with the help of Marge, Kara Brewton, and too many people in the business community to name, a bridge has been built that I know will last. I must also thank our Town Administrator, Mel Kleckner, Advisory Committee Chairperson Harry Bohrs, and Selectmen Chairperson, Betsy Dewitt for keeping an open door policy and an open mind.
In the last 7 years, through my connection with the CCMA, I’ve found many enriching passions. No longer do my companies have marketing budgets. Those funds have turned into pro bono ventures for the Opera House at Booth Bay Harbor, Room to Grow, The Brookline Teen Center, The Brookline Emergency Food Pantry, and the Brookline Literacy Partnership, and many more relationships are percolating as we speak.
About 5 years ago, my company Advanced Digital Websites, Inc. began publishing BrooklineHub.com. Our mission is to promote all Brookline community building efforts, while supporting the local non-profits and local, independent businesses.
The BrooklineHub.com Youth Awards will be back this year at the Coolidge Corner Theater on May 3. We are so happy with the success of our two Feed Brookline Campaigns that raised thousands of dollars for the Brookline Emergency Food Panty. We thank everyone who helped sell out the Feed Brookline Dinner at The Fireplace and made it a transcending experience for all. We look forward to the Feed Brookline Food Summit in September and the launch of feedbrookline.org.
I look forward to my continued membership in the CCMA and watching new talented leaders take the organization to new heights. It has also been an honor to serve on the Brookline Chamber’s Government Committee under great leaders like Roger Lipson, Jonathan Stearns, Lea Cohen, and Harry Robinson. I’m also very excited to be a part of the Brookline Local First founding steering committee and serving our leaders Dana Brigham of Brookline Booksmith and Chobee Hoy of Chobee Hoy Real Estate Associates. We are very excited that town residents will join local business leaders and have an active connection with the Local First movement.
Thank you, Coolidge Corner Merchant’s Association. Thank you for never making me feel like an outsider, even when I sold out of my interest in the gym. Thank you for your support of my wacky community building experiments. Thank you helping me find my passion for community service and leading me toward making that a big part of my life. Mostly, thank you for what I know will be many life long friendships.