At KUBA’s upcoming Annual Meeting – March 18th, 5:30-7:00 pm at the Kingston LGBTQ Center – we will be reflecting on the evolution of Uptown and of KUBA, and moving forward with the introduction of new KUBA officers.
And just as every ship needs a Captain, every board needs a President at the helm to provide direction. So, it seemed a good time to ask our outgoing and incoming Presidents to share their thoughts about where KUBA has been, what has been accomplished, and where the organization is heading.
President and CEO, Tonner Doll Company, Inc.
Outgoing KUBA President
Robert Tonner took on the role as KUBA President two years ago, at a time when Uptown was growing rapidly but businesses were also facing some contentious issues. What Robert quickly realized was that the organization needed to stop and reset itself – to take a deep breath and focus on core issues: membership and community outreach, accounting systems, and communication and information management, among others.
It wasn’t easy – or perfect – but it paid off. From providing a common voice for business, KUBA became increasingly visible, engaged and influential. KUBA partners with the Uptown Proud initiative, participates in Uptown Clean Sweep events, produces the Snowflake Festival, and members provide all types of support for a variety of musical and arts events and celebrations, including the New Year’s Eve block party and ball drop.
KUBA embraced social media and updated their Facebook page to help share information with and about member businesses and to expand community outreach. A Communications Committee was formed in 2014 and a brand new KUBA web site was launched in the early days of 2015.
Robert is rightfully proud of the accomplishments of the KUBA board. He is also grateful for the relationships that were formed and the fact that he felt the board always had his back and supported him 100%.
He is also cognizant that KUBA has since become a key player and a respected voice in local, governmental issues that impact Uptown businesses.
“The City wanted and needed a single organization to provide a unified perspective for issues that affect Uptown businesses,” he said. “When some individual shows up with 300 signatures about parking meters, our representatives are not getting the whole picture. The type of picture a KUBA can provide – it’s a win-win for both sides.”
In his tenure, KUBA has made many such community connections and takes an active interest (and provides a unified voice) in tourism, parking, the Pike Plan, and a number of other issues that impact all of Uptown.
As Captains go, you could say Robert Tonner helped bring the KUBA ship to an exciting new world, ready to face new challenges and adventures.
Sales Team Leader, Catskill Hudson Bank
Incoming KUBA President
Incoming President Jane Garrity absolutely embodies the infectious enthusiasm of the KUBA Board. She firmly believes that if you’re going to do something – anything – you might as well enjoy doing it or it simply isn’t worth doing.
In her new role, Jane hopes to continue to grow KUBA’s membership, presence and community engagement with “everyone who lives, works, plays or prays Uptown”.
She is sincerely appreciative of the Board’s energy (including hers) and hard work to bring KUBA to this point in time and will focus on growing KUBA’s presence and eminence as a collective voice for Uptown.
“We have power, volume and clarity with that voice,” says Jane. “And to maintain and grow that, KUBA must be an organization that is inclusive and respectful of all members in the conversation – which only strengthens our breadth of understanding and our impact.”
Jane emphatically wants the organization to reach out to Uptown businesses and demonstrate that anyone can be an integral part of creating a more vibrant community – that becoming a KUBA member is not signing your life away.
“We’re all volunteers – and everyone has different levels of what they can or want to contribute. And that’s okay!” she asserts. “We’re only going to ask that you give what you reasonably can of your time and effort – and to add your voice to ours.”
When asked if she had one grand aspirational goal for her term as President, she didn’t hesitate.
“In my term, my dream goal would be to help unite and merge all Kingston business associations into one. We share so many of the same issues and goals. Imagine the impact we could have for ALL Kingston businesses – and for our city as a whole.”
Welcome aboard, Jane Garrity. It sounds like we’re in for an exciting (and fun!) new adventure.