Five Questions with Kathleen Harrington, Executive Director of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce

Kathleen Harrington
Kathleen Harrington

The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce is widely recognized for its networking, public advocacy, and the educational opportunities it provides to members across the region. Hear from Executive Director Kathleen Harrington about what’s to come for the organization in 2019 and why Rochester’s size is such an asset to the community.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Chamber?

Harrington: I have been fortunate to serve in a variety of interesting position throughout my career – ranging from public policy, advocacy, communications, and one stint in a health care start-up business. The common thread through all these different challenges has been service. Since service defines the mission of the Chamber, working at the Chamber continues this thread of service making this opportunity both an honor and joy.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

Harrington: The membership of the Chamber is numerous and diverse, representing all sizes of employers and sectors of our local economy. As a result, the agenda for our organization is both broad and deep. We are focused on making a positive difference for our members by providing tools and skills to assist in operational excellence, developing strategies to assist members in recruitment and retention of talent, defining public policy, promoting business through networking, marketing, and building a robust community of support, and serving as a convener of conversation and supporter of collaboration to solve problems collectively.

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

Harrington: Rochester is unique. Our city was built on a foundation of humanitarianism, entrepreneurialism, innovation, relentless pursuit of excellence, and teamwork. Not surprisingly, these same characteristics define us today. We are small enough to harness the creativity and collaborative spirit of our community, yet we are large enough to welcome new and different thinking which can help accelerate our growth and increase the diversity of thought and people in our community. 

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

Harrington: DMC will build on the uniqueness of Rochester, capturing our community’s relentless pursuit of excellence and knowledge while maintaining the qualities that make us a great place to live, work, and play.

DMC will drive growth – increase discovery science, improve and increase amenities and comfort for visitors, and be matched by the creativity of our community’s entrepreneurs – the thousands of small businesses that will grow and innovate to provide goods and services to our increasingly diverse but still unique community.

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, and/or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

Harrington: My advice to someone thinking about coming to Rochester – no matter what stage of life – is straightforward and simple. Come and engage. If you engage, you will be enriched, and the community will be as well.