Rokas and Christine Beresniovas at the CAG Russian Embassy annual gala last year
This Wednesday evening, the Board of the Georgetown Business Association (GBA) will meet to elect its officers for the coming year. Is this important to Georgetown businesses and residents? As I consider my own role, in the organization, a few thoughts draw my focus:
During first several meetings I attended as a new GBA board member in 2007, many members were debating whether or not GBA had outlived its usefulness in Georgetown. Membership had fallen dramatically. Board meetings seemed more like a chore than a privilege or responsibility. GBA events often attracted fewer than 15 people. It was clear to all of us that GBA was at a crossroads, and it either had to regroup and reconsider its mission and activities, or let other organizations take its place.
But many board members—I was one of them—were not ready to give up on GBA, as they still believed we could successfully achieve our mission of connecting Georgetown businesses with clients and advocating on behalf of the needs of the Georgetown business community. Subsequently, through the determination and the hard work of the GBA board, dedicated members of the Georgetown community, and elected officers, GBA successfully re-launched and rebranded itself into a thriving and vibrant business organization. Gone are the days when we had small turnouts for our networking events. Now, our monthly events have to be hosted in venues that can hold 100-150 people.
GBA membership has finally returned to the levels from before 2008, and in this year alone, 40 new members have joined. GBA has also joined the social media revolution on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Additionally, our partnerships with local media outlets in Georgetown have given GBA more visibility, and GBA has become more respected on a city-wide level, having hosted events for Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-large) and Council Chairman Kwame Brown.
GBA also hosts quarterly events to foster conversations and collaboration between Georgetown organizations, such as CAG, the BID, Georgetown University, and the ANC. GBA has also made an arrangement with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce so that GBA members can become members the local Chamber for a nominal fee. Moreover, we are working with the Small Business Development Corporation, which has been charged by the government to help with loans to small businesses in the community.
We have also brought back some former GBA favorites, such as the GBA Annual Senior Advisory Luncheons, which include former GBA board members and recognize the contributions of some of the longest-standing businesses in the Georgetown community.
None of this could have been accomplished without the dedication and hard work of every single GBA board member who has stepped up this year whether as chair of or participant in a committee. We have all worked hard to make GBA a vibrant business organization that offers real value to its membership. I would be remiss if I did not single out Joe Giannino, outgoing GBA President who has demonstrated great leadership skills in moving the organization forward and creating an organization in which everyone plays a role.
Building on my participation as a board member, as Vice President of GBA for the past two years, I have been encouraged by my colleagues to consider running for GBA President. As I reflect on how much GBA has accomplished in the last few years and how proud I am of what we have done, I would be honored to continue my service with such a great organization.
It is the leadership of Joe Giannino and others that I hope to emulate and build upon if I become GBA President.
In 2012, legislation will be the number one-priority for the GBA because of the need to reestablish a strong lobbying organization for local interests. We will also continue collaborating with other Georgetown groups—indeed such cooperation is currently underway—to develop ideas about how to make Georgetown the most competitive shopping destination in Washington, D.C. while also respecting the needs of local residents.
Additionally, we will continue to build on the momentum already achieved by GBA in reaching out to new members, supporting the varied needs of our current members, and developing a stronger social media presence online. We also plan to continue streamlining GBA operations to ensure that processes are more efficient for our members. For example, next year we hope to implement an automated membership management system that will make it easier for members to pay their dues online. Finally, because networking is one of the most important activities for GBA members, we will continue to host a variety of our most popular activities, including new “members only” events.
I am proud to have been a part of such exciting developments with GBA, and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings. Thank you for your ongoing leadership and participation in this important endeavor for our community and our nation’s capital.