The Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce has grown over the years since its inception in 1845. It wouldn’t have the prominent presence that it does today without having strong leadership. While chamber members have made an impact in the past, none have left an impression quite as strong as Gina Spagnola.
In 2003, Spagnola joined the chamber as vice president, and, less than one year later, she became chamber president. Through her leadership and tenacity, she revamped the organization and molded it into the professional and influential organization it is today.
“Gina was the right person to lead the strategic overhaul,” said former chamber board member Claire Reiswerg. “You can have a great plan, but without the right person it won’t happen. Gina embodied the plan and made it happen.”
In 2007, Spagnola and board chair Dr. Ben Ramier led the chamber through a transition that saw the resignation of its entire 42-member board of directors. A smaller, diverse board of 12 voting members representing the different demographics and businesses of the island was appointed.
“Under Gina’s leadership, the chamber began to think and act strategically — events, programs, decisions, initiatives, governance, committee structure, the office location - all became part of a longer-range plan,” said Betty Massey, former chamber chair and current board member.
“We wanted to make the chamber the “go-to organization for Galveston businesses,” Reiswerg said.
Several new several programs were initiated under Spagnola’s watch that are thriving today, including the Legislative and Advocacy committees, Business Advocacy Committee, C-Crewe, Navigators, Leadership Galveston and Lemonade Day. In addition, as a result of her post-Ike work for the business community, Spagnola has become a key resource for communities rebuilding after disasters.
“The goal of the strategic plan was to promote and advocate for local business, and that is exactly what has happened,” Raimer said. “The chamber takes action and is there to support local business.”
“The plan that the organization developed while Ben Raimer was chair has been used as a guidebook for the chamber,” Massy said. And now, the 175th anniversary fundraising campaign is aimed at fulfilling the last piece of the strategic plan that was put in place so many years ago.”