MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Chamber of Commerce introduced its executive board for the 2018-2019 year June 27, adding three new members to its ranks. Joining the board of the Chamber of Commerce is Catherine Wilson, president and CEO of United Way of Essex and West Hudson; Christine Coster, a State Farm agent and owner of Christine Coster Insurance Agency Inc.; and Joy Yagid, the owner of Joy Yagid Photography LLC. Taking over as president will be Diana Galer, and rounding out the rest of the board will be Ellen Donker, publisher of Matters Magazine; Rhonda Panken as chamber legal counsel; and Steven Truppo, of RRBB & Co., as chamber treasurer.
Wilson, whose business is based in Newark, has been involved with the Chamber of Commerce for about a year, but has lived in Maplewood for almost 10 years. She started attending Chamber events so that she could take advantage of business opportunities in her hometown.
“I wanted to connect to other businesses; we didn’t have connections in Maplewood,” Wilson said in a July 2 phone interview with the News-Record, saying that her company, which specializes in financial advisement and strategy, was looking to expand. “We’re trying to align our vision with theirs.”
Wilson said that the fact that she lives in Maplewood is an advantage that she has and will bring to the board, because she is immersed in the community every day.
“I think, because I’m a resident of Maplewood, I have some thoughts about how to guide it,” Wilson said. “I’m around town so I see a lot of business owners and I look forward to meeting more people.”
Wilson said that she wants to help businesses increase their revenue, and use her experience working at a nonprofit organization to help business owners give back to and expand their community, something that Yagid also wants to do.
“Businesses traditionally have an office or a brick-and-mortar store, but I’m home-based,” Yagid said in a phone interview with the News-Record on July 5. “I want to help people start businesses out of their homes while not taking away from the others. And I’d like to make the municipal codes a little easier to support businesses that are home-based.”
Yagid, who has been involved with the Chamber of Commerce for about five years, also lives in Maplewood. Like Wilson, she said that working in the community where she lives has helped her business grow.
“My clients are my neighbors and my friends,” she said. “I try to give back to the community as much as I can, and this is a way to do that.”
Coster said she wants to hear the concerns and the ideas of Maplewood business owners, and work with them to help their businesses thrive.
“I feel so strongly that we support the causes in Maplewood,” Coster said in a phone interview with the News-Record on July 9. “It’s so important that our businesses thrive, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m hoping to get more involvement from more stakeholders, and get more businesses involved.”
What makes the new executive board unique is the fact that it is made up almost entirely of women. While unintentional, all three new members said they are excited about the configuration of the new board.
“I don’t think it was intentional, but I was really excited to see that,” Coster said. “Many business owners are women, and I think we’re all really good listeners and leaders, and I think we’ll work really well together.”
“I was excited to work with whoever is on the board,” Yagid said. “But it’s nice to see more women in leadership roles. I’m looking forward to it either way.”
Wilson echoed Yagid’s sentiments about women in leadership positions, saying that the majority female board will be good for the Chamber of Commerce.
“We do need more women in business and on boards especially, so I am excited about that,” she said.