The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce announced today that it has chosen a new president and CEO: Hector Batista, most recently the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and a veteran of city government. Batista becomes the first Hispanic to serve as president in the group’s 100-year history.
“This is kind of a homecoming for me. I’m a local kid from Brooklyn, who went to high school in Brooklyn and continues to have roots in Brooklyn,” said Batista in the press release announcing his appointment. He succeeds Andrew Hoan, who left in May to become head of the Portland Business Alliance. The chamber is the largest such group in New York State, with more than 2,100 members, and was recognized as the state’s chamber-of-the-year in 2017.
Batista will join the chamber on Oct. 22 and will be officially welcomed aboard two days later at the group’s 2018 annual membership meeting at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island. “I am truly thrilled to hand over the reins to a person who has made quite an impact in the non-profit sector and who has the experience and energy to lead this organization,” said Rick Russo, a senior vice president of the chamber who has served as acting president since Hoan’s departure.
A graduate of Brooklyn’s St. Francis College with a degree in political science, Batista began his career in economic-development roles, including service as a senior policy advisor to the Brooklyn borough president. In a city-wide post, he was the chief operating officer of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In the private sector, he ran external relations for Jeffrey M. Brown Associates, a construction-management firm. In the non-profit realm, he served as executive vice president of the American Cancer Society and CEO of the Vocational Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young adults.
In his eight years at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Batista expanded the group’s programs and fundraising, as well as doubling the number of youths served, to more than 5,200 annually across the five boroughs. He grew the organization’s on-the-ground footprint too, opening new offices in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
“We are excited to bring Hector on board as he really has the experience and enthusiasm needed to move the chamber forward with its programming and economic-development initiatives,” said Ana Oliveira, the chamber’s co-chair, in making the announcement. “The addition of Hector’s leadership also adds the element of diversity which is reflective of the borough, and really pushes the chamber into the next century.”