Arbesu steps down as Chamber of Commerce chair; Oliveira and Cygler step up as co-chairs


New chamber co-chair Ana Oliveira, center, shares a laugh with Charles Archer, CEO of the Thrive Network (in tuxedo) and other guests at the chamber’s centennial gala (Photos by Colin Clark)

It’s a time of transition at the top for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Less than two months after the departure of president and CEO Andrew Hoan, the group announced today that its longtime chair will be departing as well. Denise Arbesu, a senior vice president at Citigroup, said she will step down after six years in the role.

Arbesu will be succeeded by two co-chairs: Ana Oliveira, a senior vice president and regional manager at Investors Bank, and Gil Cygler, president of Glade Claim Management and a car-rental entrepreneur.

Investors Bank, which has 18 branches in the borough, has been a frequent sponsor of Chamber events. The New Jersey-based company, with total assets of more than $24 billion, focuses on serving small to medium-size businesses. It raised its profile last year by signing football greats Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason to an extensive marketing campaign.

Cygler got his start in business working at a car-rental business launched by his father, who owned a Brooklyn auto-repair shop. Cygler grew the business, Allcar Rent A Car, to a fleet of 2,000 vehicles and also launched a car-sharing service, Carpingo, in 2012. He sold his auto-rental businesses in 2015 to Entertprise Rent-A-Car. Cygler served on the board of the American Car Rental Association and is co-chair of the chamber’s government-affairs committee.

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Outgoing chamber chair Denise Arbesu (to the right of cake, with arm raised) at the chamber’s centennial gala

During Arbesu’s tenure, the chamber grew its membership to more than 2,000 members, celebrated its centennial gala, launched Brooklyn Alliance Capital to lend money to small business, and was named “Chamber of the Year” by the Business Council of New York State. “I am extremely honored to have broken through the ‘glass ceiling’ and be the first, not only woman, but a minority–Latina and immigrant from Cuba–to have served as your Chair. I believe this is truly reflective of where Brooklyn is today,” Arbesu said in a press release announcing the change.

Arbesu added that the chamber “is well underway on our search for our new President and CEO.” The job came open when Hoan decamped for Portland, Ore., where his wife, a doctor, took a position in obstetrics and gynecology at the Portland Clinic. Before the family moved, Hoan was hired to be the new CEO of the Portland Business Alliance.

The chamber’s acting president is Rick Russo, who has had a four-decade career in economic development in Brooklyn.

In signing off, Arbesu declared: “Brooklyn is now the hottest brand in the world and all of our efforts together at the Chamber have made this possible! This is something we all need to be proud of and exhibit that great Brooklyn character and swagger.”