Chamber Corner

New 2023 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Brings Diversity to Alexandria

New Chairperson and Six New Members Named to Leadership

2023 ALX Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Nicole McGrew/photo from Threadleaf & Company

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has proudly announced its new 2023 leadership team which will pave the path for a stellar year ahead. 

Chamber President and CEO Joe Haggerty couldn’t be any happier with the new members.

ALX Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Joe Haggerty/all photos courtesy of ALX Chamber

 

 

“They represent a widespread diversity of businesses. We’ve got smaller businesses – a restaurant owner, larger employers, and nonprofit organizations – so that definitely adds to the diversity of our board. They are also leaders who are deeply involved in their communities, they have a good sense of community needs, and the right approaches that we should take for the future,” said Haggerty.

 

The New Chair 

Nicole McGrew, 2023 ALX Chamber Chair of the Board

Nicole McGrew has been chosen as the Chamber’s new Chair of the Board. McGrew is the founder and owner of Threadleaf & Company, a women’s lifestyle boutique focused on responsibly-made, fashion-forward clothing and accessories. Located in Old Town since 2018, the shop has been recognized by several media outlets, including Southern Living, Northern Virginia Magazine, the Washingtonian, the Alexandria Times, and NBC News, and has become a destination shop for women looking for the best in ethical fashion.  

A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, McGrew practiced law in the area of criminal law and policy for 12 years prior to opening Threadleaf – as an associate at Morrison & Foerster, an Assistant General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, and as Deputy General Counsel at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama Administration.  

In addition to operating Threadleaf, McGrew currently serves on the board of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the board’s Governance Sub-Committee. She is also on the Visit Alexandria Board of Governors and the board of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. McGrew is also a 2021 graduate of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program and is the recipient of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce 2019 Best in Business: Rising Star Award.

The 2023 new Board Members which were selected are, in alphabetical order:

Michael Babin

Michael Babin, of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. In 1997, Babin opened the Evening Star Cafe in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, and a year later opened Planet Wine, an adjoining wine shop. Since that time, he has opened over 26 hospitality and retail concepts including fast-casual and white tablecloth restaurants, bakeries and bars, a brewery, a multi-tenant food hall, and many others, all under the auspices of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG). 

NRG’s award-winning restaurants have been featured in a host of publications ranging from the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine locally, to the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and many others nationally. Babin has been named Best Restaurateur/Restaurateur of the Year by Washingtonian, CityPaper, and by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. 

Ten years ago, he founded Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to making the regional food system healthier and more equitable for all. Babin has served as a board member of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and of Think Local First, and he currently serves on the board of Consortium Management Group. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a commission as an officer in the US Army Signal Corps, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Sunny Blanco

Sunny Blanco, of United Bank, has over 20 years of experience in the banking industry. Her entire career has been dedicated to building relationships and providing personalized service to each and every one of her clients. Currently, Blanco supports commercial clients with their deposit and treasury management needs in the Arlington/Alexandria markets. Blanco earned a B.S. degree at The College of William and Mary and graduated from the University of Virginia Bank School of Management. Blanco is also on the board of The Arc of Northern Virginia which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and on the PWN Steering Committee of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.  

Jatrice Martel Gaiter

Jatrice Martel Gaiter, of Volunteers of America, builds national awareness, public policy alliances, and support for the nonprofit’s mission to provide housing and services nationwide. She provides leadership and strategic oversight of the billion-dollar organization’s public policy, financial development, and communications and marketing initiatives. 

Gaiter currently serves on the Generations United Board of Directors, George Mason University MPA Advisory Board, the Generosity Commission Government Relations & Policy Task Force, and the NonProfit Vote Leadership Council. She is also a member of the MetroStage Board of Directors. Gaiter is past board chair of the National Human Services Assembly, and a former member of the Independent Sector board’s Public Policy Committee. 

She has served as CEO at two nonprofits, and worked in public policy, fundraising, and branding at Michigan State University and United Way, both at the national office and two affiliates. She served on the founding national board of the Coalition of 100 Black Women and is member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Gaiter earned a B.A. in government from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate from the Syracuse University College of Law.  Gaiter has been the recipient of “Washingtonian of Year” from Washingtonian magazine, and was named one of the “Women Who Mean Business” by Washington Business Journal. She is a champion of the nonprofit sector who blogs, writes opinion pieces, and tweets as @MsNonprofit.

Melonie Johnson

Melonie Johnson, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of MGM National Harbor, is a graduate of the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. In this role, she is responsible for leading the Executive Committee in developing the strategic direction and along with overseeing daily operations. Johnson’s gaming and hospitality career spans nearly 25 years, during which she held key leadership positions at major properties throughout the United States. 

She has been with MGM Resorts since 2015, serving most recently as President & COO of Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Mississippi. While there, she set a strong tone by creating a service-oriented culture and developing a strategic plan that ensured the property met its short- and long-term goals. Gold Strike displayed record performance under Johnson’s leadership and played a key role in driving the Company’s regional success. 

Her decades of leadership experience at regional gaming properties — along with her financial expertise and strategic thinking — has served her well in a number of very impressive gaming position such as, Assistant General Manager at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, CFO/Interim General Manager at Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois, and as Regional Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Finance for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, among other roles. Johnson and her husband, Mark, share six children and five grandchildren.

Lisa Katic

Lisa Katic, owner of Wine Gallery 108, which is a 5-star, boutique wine shop in Old Town featuring fine wines (organic, sustainable, natural) craft beer, gourmet foods, local art and handcrafted gifts.  She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. Katic has recently transformed the store in a complete aesthetic redesign of her former location and offers weekly, sought-after wine tastings.

 

Garrett McGuire

Garrett McGuire is the Regional Director for External and Legislative Affairs for AT&T in Virginia. In this role, McGuire helps advocate for company priorities at the state and local level in the Commonwealth, while also promoting AT&T’s work in the community. McGuire has been instrumental in AT&T’s 5G rollout throughout Virginia, helping educate lawmakers and the community about 5G technology and infrastructure. 

Prior to AT&T, McGuire has worked for elected leaders in a legislative and campaign role at the local, state, and federal level, and led state government relations advocacy for a trade association representing a sector of American manufacturing. McGuire is Chair of the Fairfax – Falls Church Community Service Board and sits on the Board of Directors for United Community, a nonprofit serving the Route 1 Corridor of Fairfax County, the Northern Virginia Urban League, and the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce. 

McGuire was named a “40 under 40” recipient in Alexandria for 2020 and by Leadership Arlington in 2016. He holds an undergraduate and master’s degree from Virginia Tech. McGuire and his wife, Meghan, live in Alexandria, with their daughter, Sloan, and dog, Cassie.

[SEE ALSO: Join the 2023 Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade]

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