January 9, 2018

Chamber head postpones retirement amid successor search delay

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
New Haven Chamber of Commerce President Anthony "Tony" Rescigno.

Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Rescigno's retirement will have to wait a little longer.

With the chamber still mulling a successor, Rescigno has agreed to stay on until a decision is made, he and chamber Chairwoman Jennifer DelMonico said late last week. A new president was supposed to take office by the end of last month when Rescigno was originally slated to step down.

"He (Rescigno) is committed to making sure this is a seamless transition and has been very cooperative and generous with his time," DelMonico said.

DelMonico attributed the delay to the fact that three groups – the search committee, the executive committee and the full board – are all participating in the search.

"It takes some time to work through the process in a meaningful way," she said.

DelMonico declined to say how much longer the search might take, but Rescigno said he expects to remain on the job at least another 30 to 60 days.

"I'm just happy that they are being very deliberate and making sure whoever they get is going to be the right person," said Rescigno, who has led the chamber for the past 17 years.

The delay comes after a candidate recommended by the search committee withdrew. Fred McKinney, a longtime community leader who now directs minority-business enterprise programs for Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, said he orally agreed to salary and benefit terms in November but decided to withdraw after learning there had been a negative reaction within the chamber to a column he posted on his LinkedIn page. In the piece, McKinney cited white supremacy as the root cause of tensions between the United States and North Korea.

McKinney told New Haven Biz in an email last month that questions about the article were a factor, but not the sole factor, in his decision to withdraw, adding that he realized he could "help business communities like New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, Bridgeport and others more from the outside than the inside."

Asked last week about McKinney's decision to withdraw, DelMonico said he had done so for "personal reasons."

"We wish him the best," DelMonico said. "We continue to have a very good relationship and a very good collaboration with him."

Rescigno dismissed any concerns that the chamber was in any way in limbo as the search for a new president stretches out longer than expected. The organization's outstanding employees will keep everything running smoothly in the interim, he said.

"I have total confidence in them," he said. "They won't miss a beat."

A successful businessman and longtime first selectman of North Haven, Rescigno took over as chamber president in 2000. During his tenure, the chamber's membership doubled, and the city's economy rebounded thanks to strong growth in the biotech, education and medical fields.

A self-confessed workaholic, Rescigno, 72, has expressed ambivalence about retiring. He routinely puts in 10- to 12-hour days at the chamber, a job he has said he loves.

The upside of the delay in hiring a successor is that it gives him more time to get used to the idea of retirement, Rescigno said last week.

"I've worked my entire life, so even thinking about retiring is a scary thought," Rescigno said. "This sort of bridges it a little bit."

Christopher Hoffman can be reached at news@newhavenbiz.com

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