Goldberg named Brattleboro Chamber's Person of the Year

BRATTLEBORO -- It was a match made in heaven. Take a semi-retired New York City advertising executive and move him to a small southeastern Vermont town that was looking to market itself as an arts destination.

Throw in a rapidly changing Internet and communication landscape, a Main Street that was looking to reinvent itself and the challenge of navigating it all through a sluggish national economy and you would think the Chamber of Commerce director would turn over nine times in eight years.

But for those eight years Jerry Goldberg and the town of Brattleboro have been making beautiful music together.

And Friday night Goldberg's work for the chamber, and for the town, was recognized as he was given the 2013 Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award.

The honor was a surprise to Goldberg, who has announced his retirement and will be stepping down as chamber director at the end of this year.

"It's been such a blast working for Brattleboro," Goldberg said after the surprise announcement was made Friday at World Learning. "You guys took a chance on me. It's been about the best job I've ever had."

Goldberg said over the past eight years he would look over the list of Persons of the Year and think about what each one did to deserve the honor.

"I wondered what it was about those people that made the community stand up and recognize them," Goldberg said. "I thought there must have been something that they did for this community. Quite frankly I never anticipated that I would be standing up here tonight."

Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Board President Stephanie Huestis said it was easy for the board to come up with this year's Person of the Year.

"The board thought there was no better way to recognize Jerry's years of service and what he has meant to this community outside of the work he has done for the chamber," Huestis said. "His commitment to Brattleboro has always been above and beyond what it means to be executive director of the chamber."

Goldberg served as a Brooks Memorial Library Trustee from 1999 to 2006 and has been a member of Sunrise Rotary since 2008.

During the past seven years he has served on the boards of Building a Better Brattleboro, Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, Brattleboro Community Television and is on the advisory committee of the Brattleboro Film Festival.

Goldberg was also the first representative from the Vermont Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives to sit on the Vermont Downtown Development Board, which he did from 2008 to 2013.

"These are not things Jerry has to do as chamber director. He did this to reinvest in the community," Huestis said. "The chamber Person of the Year is someone who is actively involved in making this a better town and it was a no-brainer for the board to choose Jerry this year."

Goldberg moved to Vermont in 1996 after leaving a 23-year career in marketing and advertising at CBS in New York.

After working almost 10 years at the School for International Training, he was convinced to apply for the open position of Executive Director of the chamber in 2005.

"This community has been so encouraging. So admiring," Goldberg said. "I'm not a competitive kind of guy and I'm not used to being acknowledged this so publicly. I am touched and moved and this is an evening I shall never forget."

The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce named its first Person of the Year in 1954 to recognize an individual who did something special that year of who had demonstrated a consistent course of contribution to the community.

Harold Putnam was given the first award in 1954.

Lynn Barrett, president of Primetime Concepts, has worked with Goldberg on countless marketing and promotional campaigns over the past eight years and she said Goldberg's commitment to his job, and to Brattleboro, was at the forefront of every project.

Goldberg developed the "One and Only Brattleboro," campaign, worked with Building a Better Brattleboro on projects promoting the holidays and buying local, and helped strengthen Brattleboro's marketing connections with other towns in the region.

Among his proudest achievements, he said, has been his development of the chamber's Skills for Success Scholarship in 2009 which has given out about $15,000 in scholarships to local high school graduates.

"His love for Brattleboro comes out in everything that he does," Barrett said. "He is a very special person. He's got a big heart and he really cares about people."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer


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