By Jenna Lennon
During his time with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, executive director David Woods is most proud of the new signs welcoming people to the Three Villages and Stony Brook University, placed around the community and along Nicolls Road.
“Before they went up, I can remember, for example, one of the former directors of the university hospital was talking at one of the chamber meetings, and he said that it had taken him an hour and a half to get from the airport to the university,” Woods said in a phone interview.
The former university hospital director flew into the airport in Islip, just twenty or so minutes from Stony Brook, but he drove around for another hour trying to find the university and its community, according to Woods.
“One of the things that I never would have thought of is putting up a sign like that because in the days where I first came to the community to work for the university, there was a sort of invisible fence between the campus and the community,” Woods said. “There would have been opposition. And those beautiful signs have helped a lot.”
Now after nearly 10 years with the chamber, Woods is retiring on June 30 at the end of the organization’s fiscal year.
Charles Lefkowitz, vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, worked with Woods nearly his entire time with the chamber.
Woods has “a unique style and passion to bring the business community together. He was never afraid to try something new or even borderline what would be deemed outrageous,” Lefkowitz said.
Woods started with the chamber after retiring from the “regular work world” and having just finished his novel “Buffalo Snow Day” — “a sort of comic novel about Buffalo turning into Aspen.”
Woods spent 17 years as assistant to the president at Stony Brook University. For 20 years after that, he worked in Manhattan “in marketing communications as secretary of the New York City Press Club, the Deadline Club, doing things like introducing the hit board game Pictionary and then an unknown new radio talk show host, now for better or worse a household name, Rush Limbaugh.”
When the chamber needed a manager, they called Woods.
“It was, still is, a great job because we were sitting here like ships passing in the night, our historic community on one side of the railroad tracks, Stony Brook University making new history on the other side and convergence clearly needed,” Woods said. “Since then, leaders on both sides of the tracks have been bringing our two worlds together and doing a lot of it at the monthly chamber meetings.”
Andy Polan, chamber president alongside Woods for the last four years said Woods’ “historical knowledge of the community is pretty amazing from the university to the local history.”
Polan is looking to fill the vacancy with someone who is outgoing, social media-savvy and “interested in developing the chamber to grow to our next level.”
Woods and his wife, Desiree, are taking some time off to go upstate to his hometown of Dunkirk on Lake Erie with their daughter and granddaughter for a family reunion.
Woods will keep in contact with the chamber and continue to support the new director for the upcoming 18th annual chamber beach barbecue, a networking event in July.
For now, Lefkowitz will miss Woods’ “smile and grin at the other side of the table.”
Interested applicants for the executive director position with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce should send their resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.