Power Player Marissa Brett To Lead The WCA Into The Future

Why do you think you are the right person to lead the WCA today? What strengths do you bring to the role?

MB: I was brought on board almost three years ago to lead a new economic development initiative at the Westchester County Association – The BLUEPRINT for Westchester. Over the past few years we have built tremendous momentum around that initiative, yet, there is so much more to be done. My plan is to build on the momentum and continue driving economic development in our region. This region has tremendous opportunity and the time is now to take advantage and create economic vitality. 

When making the announcement the of your new role, the WCA said it was “restructuring in response to dramatic marketplace changes.” What are those dramatic changes in the marketplace?

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MB: The growth industries of today are very different from those of the past.  Today’s growth industry is in the innovation economy. Our region is seeing tremendous growth from the entrepreneurial, technology and healthcare sectors, especially as the New York metro region becomes the nation’s most important hub in the new economy.  The professional service firms that have such a significant presence in our county will all benefit from these growing industries as well. We are working to update our strategic plan for the organization to ensure we are addressing the market needs of our business community. 

How will it work with you as President and Bill Mooney as CEO – what will each of your roles be moving forward?

MB: I have the best possible scenario with Bill Mooney remaining in place as CEO. I have the opportunity to lead the organization knowing that I have Bill’s guidance and expertise whenever needed. Bill is what I would consider a true power broker in the community and having him remain tied to our organization is a tremendous asset.    

What are some of your goals as the new president? Can you share any specific initiatives or areas of focus that you want to bring more attention to?

MB: My goal is to continue to build on the momentum that our economic development initiative has been driving. We will continue to focus on promoting the health tech industry to attract new business.  We will continue to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the county and build upon our BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network.  We need to accelerate the growth of that program as it has the power to make a significant impact in this community.  We are currently working on building our new strategic plan for the organization so there will be more details to come. 

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What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Westchester’s business community?

 MB: The obvious challenges include high taxes and cost of doing business in this region. Additionally, we need to have places where young professionals want to and can afford to live. We need to ensure we are retaining the intellectual capital that we are educating in order to attract and retain businesses. I have heard from many organizations recently that they are having a very tough time filling open positions.  We need to address those issues. Also, we often find our county works in silos and we need to break down the walls and continue to foster collaboration. 

How do we overcome these challenges? 

MB: The best way to overcome the challenges facing Westchester is through collaboration.  We need to work together not only as a business community but also with elected officials to come up with actual solutions.  When many great minds come together, many great ideals and solutions are formed. 

Conversely, what are Westchester’s biggest strengths as a business community? And how can we build on those strengths to create even greater successes here?

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MB: Our greatest strength as a business community is the commitment and passion that is felt for our community. We have tremendous thought leaders in the region and continuing to bring them together to create meaningful solutions is sure to continue bringing Westchester great success.

Do you have a personal philosophy on leadership? What do you think makes a great leader? 

MB: A great leader has a great team!  Leadership is not just about what the leader can do but rather what the leader can inspire and encourage others to do. I believe strongly in bringing out the best in people and encouraging them to always reach for more for themselves. I have had the privilege to work under several great leaders, both men and women. All pushed me to push myself and all of them had a tremendous team surrounding them!

Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

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