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Maribel Carrion has been with the Quinnipiac Chamber for more than two decades, helping plan countless events and supporting local businesses. (Photo courtesy of Maribel Carrion )
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Nearly 21 years ago, Maribel Carrion was hired at the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce, which supports businesses in North Haven and Wallingford. She has seen the chamber grow and technology advance over the years, but the favorite part of her job has remained the same.
“I like working with a non-profit organization and being able to help our members grow their businesses,” says Maribel, who worked for Aetna prior to joining the chamber staff. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people in the community throughout the years and getting to know the members.”
When Maribel started working with the chamber, she did administrative work. In 2013, the Quinnipiac Chamber became an affiliate of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and Maribel was promoted to operations manager. As affiliates, the Quinnipiac Chamber and New Haven Chamber work closely together.
As the operations manager, Maribel is responsible for accounts payable, assists with budgets, helps run the office, and helps plan events. She works in an office in Wallingford with Dee Nesti, the executive director, and Gary Ciarleglio, the director of sales and marketing. She and Nesti have worked together for 14 years and she and Ciarleglio have worked five years. There is also an intern.
“We’ve been working together for a long time and we’re like a family,” says Maribel. “When I came here, it was the first time I started working with smaller businesses and it feels more like a family versus in a larger organizations. The members become more like family.”
Maribel has met many business owners over the years, seeing them benefit from being members of the chamber. She notes that businesses can take advantage of advertising opportunities through the newsletter, website, sponsorships, and social media, as well as networking events.
“A lot of people like to do business with people they know so one way to get your name out there is joining the chamber,” says Maribel. “Being part of the Chamber gives you a feeling you can trust.”
Over the years, Maribel has worked on the committees of countless events alongside the chamber staff and representatives from local businesses. She enjoys getting to know the members through planning events and coming up with different ideas.
Maribel and Nesti also work closely as they serve on the committees for each event. The pair is responsible for securing a date and location for events, booking speakers, sending invitations, finding sponsors, and more. They also get to be creative in coming up with themes for different events.
The next event the chamber is hosting is a Business After Hours that will not only offer networking opportunities, but a chance to celebrate the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce’s 30-year anniversary.
The event will be held on Thursday, March 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Twelve Percent Beer Project, 341 State Street, North Haven. Admission is free to members and $20 for non-members and includes small bites and beer tastings.
“It’s an anniversary celebration as well as a grand opening for a new brewery,” says Maribel. “It’s a nice opportunity for networking and checking out a new business.”
Maribel also enjoys planning special events with her favorite being what is now called the Women’s Achievement Awards. The Quinnipiac Chamber was the first Chamber in Connecticut to adopt the awards, which was originally called the Athena Awards. Maribel has been involved in planning the event since 2001 when it began.
“When we started, we would honor one woman in business, but since becoming an affiliate, we’ve been able to honor five or six in different categories each year,” says Maribel. “It’s nice to see women in business honored.”
The Women’s Achievement Awards are held annually in October, a month in which the chamber also support Breast Cancer Awareness through different events. Many of the events run by the chamber are held annually.
Now Maribel and a committee are busy planning a casino-themed Business Showcase, which will be held on Tuesday, April 7 from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Best Western Plus in North Haven. The event has run for more than 25 years.
At the 2020 Business Showcase, there will be more than 50 vendors participating. The event is preceded by a Women in Networking Luncheon. There will also be speed networking, casino-themed games, tastings from area restaurants, and more.
“What I will enjoy the most is when we are able to help businesses connect with each other for future opportunities,” says Maribel. “People attending the event will enjoy being able to network with one another in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Looking ahead, Maribel is “really excited” about celebrating the Town of Wallingford’s 350th anniversary with an event on the campus of Gaylord Speciality Healthcare with a farm-to-table event.
Outside of work, Maribel enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband of 30 years, Angel, and their 16-year-old son Brandon.
“My son keeps me busy with sports so there’s a lot of driving and I have great sisters who help out if I have a work event,” says Maribel. “We also like to travel and go out to eat. I love music and I love to dance. Maybe I’ll take lessons when my son is older.”
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