Chamber President Aposporos leaving post
Editor & Publisher
Credited with rebranding and refocusing the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, Tom Aposporos, the organization’s President since 2009, will step down from his position before the end of 2012.
For many connected with the Island’s business community and many in Town Hall, his departure will create a vacuum due to his constant willingness and ability to take part in and help tackle difficult tasks within the community.
“He is extremely energetic, organized, helpful, courteous — he works so hard,” said Mayor Jim Brown. “He will be missed and I hope to see his efforts continued. When you ask Tom to do something, he does it and not in a small way,” Brown added.
Aposporos said he plans to run for the Commission on Anna Maria Island and reconnect with his business pursuits. He also said he will be available to help the Chamber in some of its efforts in an ongoing basis.
Aposporos originally assumed the post following the departure of former Chamber President Gail Loefgren. He intended to be an interim President. He was later asked by the Board to serve on a permanent basis.
Bob Gault, Longboat Key resident and past President of Longboat Key’s Kiwanis Club, said that Aposporos has done an outstanding job representing business in the Longboat community and an excellent job leading the Chamber.
Gault and his wife, Shannon, retired to the Key in 2006, and Gault had a 42-year career in the entertainment park industry.
“We need businesses to sustain and provide services to our island’s residents. Tom had a great relationship with town staff and commissioners. He has a real understanding of the importance of a healthy business community and he fought hard for that community,” said Gault.
Shannon Gault believes a leadership vacuum has been created by the vacancies left by Aposporos and Longboat Key Club Manager Michael Welly.
“The Island needs so much work. With the Colony debacle, which will go on for a longtime. We, our island, needs to go up instead of sideways,” said Shannon.
Andrew Vac, former three-time President of Chamber himself, said with Gail Loefgren at the Chamber for 17 years it was operated and represented in Loefgren’s mode, and Aposporos did it in Tom’s mode, which was different.
“Tom put control back into board of directors and made the chamber play a larger role in community and government and local community,” said Vac. Vac also credited Aposporos for being at virtually every meeting, everywhere.
For Vac, the direction the Chamber must go is to build on its value and commitment to the small businesses.
“This chamber has always been what we call a small business oriented chamber and we’ll have to continue in that game. It will have to show more value to membership for the members. I am a big, big chamber believer. Whoever steps in Tom’s place has to impress upon the membership the value to the organization. Tom was at every breakfast and luncheon and event,” said Vac.
Upon hearing of the news, Commissioner Phil Younger wrote Aposporos, “You have brought untold value to Longboat Key and our neighbors via your role with the Chamber of Commerce. You will definitely be missed, and I am very sorry to see you go. It’s a sad time for us…”
Commissioner Jack Duncan also expressed his emotions at the leaving of a man who in a short time became central to many activities and initiatives within the Town.
“Just a note of congratulations, happiness, thanks, surprise and sorrow.
Happiness–I’m really happy for you as you continue to realize the dreams and adventures that make us who we are.
Thanks–for all that you do for Longboat Key and the surrounding community. You have been a tireless advocate for Longboat Key and we owe you a true debt of gratitude.
Surprise–Only because you are a fixture in all the good things that go on in this community and I can’t imagine an event here that will not have your hand in it.
Sorrow–Only on a personal front, I will miss your day to day involvement in all that you do to make Longboat Key a better place to live and I will miss your sound advise–which like it or not, I will continue to seek.
Sooooooooooo–Congratulations on your next great adventure. I know you will be close by–but I will miss you just the same,” wrote Duncan.
Aposporos first advised the board in July that he “had a lifetime of things he still wanted to do and his years were likely more than half lived.”
Chairman of the Chamber James Seaton said the Board understood from the outset that Tom would not be here forever.
“We are pleased that he has expressed a willingness to continue to serve the Chamber part-time after his tenure as President, managing special projects or representing us in public or governmental affairs,” said Seaton. Seaton added that “the Board continues to evaluate the mission of the Chamber and we are looking forward to ideal ways to serve our members and the greater community.”
A former four-term Mayor of Poughkeepsie, New York, and twice Chair of the Charter Review Commission of the City of Anna Maria as well as a City Commissioner there, Aposporos is by business career a licensed real estate broker in Florida and New York.
Following his terms as Mayor of Poughkeepsie, he was elected to the Board of Directors of a publicly-traded bank holding company, Progressive Bank, Inc., and subsequently served as Chairman of the Board of the company as the value of its stock shares increased and the company was merged into a larger one and then sold.
Aposporos was trained early in life as a stage actor and has worked professionally locally and in New York. In 2005, he helped found a theatre company in Florida, Theatre Odyssey, which primarily produces new plays by emerging writers.
The Board of Directors will develop a succession plan over the next 30 days.
“The Chamber has two very capable employees currently. In addition to Tom, Dawn Mims serves as Executive Vice President and has been with the Chamber since 2007,” said Seaton.