Date: October 7, 2022
Contact: Audrey Schwartzberg, ANCA Communications Officer,,

Clarkson University’s Kelly Chezum Elected First Woman Chair at ANCA

Board of Directors announces slate of officers, welcomes new member Antonio DeSpirito

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. — The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) Board of Directors has
announced the election of Kelly Chezum, vice president of external relations at Clarkson University, as
the regional economic nonprofit’s next chair. The vote makes Chezum the first woman to serve as board
president in ANCA’s 67-year history.

The ANCA board also confirmed a new slate of officers and one new board member at their quarterly
meeting on September 23. The meeting directly preceded ANCA’s annual meeting at The Wild Center,
where over 120 people gathered to learn about the organization’s current programming and impacts.
In addition to Chezum, officers include Noah Shaw of Foley Hoag LLP as vice president; J. Daniel Mohr of
Adirondack Bank as treasurer; and Katie Malinowski of Tug Hill Commission as secretary. Antonio
DeSpirito, managing director of BlackRock and chief investment officer of its U.S. Fundamental Active
Equity program, was elected as ANCA’s newest board member.

“We are so grateful to have Kelly at the helm during this exciting time at ANCA,” said ANCA Executive
Director, Elizabeth Cooper. “During her 11 years on our board, Kelly has been an instrumental team
member who consistently demonstrates remarkable leadership, insight and open-mindedness. She is a
strong leader and positive example for our board and staff as we work together to grow economic
opportunities throughout the Adirondack North Country.”

Chezum joined the ANCA board in 2011 and has served as its vice president for the past seven years
alongside outgoing chair Jim Sonneborn. She has over 25 years of experience as a creative marketing
professional and administrator in the public, private, nonprofit and government sectors.

In addition to her volunteer leadership role at ANCA, she served as past Education Program Chair for
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) at the United Nations, where she received WED’s Education
Pioneer Award in 2016. She is a member of the Adirondack Global Sports Commission, whose planning
has advanced international tourism opportunities like the International Children’s Games and 2023
World University Games. She is also a director for the Public Policy Institute for the New York State
Business Council and a member of the Education Committee for the New York State Economic
Development Corporation and serves on several local chamber boards. Chezum’s professional
experience includes marketing, book and magazine publishing, direct mail campaigns, public relations,
grant writing and strategic planning. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Carroll University in Wisconsin
and an M.B.A. from Clarkson University. She earned a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern
University in Massachusetts. Chezum lives with her husband and son in Canton, N.Y.

“The Adirondack North Country is a special place for residents and visitors alike,” said Chezum. “ANCA’s
energetic team collaborates with local communities to have a positive economic impact. It’s an
organization that makes a real difference. As a board member supporting ANCA’s mission, it’s important
to me — as a parent as well as a colleague and local business patron — that we have opportunities to
advance the quality of life for our friends and neighbors, and create opportunity and prosperity for
future generations.”

DeSpirito brings over 25 years of experience in financial and portfolio management to ANCA’s board. In
addition to his role at BlackRock, he is a visiting lecturer at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of
Management. Prior to joining BlackRock in 2014, he served as managing principal, portfolio manager and
executive committee member at Pzena Investment Management. He also served as an attorney with
Ropes & Gray LLP. DeSpirito earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in finance
from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law

“I am honored to serve on ANCA’s board. As a business person and a long term part-time resident of the
Adirondack Park, I look forward to supporting ANCA’s mission of growing the North Country economy in
ways that serve the businesses and people who make our communities strong,” said DeSpirito. “It was
wonderful to see at the annual meeting the range of impact that ANCA is already having. I am excited to
help advance this work across the region.”

The September 23 meeting marked term limits for long-time board members Phil Giltner and Michele
Ledoux, who were awarded resolutions in recognition of their service. Giltner, who works in New York
State’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, has served for three consecutive three-year
terms since 2013. Ledoux, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County, served
on ANCA’s board for three terms from 2009 to 2018 and an additional term from 2019 to 2022. Outgoing
board chair Jim Sonneborn will continue to serve on the board one more year to support the leadership

“This is an exciting time for ANCA where we are seeing broad reach and impact from our work in local
food systems, small businesses, clean energy and equity and inclusion. This momentum is due in large
part to the support of a dedicated board of directors,” said Cooper. “We are grateful to Phil, Michele and
Jim for their years of service, and welcome Tony to this exceptional team.”
ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity
across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses,
and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value
in local communities.

Attached: one (1) PDF and two (2) photos

Photo 1: Kelly Chezum, vice president of external relations at Clarkson University, is ANCA’s new board

Photo 2: Antonio DeSpirito, managing director of BlackRock, has joined ANCA’s board of directors.