December: Small Businesses
During the holiday season, ABNY encourages the support of small and local businesses. Small businesses strengthen New York City’s economy, anchor communities, create jobs, and add to the vibrancy of our City’s neighborhoods.
Congratulations to our December Spotlights of the month Destany Batista and Gregrory Kirsopp for their hard work promoting, protecting, and starting small businesses!
I have a background in community organizing and government/politics, which really laid the groundwork in connecting with many different types of constituencies and stakeholders. It all started with an internship at the Department of Small Business Services that I had when I was 17 years old. I was tasked with conducting research on the small business environment of College Point, Queens. Since then, I’ve worked for all levels of government offices or campaigns to better represent diverse communities and commercial corridors.
I have a genuine passion for the work I do, meaning I have authentic conversations with small business owners every day. I try my best to cultivate close relationships in any environment I help represent, and I can genuinely say that this is the case for the small business community in lower Manhattan.
Volunteer in your community and get involved in a campaign you strongly believe in, whether its a political or issue-based campaign. Communicating with people in uncomfortable situations, like knocking on someone’s front door in the rain and a pamphlet in hand, can really teach you valuable lessons about what you believe in and how to get things done.
I was born and raised in New York, but I’m reminded of my roots whenever I visit another city and feel the need to speed walk everywhere I go, even when I don’t have plans.
Gregory J. Kirsopp
I had a rather unique journey to arriving at my current role. Both of my parents work as Broadway Stage Managers on the Musical “Wicked.” Growing up, I was immersed in the Arts and, for a time, pursued that as my intended career. I attended a performing arts high school in Manhattan with a concentration in vocal performance. Around sophomore year, I had become deeply enthralled with civics and began to shift my focus towards pursuing a career in government. I applied to a few internships and, at least at the time, was selected as the youngest intern ever taken to work on Capitol Hill, at the age of 13. From my first day, I knew that public service was the path I wanted to pursue.
In the fall of 2018 I saw a job posting for an opportunity to work alongside the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce. I jumped at the opportunity to apply and, upon coming onboard, rose to the position of Assistant Political Director within a year.
Working at the Chamber broadened my parameters of what public service means and where the intersect of politics and business truly meet. I accredit my time with the Chamber as some of the most developmental for me in defining my career. Under the guidance of the Chamber President and the Executive Director I have been proud to advocate for some incredible causes on behalf of our membership base. From working with our President and AG Letitia James to solidify a 36 million dollar settlement for small business to working alongside major Broadway organizations such as Playbill and the Broadway League to advocate for the safe reopening of theater when the COVID pandemic struck, my time at the Chamber has been incredibly fulfilling and I truly see the President and Executive Director as a second family.
I think the best advice would be to be willing to put yourself out there, even if you may be timid at first. Working at the Chamber, we host, help organize, and attend a ton of networking events. Putting yourself out there, working a room, and shaking hand is a major caveat of the job. It’s intimidating at times to go to an event, independently, and try to introduce yourself to strangers, but I am thankful that I pushed myself to do so and would urge others to do the same.
My parents are originally for Pittsburgh and the bulk of our family still lives in Pennsylvania. As the only member of my family born and raised in NYC, since a young age, I’ve always noted the differences in urgency, priorities, goals, etc. when speaking with some of my extended family. As a lifelong New Yorker, you come to see the city as part of your being. Whether it be in discussions, presentations, or even arguments, you know you’re a real New Yorker when the city itself becomes more than just the place where you live but an innate part of your identity.