Nantucket Chamber of Commerce Names Peter Burke New President & CEO

Cisco Brewers Operating Partner Tapped To Head Island's Leading Business Organization

The Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce has tapped a familiar face to become its next leader. 

Peter Burke was named the Chamber’s new President and CEO on Thursday. For Burke, a former island resident who worked for 14 years with Cisco Brewers, his new gig will be a homecoming of sorts. 

Peter Burke

After several years spearheading Cisco’s new outpost in Portsmouth, NH, as an operating partner, Burke told the Current last night that he is excited to return to Nantucket and build upon the many relationships he forged during his previous time on the island. 

“Having been on Nantucket before, it’s an addicting environment to work in where everyone is collectively working to be the best they can for their business and there are so many pioneering entrepreneurs,” Burke said. “How do you not want to be part of that community?”

He’ll be bringing many lessons learned from the business venture in New Hampshire, he said, including the challenges it faced in navigating the pandemic. The Chamber’s leadership post, which came open last spring, was brought to Burke’s attention by some of his close friends who are still on the island. 

“The roles and responsibilities piqued a lot of interest on a personal level – it’s the business of business and a lot of networking,” Burke said. “I looked to the Chamber up here as a guiding force when the pandemic hit. It exposed me to a new side of the business world which was really interesting.”

For the Chamber, Burke’s appointment comes after a series of leadership changes over the past two years since the departure of former President and CEO David Martin. That included brief stints by Kristie Ferrantella, interim leader Melissa Murphy, and most recently Robin Kirk. Despite that turnover, Burke had high praise for the Chamber’s performance during the pandemic in assisting island businesses, as well as its current staff members including business manager Shantaw Bloise. 

“What I’ve seen from afar, it looked like they did a great job during COVID providing recommendations and resources,” Burke said. “It’s very clear the people at the Chamber, the staff and board members, have shown an absolute commitment to the business community and there was an excitement in the interview process. The current Chamber makeup there was abuzz about how we can make this better. They’re anxious to make sure it’s moving forward and I’m excited to work the group that’s there.”

Burke added that he is looking forward to using his skillset to bring in underrepresented business groups into the Chamber, and understanding how the organization can expand upon its 700-plus membership base. He’s also aware that that all the signs are pointing toward another big season on Nantucket, even as some businesses are still facing staff challenges. 

“If you look at the things that indicate a business season, it’s going to be gangbusters season and that’s  awesome, that’s the first step to having a successful business,” Burke said. “So step one complete Obviously the other side we are dancing around is housing, businesses need employees and employees need a place to live. The Chamber needs to listen to its business members and to what they say they need.”

As for his own housing situation, Burke said he had a place lined up for the season, and would be looking at other options following the summer. 

In its formal announcement of Burke’s appointment as President and CEO, the Chamber lauded his business experience and relationships, coupled with his knowledge of Nantucket’s industries, made him the clear choice among a field of highly qualified applicants.  

“Burke’s existing close relationships with many in the island’s business community as well as residents, familiarity with Nantucket, having lived and worked on Nantucket for years signaled that he is already immensely qualified and will be a great addition to the team,” the Chamber stated. “The Board felt that the combination of Burke’s education, business acumen and savvy, hospitality background, entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm, extensive experience in large event development and management plus a strong desire to return to Nantucket collectively made him keenly qualified to lead the Chamber.”

Burke starts on the job on April 11, just two weeks before the Chamber’s signature Daffodil Festival Weekend events. 

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