John Gregory

President & CEO
Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
As the President/CEO of the Northern RI Chamber since 1992, John Gregory is the longest serving chamber CEO in Rhode Island and one of the longest in New England. John had the courage to take over the Chamber when it was on the brink of insolvency. Working together with the Board of Directors and staff, John developed an action plan that brought the chamber into a stable financial position. With over 30 years in the Chamber profession, he has had the opportunity to weigh in on many issues formally and informally.

Whether it is challenging a Governor on redirected funds meant for workforce training or standing up for a business’s right to conduct business in front of a hostile crowd of over 300 people, he never waivers and acts with strength and conviction. John is dedicated to working on economic policies that will benefit all Rhode
Islanders. As he has said many times “A rising tide lifts all boats”

Vision and Innovation
John always describes the NRICC as the Chamber of collaboration which has a unique ability to anticipate, evaluate and take action on matters of importance to the business community. Understanding the power of strength in numbers, he was the founder and organizer of the Rhode Island Chamber Coalition, a lobbying partnership representing nine chambers of commerce and thousands of businesses throughout Rhode Island. He is also a founding member of the Rhode Island Business Coalition, a diverse group of business trade associations and chambers of commerce that addresses and studies Rhode Island’s economic challenges and provides suggestions to make Rhode Island a better place to do business.

Most recently he worked tirelessly to complete a merger of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is now the advocate in 13 communities in Rhode Island.

Inspiring Leadership
According to Colin Powell “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” John believes that building consensus is one of the attributes of leadership. Whether it is working with the Chamber staff or with leaders in our state,
John is respected for his passion to help people arrive at a consensus that all can work with. He also is a constant teacher and maintains that one of his greatest joy as a leader is to see others grow and prosper.

Community Mindedness
John’s attitude towards helping others in the community was shaped by his parents. He considers himself fortunate that his position at the chamber has given him the privilege of serving on many boards where he can have an impact in helping others. He serves on the Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB), serving as chair of the Strategic Investment and Evaluation Committee, as well as the Executive Committee.  In addition to the GWB, John was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Career and Education Trust Board that develops partnerships with employers to create internships and other opportunities for student learning.

John serves as a board member and treasurer for the RISE Prep Mayoral Academy, a charter school in Woonsocket. John is a board member of the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, working with community partners to preserve and promote the Valley’s historic, cultural, natural and recreational resources for current and future generations. He is also a founding board member of the Pawtucket Foundation, a catalyst for downtown, riverfront and transportation gateway enhancements within the City of Pawtucket. He works with many groups on small business issues. He is a Deacon at his church and volunteers at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket.

JA Mission Moment
As a “Chamber Guy” throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to interact with many students at many levels; however, nothing I had ever done had prepared me for my JA experience.

I co-taught a class with Jamison Miller. The fifth grade class was attentive and inquisitive as we discussed certain business terms. However, they were also very excited and anxious to start working on their own “businesses”. Their enthusiasm and determination to develop the best business was great to watch and feel. Even though each team came up with a different product or service they all recognized the need for a high level of
customer service if they were to be highly successful.

So as I left the classroom, this “wannabe” teacher felt enriched by the experience and excited to have a chance to glimpse into the future of entrepreneurism.