New director for busy Business Incubator at Calverton

Lots cooking: Stony Brook University's sizzling Business Incubator at Calverton has a new associate director.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Stony Brook University’s Business Incubator at Calverton has a new head honcho.

Chris Kempner, a former executive director of the Town of Riverhead’s Community Development Agency, will take over as associate director of the Calverton incubator as of May 15, SBU announced Thursday.

Kempner officially succeeds Monique Gablenz, who retired from her position as Calverton Business Incubator director in the fall of 2016. Incubator management temporarily passed to Jeffrey Saelens, executive director of SBU’s Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium and interim director of the university’s Long Island High Technology Incubator, until Saelens’ retirement in December.

Since then, operations at the circa-2005 business-development center – currently home to roughly 25 early-stage companies, including more than a dozen food and/or beverage firms leveraging the incubator’s state-of-the-art kitchen facilities – have been overseen by Yacov Shamash, SBU’s vice president for economic development.

The baton now passes to Kempner, who brings a quarter-century of economic- and community-development initiatives to her new role. The new associate director was selected from “a pool of highly qualified candidates,” according to SBU.

Her appointment “will greatly strengthen Calverton’s contributions to the East End economy, creating new economic opportunities with sensitivity to the region’s unique heritage,” noted Ann-Marie Scheidt, SBU’s director of economic development.

Chris Kempner: Looking east.

“Her network of regional connections, as well as her outstanding skills and talents, will provide an invaluable resource for the Calverton program,” Scheidt said Thursday.

Kempner spent nine years as chief of Riverhead’s CDA, directing efforts to improve the local economy and quality of life for town residents. Among the big-ticket items to surface on her watch were downtown business-district revitalization projects, the redevelopment of Calverton Enterprise Park and various environmental and historic-preservation programs.

The associate director said she was “looking forward to joining the Stony Brook University Economic Development team” and to working with Shamash, who “has accomplished so much for this region.”

“I want to thank the Riverhead Town Board for the opportunity to work on many interesting projects that have helped transform Riverhead,” Kempner said in a statement. “In my new role at the Business Incubator, I look forward to continuing that close relationship and fostering new ones on the East End.”

Aligning the Calverton business-development hub with eastern interests will be a primary focus of her tenure, the new director added.

“Together, we can undertake a concerted effort to reach out to eastern Long Island economic-development officials and political leaders to accomplish the goals of creating more jobs and economic growth for the region,” she said.

Kempner, who earned a bachelor’s degree in policy analysis from Cornell University and a JD, focused on environmental law, from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, is admitted to both the Hawaii and New York state bar associations. She’s also a licensed real estate broker and former elected trustee of the Village of Greenport.