President and CEO
James Grunke is the president and CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber, bringing more than 25 years of experience in economic development leadership roles to the position. He has held key roles at several economic development organizations and chambers of commerce.
Before moving to Montana, James worked as project director for Atlanta-based National Community Development Services, where he led successful campaigns that raised nearly $20 million for community and economic development priorities in multiple communities.
James holds both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in public policy from Boise State University. He also is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute – widely regarded as the nation’s premier economic development educational program – and the Northwest Community Development Institute, an intensive three-year training program for economic development professionals, community leaders, and elected officials.
Jake Rouch is the vice president of economic development at the Erie Regional Chamber and was an integral part of the 2002 merger between the Erie Conference, Erie Area Chamber, and Erie Insight that originally formed the chamber as it exists today. He was the organization's first president and CEO and has remained an ardent economic leader and community champion for the Erie community, focusing on business attraction for the greater Erie region.
Before the Chamber, Jake worked for several economic development organizations including the Erie Development Corporation of Erie County, DuBois Area Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce, and the Erie Conference on Community Development. In 2005, Jake was honored with one of 12 inaugural Generation E leadership awards presented by the Young Erie Professionals.
Over the years, Jake has been a guest on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and has been quoted in news stories and features in Inc. Magazine, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Fortune Magazine, and Expansion Management Magazine. Jake earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Gannon University and a master's degree in urban planning with a specialization in economic development from the University of Illinois(Urbana-Champaign). Jake is married to Jordan Johnson and is the proud father of twins, Jack and Liz, stepfather of Findley and Taylor Lincoln, and serves as an understudy to Pepper Johnson, the family cat.
Vice President of Economic Development
Vice President of Business Engagement
Lesley Ridge Allen is the vice president of business engagement at the Erie Regional Chamber and is responsible for leading all member recruitment and retention strategies as well as strategic communication initiatives. Ridge Allen joined the team four years ago as a business outreach specialist and often moonlights as our in-house tech support, finding new ways for the team to increase efficiency by putting technology to good use! She's also a self-proclaimed data geek and eagerly dives into our databases to uncover trends and new services and benefits to provide our members.
Ridge Allen returned to Erie in 2013 and launched a digital marketing agency focused on small businesses in Erie County after working in Boston as an online community manager for a consumer marketing agency. She began her career in public relations for a DC-based start-up after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University where she received her bachelor's and master's degrees in professional writing and information architecture.
Lesley was named to Erie Reader's "40 Under 40" list in 2014 and was an honoree in 2017 for the Mercy Center's "Women Making History". She is a recent graduate of the Appalachian Leadership Institute — a nine-month intensive program through the Appalachian Regional Commission — and has held other board roles for local nonprofits since returning to Erie in 2012. Lesley and her husband, Chris, enjoy live music as well as spending time at Presque Isle and regional sporting events with their two sons.
Colleen Gross is the director of events and programs at the Erie Regional Chamber. Her passion is in managing events and supporting important causes in our community. In her current role at the Chamber, she enjoys being part of a great team that works diligently to serve businesses so our community can enjoy a healthy economy.
Previously, Colleen worked for the Community Blood Bank of NWPA and the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With both organizations, she planned and managed community blood drives. She still acknowledges and appreciates the importance of donating blood and tries to do so regularly. Additionally, she worked at the National MS Society in development, fundraising, and event management.
Colleen graduated from Edinboro University with a bachelor's degree in communications. Outside of work, Colleen enjoys the outdoors, gardening, running, crafting, and finding the next adventure with her husband, Chris, and eight-year-old daughter, Emmerson.
Director of Events and Programs
Business Engagement Manager
Gabrielle (Gabi) Catrabone is a business engagement manager at the Erie Regional Chamber and is responsible for recruiting new chamber members as well as engaging existing members. Before joining the chamber, Gabi gained experience in various industries including banking, community outreach, and industrial sales; all supported by a common thread: a generous love and knowledge of Erie businesses.
Gab is an Erie native, a Mercyhurst University graduate, and the oldest of three siblings. She is a mother to one son, Leo, and one cat, “Sweetie Bell,” who keeps her on her toes and laughing. In her spare time, Gabi can be found near, or on, the peninsula. With no shortage of hobbies, Gabi enjoys reading, riding her bike, playing/coaching soccer, practicing the guitar, taking ballet classes at Seiche Collective, and enjoying and creating art of all mediums.
Curtis Jones, Jr. is the director of government affairs for the Erie Regional Chamber, where he builds upon the organization's relationships with local, state, and federal agencies and elected officials. Additionally, Curtis is working to connect historically underrepresented people to opportunities that empower the entire community in business and economic development endeavors.
Before the chamber, Curtis worked for various nonprofit agencies that provided behavioral health services to children and their families. He also served as a city councilman for thirteen years two of which he served as council president. He also launched a business -- CLJ Speaking and Consulting -- focused on bridging gaps within our diverse communities and serves as the lead pastor and founder of Light Center Ministries.
Curtis earned his bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in theological studies from Thiel College. He also completed the Leadership Erie program at Gannon University and has served on community boards, committees, and authorities throughout his twenty-three-year career. He is the father of four amazing and talented children and a proud grandfather to a beautiful granddaughter.
Director of Government Affairs
Entrepreneurship Manager and FIRE Accelerator Program Lead
Jordan Fuller is the startup and entrepreneurship manager at the Erie Regional Chamber, overseeing the FIRE Accelerator program and managing the growing portfolio of alumni companies. The accelerator program has attracted companies from around the world and across the United States and encourages participants to establish a business presence in Erie. Additionally, Jordan is expanding the Chamber's current startup and entrepreneurship services to include ongoing research, a collaborative leadership committee, and new events.
Jordan laid the foundation for the FIRE Accelerator program while completing his undergraduate degree in Erie. Since its inception, the alumni companies have raised over $100M of additional capital and $19M of sustainable revenue growth. The sixth cohort of the program will begin in Fall 2023 and has grown to include a 10-week global business curriculum, network, and business attraction and retention models.
Jordan graduated from Gannon University in 2018 with dual bachelor's degrees in marketing and supply chain management as well as a minor in economics. He currently serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement and Impact Corry.
Sean Lyons is the workforce development specialist at the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. In this role, he facilitates connections between regional employers, workforce development training and service providers, and the local workforce to strengthen the local labor pool. Additionally, Sean works alongside the Erie Regional Manufacturing Partnership committee to drive talent attraction and workforce development within the regional manufacturing industry.
Sean joined the chamber in 2022 from the manufacturing industry with a strong financial and insurance background, working 15 years in various roles related to treasury management, cash and credit management, account receivables, and business analytics.
Workforce Development Specialist
Director of Business Outreach
Kristen Karrfalt is the director of business outreach at the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. She is passionate about connecting people and cultivating relationships to assist the Erie business community with any challenges big or small. She oversees the chamber's business retention and expansion program which provides resources to assist with financial, operational, and workforce development challenges, needs, and opportunities.
Kristen spent 23 years working in the hospitality industry, specifically in hotel sales. She has lived in DE, MA, NC, and VA. One of Kristen’s proudest accomplishments was winning the 2009 hotel opening of the year for the Residence Inn Brand for the Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse in Arlington, VA. She was also the recipient of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association’s Golden Pineapple Award.
Originally from Edinboro, Kristen has returned to the area after 30 years away and is excited to be home. She attended General McLane High School and graduated in 1992. She has a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Widener University and did some post-graduate studies at UNLV. Kristen is a member of the Gamma Xi chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma and Women on Course. In her free time, you may find Kristen attempting to swing a golf club on the course somewhere or dining at a new restaurant in the area.
Victoria (Vic) Delaney serves the Erie Community in her current role as Office Administrator for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. Before joining ERCGP, Vic was a small business owner in the welding/fabrications and food industries. She also worked at Gannon University's College of Engineering and Business, JTM Foods, and National Landscaping Company in human resources.
Vic is an Erie native and has played an active role in community affairs while mentoring young men and women in business and social ethics. She received a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in management from Gannon University.
In her free time, Vic enjoys baking, golf, socializing, gaming with her grandsons, and day trips in search of picturesque scenery, good food, and friends.
Susan Ronto is the administrative assistant at the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, where she has served Chamber members for over 30 years. Susan brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the team and is an integral part of daily operations. She is responsible for office management, database maintenance, and providing general assistance to members and the business community at large.
Susan is also part of the business engagement team, and provides finance and administrative support, and additional executive duties as needed. Susan graduated from General McLane High School. She and her husband, Steve, enjoy snowmobiling and four-wheeling.