The Hermitage man is the first male to lead the local ABWA.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
SHARON, Pa. -- Richard Zakrzewski didn't intend to make history when he became the first man to join the Shenango Valley Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association five years ago.
He added a second new line to the local chapter's history when he was elected its president in May.
He's in elite company.
The national ABWA said he's one of only about 10 men in the country ever to have that position in the association's 53-year history.
Zakrzewski, 45, general manager and marketing and sales director at Tiffany's in Brookfield, said he was just looking to join an organization that had worthy causes to support when he asked if men could join the Shenango Valley Chapter in 1997.
"I was welcomed with open arms," he said. One other man has joined since.
"I always strive at being the best I can be," Zakrzewski said, explaining that he was looking for a group where he could contribute. "The Lord has blessed me in life, so I wanted to give something back."
The ABWA raises money for student scholarships for men and women, and that's something Zakrzewski said he can support.
He's served as chairman of various chapter committees and was vice president last year.
He said he was approached to run for president and was elected in May, taking office in July and chairing his first meeting in August.
Zakrzewski is a graduate of Hickory High School and earned bachelor's degrees in marketing and psychology from Thiel College in 1980. He's also a graduate of the Winner Hotel Group's catering excellence program and the Winner Institute of Arts and Science and Culinary Arts.
He also is a certified massage therapist and has been appointed to the Business Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., part of the National Republican Congressional Committee seeking to ensure that small business has a voice in Congress and in government reform.
Zakrzewski said he's received "hundreds" of phone calls congratulating him and some people have sent gifts to his Hermitage home.
He's also heard from the national ABWA president, who indicated she would like to attend one of his meetings in the Shenango Valley.
Would he consider running for national ABWA office himself some day?
"Maybe," he said.