Leadership Team

Unshackle Upstate is a coalition, led by an executive director who reports to a managing board. This board is made up of statewide and regional business leaders - including the two co-founders of Unshackle Upstate - who have a clear understanding and experience with the unique economic challenges of New York state and Upstate in particular. 

  • Brian Sampson

    Brian Sampson | Executive Director

    Executive Director, Unshackle Upstate

    As executive director of Unshackle Upstate, Brian Sampson is responsible for coordinating its political and policy agenda, advocating for reform in state government, and promoting the overall growth of the coalition and engagement of its partners. Prior to joining Unshackle, he was with Empire State Development (ESD as Upstate Director for Business Outreach and served as vice president of the Builders Exchange of Rochester, a 550-plus member association in the construction industry.

    Contact Brian

  • Sandra A. Parker

    Sandra A. Parker | Co-Founder

    President and CEO, Rochester Business Alliance

    Sandra A. Parker, president and chief executive officer of the Rochester Business Alliance since 2005, leads a chamber of commerce recognized as the "Voice of Business" in Greater Rochester. An active community leader, Parker serves on a variety of boards and is currently co-chair of the Committee to Save New York. Read more.

    Contact Sandra A.

  • Garry F. Douglas

    Garry F. Douglas | Leadership Board

    President and CEO, North Country Chamber of Commerce

    Garry Douglas has been President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce - which serves 4,100 companies across Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and northern Warren County, since 1992. Prior to that, he served for 14 years as executive assistant to U.S. Rep. Gerald Solomon.

    Contact Garry F.

  • Dottie Gallagher-Cohen

    Dottie Gallagher-Cohen | Board Members

    President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

    Dottie Gallagher-Cohen is president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the region's employer-funded economic development organization and the regional chamber of commerce.

    Prior to joining the Partnership, she was president & CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, where she built community awareness about the economic impact of tourism, and modernized the organization’s technology, marketing, and brand platforms.  As Senior Vice President of Marketing for The Buffalo News, she was honored with the New York State Governor’s Award for excellence in media and served on the executive committee of the Yahoo! Newspaper Consortium.

    Currently, she is on the regional advisory board of Universal Health Care and Visit Buffalo Niagara.

    Dottie received her undergraduate degree from Towson University (Baltimore, Maryland) and her MBA from the University at Buffalo.


    Contact Dottie

  • Dave Rakvica

    Dave Rakvica | Leadership Board

    Project Executive, Tetra Tech Construction

    Dave Rakvica is a Project Executive for Tetra Tech Construction a major upstate employer based northwest of Albany which performs $250M of energy, infrastructure, and transportation projects nationally. Dave has served on the board of directors for the Empire Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors between 2007-2012 and became the ABC state chairman in 2011. He is active representing construction industry needs at the local, state, and national levels. 

    Contact Dave

  • Lou Santoni

    Lou Santoni | Leadership Board

    President and CEO, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce

    Lou Santoni is president and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as president of the Greater Binghamton Convention & Visitors Bureau and a member of the Broome County Arena Board of Directors. Read more.

    Contact Lou