Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Borkoski to lead Hispanic chamber

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She has long had a passion for helping small businesses. Now, Isabel Regina Borkoski is about to hit her stride.

Borkoski is the new executive director of the 273-member Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County.

Her father opposed her majoring in industrial psychology in college, afraid she wouldn’t find a job in that field in her native Brazil, Borkoski said. But her degree from Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes has never been a better fit than in her new position: Industrial psychology is the application of psychological concepts to work settings.

‘‘I hope to include the business opportunities for Hispanic entrepreneurs and maximize the effectiveness of the chamber’s opportunities,” she said.

In several previous jobs with associations and a chamber of commerce, Borkoski has consistently created comprehensive networking programs to better meet the diverse needs of the members and business community, said Carmen Larsen, former president of the Hispanic chamber.

‘‘Ms. Borkoski brings over 12 years’ experience in membership services and programs, and proven expertise in creating comprehensive networking programs and opportunities to target audiences to better meet the diverse needs of the members and business community,” Larsen said in an e-mail.

Borkoski moved from Sao Paolo, Brazil, to the United States in 1988 to study English. She married Matthew Borkoski, a commercial photographer, and stayed. They live in Silver Spring and have two children, Natalie, 14, and Andrew, 11.

Early in her career, Borkoski was a meeting planner for the Association of Farmworker Opportunities Programs and also worked for William Berger and Associates, an association management firm. She worked with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to create a program to help farmworkers apply for visas and to provide education for their children as the workers moved from state to state.

‘‘That was really rewarding to help the kids,” she said.

Recently, Borkoski coordinated membership programs and small-business initiatives with the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, where she worked for more than six years. She was then elected to the Hispanic chamber’s board.

Borkoski was a member of the Montgomery County Commission for Women from 2002 to 2004. She is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery County, and a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management for professional organization and leadership in the nonprofit field.

Her first priority at the Hispanic chamber will be to give businesses ‘‘the best membership services ever.”

She said she believes in reaching out to members to encourage them to network.

‘‘I want them to see what they need to do, and to do that, I will talk to them,” she said. The chamber ‘‘is a huge resource, but you need to show them that.”

Borkoski can do that in four languages. She speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. But she’d rather not speak of golf, one of her two sports hobbies, in any language.

‘‘I’m not good at golf,” said Borkoski, who also plays racquetball.