An award-winning NKBA member shares her experiences at the top of the chapter-officer pyramid. By Loren Kessell
A kitchen-centric building and remodeling philosophy is Toni Sabatino’s driving force when designing spaces. She is a recent AKBD recipient, holds CLIPP certification, is an award-winning designer and NKBA’s Manhattan Chapter president.
Sabatino, owner of Toni Sabatino Style in Northport, N.Y., has won multiple awards recognizing her volunteerism and dedication to the NKBA and her chapter: She was honored with the NKBA Chapter Star Award for Best President of 2018, and she previously earned a Star Award for her service as Vice President of Communications.
Sabatino discussed the significance of her experience as an NKBA volunteer, and how she’s made a difference in her chapter.
NKBA: What made you want to become a chapter officer? What was the biggest draw for you?
TS:I became a chapter officer after taking on membership during Kent Brasloff’s time as NKBA Manhattan Chapter president. It was a perfect fit, since I was attending board meetings to get a better understanding of what was involved to run the chapter and getting to know the board members. I told members and prospects how much I enjoyed talking shop, sharing resources and networking with people who understand me! The entertaining education, brand-bonding experiences, trade-show meetups and industry socials were all events that I enjoyed, and with that, our membership grew.
NKBA: What do you contribute to your chapter? Any standout moments or accomplishments?
TS:I was head of the committee as communications chair to produce our monthly newsletter, work on the website and monitor social media. I also created event albums for our chapter Facebook page, which were very well-received. Becoming president has been a fantastic experience. It is humbling to have the support of my peers and serve our Manhattan community. I am grateful for the engagement of our community and work with our council to bring together the members, including designers, distributors, manufacturer reps and other industry partners, to strengthen our position and keep the NKBA at the forefront of thought leadership in the industry.
NKBA: Why do you volunteer?
TS:I think that giving back to the industry is important. I am always pleased to see new faces joining the crew, and I am always happy to share my experience as well as learn from those with fresh ideas. Our chapter has become a collective “water cooler” for sharing ideas and resources for those of us with “solo-preneur”-style businesses. It’s also a place to welcome newcomers to the industry or those moving from other parts of the country.
NKBA: What is the value of being a chapter officer?
TS: The opportunities that involvement with the NKBA offer are immense! Networking and exposure as well as continuing education have enriched my life in so many ways. I have been invited on trips to the Newport Food Festival, Napa Valley, Chicago, a quarry in Georgia, a guesthouse outside of Atlanta, and other interesting places to bond with brands by experiencing their culture and product firsthand.
NKBA: What is the biggest benefit of mentoring the next generation of volunteers?
TS:There is a wonderful feeling you get when you are able to help someone. Mentoring new volunteers offers the opportunity to share experiences. Brainstorming and growth happen when discussing challenges, things that worked well, and future plans with those who will take over. It’s such a privilege to work in an industry that positively impacts how people live. Everything we use and everywhere we go — except the beach or the forest — was designed by someone. Understanding the importance of design — especially in the kitchen and bath, where we care for ourselves and our loved ones — is something I love to share.
Officer nominations are open through this Friday, June 14. All officers are chosen via self-nomination. Individuals who wish to be considered for a position must login and will be directed to open slots, with their applications sent to the National Recruitment Committee. For more information on becoming a chapter officer, click here.