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What you need to know for 07/23/2017

Poor health prevents Steiner's return to Chamber work

Poor health prevents Steiner's return to Chamber work

Poor health prevents Steiner's return to Chamber work
Chuck Steiner speaks during a ribbon cutting to celebrate The Daily Gazette's 120th year, on Tuesday, September 30, 2014.
Photographer: Daily Gazette file photo

Failing health will prohibit Chuck Steiner, president of the Capital Region Chamber, from returning to work.

Steiner, who led the Chamber of Schenectady County before the group merged with the Albany-Colonie chamber in 2015, has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the disease is a fatal brain disorder that affects about one person in every million worldwide.

Mark N. Eagan, chief executive officer of the Capital Region Chamber, said Steiner left the organization at the end of October.

“With Chuck, one of the biggest symptoms was his balance was really off,” Eagan said. “It affected his vision; his memory hasn’t been quite as sharp. Unfortunately, it’s a disease that doesn’t have any known cure.”

Steiner returned to chamber offices on a part-time basis at the end of November, but was still not feeling well. The chamber announced his health problems on Friday.

“While at this point it doesn’t look like he’s coming back to the office, he remains part of our team,” Steiner said. “He remains our chamber’s president.”
Robin Granger, the chamber’s vice president of communication and marketing, has worked with Steiner for about 12 years. At the Schenectady Chamber, Granger was senior vice president.

She said Steiner started at the chamber in January 2003.

“I learned something from him every day,” Granger said. “He always had the utmost integrity and he never took time for himself.”

Granger added that Steiner, 66, who lives in Niskayuna, is in good spirits and has retained his “self-deprecating” sense of humor.

Chamber staffers have taken the news hard. “We were pretty shell-shocked and obviously upset, concerned for him and concerned for his family,” Granger said. “We rallied very quickly and are working to get meals over there and do anything we possibly can to help.”

Other local business officials expressed concern for Steiner’s health, and said they have always enjoyed working with him.

“Chuck’s style is so engaging,” said Bob Curley, New York chairman of Berkshire Bank. “You can’t stay down when you’re around Chuck. He’s just an upbeat guy. When you need something done, Chuck always figures out a way to get it done.”

“Chuck has been the heart of the chamber,” said Paula Stopera, president of the Cap Com Federal Credit Union. “From the moment I was first in a leadership position, he and his smile just came from his heart. He’s always willing to help others.”

Christine Horne, public relations manager for GE Power, said Steiner has a way of making everybody feel comfortable, important and part of a team.

“He’s a highly effective convener of people and organizations and has a very thoughtful and personal way of engaging people,” Horne said. “He’s an exceptional leader, and does it in a strong but gentlemanly way, which is an amazing talent.”

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease affects about 300 people each year in America, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Symptoms generally appear around age 60.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.

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