She may not have known it at the
time, but she was also meeting a lot
of CTCPA members, which became
abundantly clear in the days following
the announcement of her new position.
CBIA happens to be housed in the
same downtown Hartford building as
CohnReznick, so she knew there'd be
friendly faces there. She's worked with
a number of tax specialists over the
years on legislative issues, and knew
they were CTCPA members.
After her last presentation to a manu-
facturing council, though, three people
approached her to congratulate her on
her new position and share that they
were CTCPA members and looking
forward to working with her. A board
member wrapped her up in a bear hug
when he heard of her new position
and followed up by emailing a PDF of
the letter he received welcoming him
to the CTCPA 31 years ago.
"The fact that people are sharing their
stories and are very impressed by the
organization, that always makes you
feel better when you're leaving one
place to go to another!" Bonnie said.
When Bonnie came into the CTCPA of-
fice in mid-December for this interview,
three weeks before her official start
date, she was stunned to hear that she
had mail waiting for her. "Already?!"
The handful of greeting cards sent to
the office, however, has been just the
tip of the iceberg.
"The welcome I have received in the
last three weeks has been so heart-
ening," she marveled. "I always felt
appreciated at CBIA I rose very
quickly, but when the announcement
went out, within three days, I had more
than 300 emails, text messages, I got
Shari's Berries, I got flowers at home,
I got phone calls nonstop, I got Edible
Arrangements ... From your members
who are CBIA members, and from your
members I haven't met yet."
"Nobody sends anything in writing
anymore, but above my desk, I have
one card after another like this," she
said, gesturing to the cards fanned
out on the desk in front of her. "The
well wishes and welcome wishes have
been incredibly appreciated."
Climbing the Ladder at CBIA
Bonnie started at CBIA 28 years ago
as a staff attorney, and rose to counsel
within the first 10 years.
In 2000, an opportunity presented it-
self in the form of the human resources
services department a department in
charge of many educational programs
that happened to be facing some chal-
lenges. With her background in labor
and employment matters, Bonnie was
asked to step in.
"I love strategic planning," she shared.
"And for that to work, for that to serve
the employees well, to serve the or-
ganization well, to serve the members
well, it has to be a collaboration."
The team was asked to put their heads
together to come up with ideas about
what the members needed that they
weren't doing, what they were doing
that the members didn't care about,
and what were they doing that could
be done "smarter."
Within a year and a half, the depart-
ment was able to better serve its mem-
bers and become more profitable.
When asked for her proudest mo-
ment with CBIA, however, that finan-
cial achievement wasn't at the top of
"Passing the workers' compensation
reforms," Bonnie answered without
hesitation. "That was a big issue. We
had a lot of companies leaving the
state in the early 80s, literally citing
the cost of workers' compensation. It
Armed with a "really good team of
people" at the Capitol, Bonnie and her
CBIA associates joined forces with
other businesses and business
hile Bonnie Stewart was climbing the ladder from staff attorney to
vice president of government and public affairs at the Connecticut
Business and Industry Association (CBIA), she was already honing the skills
that would eventually make her the fourth CTCPA executive director
and the first female to serve in the position.
"I love strategic planning.
And for that to work, for that
to serve the employees well,
to serve the organization well,
to serve the members well,
it has to be a collaboration."