One of Our Own – Randy Sweeney

Randy Sweeny
Randy Sweeney

“I only use Randall if I’m in trouble,” Randy Sweeney said with a smile.

Bright light glanced off the table, brightening the office where many good works happen. As the Executive Director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Sweeney certainly plays a large role in the foundation’s commitment to giving back to the community.

“We’re trying to connect the community,” he explained. “We provide the opportunity for people to give back.” Full of passion and a desire to serve, Sweeney is dedicated to enriching the area through many facets of his life.

Sweeney is a native of the area – he attended school in Panama, NY, and later studied at Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia. “I have a degree in business administration,” he said. Sweeney fondly recalled his childhood in the area, adding that he grew up in a ‘ blue collar, middle class family’.

“In college, I worked at Quality Markets – they offered me management positions, and I worked in several stores as co-manager and manager,” he said. For several years, he worked his way up through the business, ending up as the Vice President of sales, and later the Executive Vice President.
During this time, he developed an internal advertising department and print shop for Quality Markets.

“There were cost savings doing it in house, and we had more control,” he explained. They went from a two person team to thirteen by the end.
Sweeney spent 27 years with the company, creating new and exciting promotions, projects, and opportunities.

“While I was with Quality in the sales position, I had an opportunity to connect with the community,” he said. “Quality had to give back more – that was my charge.” That knowledge would help him in later years at the Community Foundation. He was instrumental in the development of many giveaways, midnight madness sales and the cooking show, “Peachy and Elaine.”

“I had Peachy and Elaine in my office at the time,” he explained. “I said, ‘Listen – I have an idea for a cooking show.’ They thought I was crazy!” The cooking show took off as a very popular program on Cable 8 which stayed on the air for many years.

In 1997, his job at Quality was eliminated and he became aware of the executive director position at the foundation. After the interview process, Sweeney was happy to accept the job. “I was thrilled to receive the position,” he said. In this capacity he has been able to help the community even more.

“We are trying to connect daily with donors that want to do something,” he said. “We want to enrich the quality of life in the Chautauqua Region.” He added that the focus was not just the Jamestown area, but other areas as well. Frewsburg, Sherman and others are also on the list of areas helped by the foundation.

Sweeney really enjoys working with people in the community, making connections between students and scholarships, and being involved in multiple boards throughout the region. “I enjoy people…it is delightful to spend time with them,” he said. “I’ve made so many new relationships.” Sweeney serves on several boards at organizations such as the Robert H. Jackson Center, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance. He is also a member of the Health Care Action Team Committee and Jamestown Rotary Club.

In his limited spare time, Sweeney enjoys local and NASCAR racing and being involved in the Jamestown Church of Christ. “I am married to a wonderful lady named Peggy and we are both extremely busy with life,” he said with a smile. “We go to a lot of events.”

Sweeney has two children, Adam and Kate, who now live elsewhere. “Adam is an optometrist and Kate has a PhD in English,” he said, proud of his family. “As a parent, it’s been fun to be involved in their world.”

Sweeney is dedicated each and every day to making sure Chautauqua County is the very best it can be. From providing scholarship opportunities to making connections between organizations and the people who need them, he strives to bring enrichment to the area. Randy Sweeney is approachable and quick to help – no matter the problem, he is ready to tackle it.

“We have such great people here at the Community Foundation,” he said. For 18 years, he has dedicated time and effort to the community…and never regretted a minute.