Feb. 1, 2022 By Christian Murray
The Sunnyside Business Improvement District has appointed a new executive director who has a long history in event planning and government communications.
Dirk McCall, who has lived in the Astoria since 1993, took over the position last month, and is looking to help Sunnyside businesses thrive through local events and marketing outreach.
He is stepping into the role previously occupied by Jaime-Faye Bean, who left in December after leading the BID for approximately 5 years. She is now working as the vice president of development at the James Beard Foundation.
McCall said that in the two weeks that he has worked for the BID he has been trying to get to know as many people as possible—from business owners, non-profit leaders to elected officials.
He is tasked with leading an organization that’s main role is to promote businesses located on Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue from 38th Street to 50th Street.
One of McCall’s first projects, he said, is to expand the BID’s mailing list and footprint on the web.
“Jaime was doing an amazing job with the ‘What’s in Sunnyside’ newsletter and with social media. My goal is to make it bigger where we can hit more people. To put it on steroids.”
He also praised current staffers Jaime Cho and Evelyn Chango for the organization’s social media success.
McCall comes to the position having most recently worked for the Queens District Attorney’s office as its Director of Civic Awareness.
In that role, he organized an array of events. He planned events for Diwali, the Lunar New Year, Black History month, Latino heritage and other cultural festivities. He also organized events for the gun buyback program.
“It was a lot of going out into the community, identifying stakeholders, developing relationships with them, and getting them involved with the office,” McCall said.
He also worked with the district attorney’s advisory councils, where he would organize meetings between various constituencies—such as the LGBT community, African American groups, Asian-American representatives —and the district attorney’s office.
McCall also worked as the director of external affairs at the Bronx Borough President’s office between 2014 and 2020 where he organized community events, including job fairs and tech summits. He also would connect small businesses to city and state agencies.
“It was me going out to the community, identifying needs…and connecting people.”
McCall said he enjoys organizing events and has been doing it on a volunteer basis in Astoria for years.
In the early 2000s, he began organizing monthly restaurant crawls in Astoria through two Facebook groups he helped establish—Astoria Centric and Out Astoria, which is for the LGBT community.
Up until the outbreak of COVID-19, the groups met regularly.
“The goal with the groups has been to support local businesses and connect businesses to the community,” McCall said.
He said the Facebook groups remain active and he hopes to get the monthly gatherings up and running again when the COVID-19 Omicron variant subsides.
McCall is hopeful that the variant will be long gone by the time Sunnyside Shines’ big summer events are held—such as the Taste of Sunnyside.
“I love big events,” he said, adding that he is hopeful that they will be making a comeback this year. “It gets me charged up and excited. It’s what gives me life.”