A Farmville man serving as college dean has been hired as the new executive director of the ESVA Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission.

Robert Sabbatini, who is the dean of the students at Hampden-Sydney College and already owns a house on the east coast, was selected as “the best candidate from a talented and diverse pool of applicants” according to the chairman of the chamber committee.

He replaces Robie Marsh, who has been with the Chamber since 2017 and accepted a position at A&N Electric Cooperative.

“I am thrilled that Robert and his family accepted our offer,” said CEO Will Russell. “Not only do we get a highly qualified candidate, but we also bring a young family to our region.

“I know Sabbatini will continue to build on the great work of outgoing Executive Director Robie Marsh.”

Sabbatini was selected by a joint recruitment committee made up of directors of the chamber and tourism commissioners.

As dean, Sabbatini oversaw all facets of student life at the School of Liberal Arts. He was originally born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but his family moved to Southwest Virginia at a young age.

His mother is descended from the Watts family on the east coast.

“The charm of the east coast, its people and the landscape drew our family here,” said Sabbatini.

“I am delighted to be part of the opportunities that the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Commission is offering to the people and businesses of the coast, and I am delighted to be advocating and promoting them.”

Sabbatini and his wife Donna have two children and will be moving into the house they own here. It will start at the end of April.

“The Tourism Commission looks forward to using Robert’s vast experience to continue the excellent relationships that the Tourism Commission and Chamber have built to create more tourism opportunities in our two counties,” said John Coker, Chairman of the Tourism Commission, who also Committee assisted in recruiting.

Russell thanked the Board members of the Chamber and the Commission for their work during the recruitment process.

“We believe Robert is the right person to continue the partnership between the two organizations that help promote the East Coast’s business and tourism opportunities efficiently and responsibly.”