To say David Emmi has a lot on his plate is an understatement. This proud father of four coordinates approximately 300 electric utility employees in the field as a manager with the O’Connell Electric Company, leads the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Western New York as Chairman of the Board, serves as the Facilities Committee Chair and a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, sits on the respective advisory boards of other professional organizations such as the Junior Builder Exchange, stays active in the community, and still finds the time to enjoy backyard BBQs with his family. We caught up with this busy 40 Under 40 honoree (2019) to discover his secret for balancing family, work, and serving others.
So, David, I understand you are a father of four. What are some of the ways you spend time together?
Yes, I am a very proud father of four children who range from 7 years old to 10 months old: Isabella, Dominic, Leo, and Olivia. We spend a lot of time as a family getting out around the city [Rochester] and on the east side going to area parks. Every day, my wife, Molly, has some sort of fun, new outing planned with our children, and I also learn about many new places and activities through the organizations with which I am involved.
What are some of your family’s favorite local spots?
Rochester, with its unique blend of cultural, culinary, and outdoor opportunities, is a great community. The Strong Museum of Play has been wonderful for us! Last year, we reserved space in the Museum just for our family after hours, and it was so nice. Our kids were able to spend much more time playing because we didn’t have to worry as much about them wandering off. We also love Kettle Ridge Farm in Victor, Durand Eastman Park, and the beaches in Canandaigua and in Charlotte. Lately, we have been enjoying Mendon Ponds Park where we walk, go hiking, canoeing, and do other outdoor activities.
How has your family adapted to the pandemic?
We focused our time around cooking, athletic activities, and enjoying the outdoors. It took a lot of thoughtful planning, particularly with our broader family. We spent more purposeful times outdoors regardless of the weather. We always have fun tailgating, BBQ-ing, and
campfire cooking, so we would often gather in the backyard and just hang out. We grew closer as a family as we embraced the outdoors together.
Along with family and your work, I understand you also find time to help others?
Serving others and being involved is very important to me. There are so many opportunities to help people in need with time commitments that suit virtually any schedule. I currently serve as Chairman of the Board with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) of Western New York. I first became involved with CFF when I was nominated as one of Rochester’s Finest, a recognition for young up-and-coming professionals who are involved in the community. I fell in love with the cause and with those involved in CFF. I am humbled that they nominated and elected me, and I am happy to serve. I would like my children to see that no matter where you are in life, it is important to serve your community.
Can you describe this sense of community you hope to develop in your children?
Anyone can do charity work, but to give your time to other people because you have a truly
organic sense of wanting to be with others and help them live their best lives, that means a lot more than just charity. That is service-oriented, putting in that elbow grease and sweat, and it is what I want my kids to do. My children are getting exposure to different walks of life and have different service opportunities because of the organizations in which I am involved. I hope they understand the beauty of the duty we have to our community and to one another.
You have so much going on. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I have a lot to say about work/life balance actually. It is challenging and unique for everyone, but a resounding common denominator for success is communicating your expectations for your life and work. As a husband, the most important thing I can do is communicate with my wife about what I have going on. We need to communicate so that we can manage each other’s expectations. When I am with my wife, I am focused on her. I am not trawling on my phone. Likewise, I am not taking phone calls when I am with my kids. While I do work a lot, there are times that are just for my family. People, no matter how busy they are, need to separate from work for specific periods to spend meaningful time with themselves, their spouses, and their families.