The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has a new leader to guide its future.
Susan Allen is the former Downtown Vernon Association executive director and director of research for the University of British Columbia – Okanagan.
Allen took over Monday, replacing Lee Mason who quit in January.
Born in Comox and raised in Kitimat, Allen spent summers on Vancouver Island visiting family in Victoria and Qualicum Beach.
“I remember travelling through Nanaimo to visit family and the changes I see now have been phenomenal,” she said. “The harbourfront, the downtown … Nanaimo has a huge potential.”
Allen said her No. 1 reason for taking the Nanaimo job was the chamber’s board of directors and staff.
“I really got a sense this board is committed to work together to make a difference in Nanaimo,” she said. “This chamber is not just proactive as a voice of business, but for the community.”
Her first priorities are to go through the programs offered by the chamber and see if there are any changes needed to improve.
She’ll also be looking at the strategic planning process that determines the chamber’s short- and long-term goals.
Wally Wells, board chairman, said the chamber has done well over the last six months without a CEO, but hasn’t been able to initiate new ventures.
“We’ve been raising the bar at the chamber over the years and a CEO is key,” he said. “You might have the best ideas in the world, but if you don’t have someone to implement them, they’re just ideas and you are in trouble. We want Susan to take those ideas and thoughts and put them into action.”
That sits well with Allen, who believes to be successful you must build relationships on respect, collaboration and co-operation.
“It’s much easier to get things done when we work together and the load is shared,” she said. “There’s so much potential for growth in Nanaimo and not just the business sector. I’m excited to be a part of it.”