When you hear people talk about The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC) President, Nicki Anderson you hear the word passionate a lot.
“What we found in Nicki was passion, stability, and instant credibility,” said Tom Kallay, Chairman of the NACC Board of Directors. “Those were three important factors that we were looking for in a new CEO because we were in desperate need of that at the time because of all the turmoil that had happened before that.”
The Chamber hit a rough patch last November when they mutually agreed to not renew the pending contract of then President and CEO, Mike Evans.
After a little more than two months of reassessment and a nationwide search, the Chamber board announced the hiring of Anderson, the first small business owner and woman to hold the position.
“I think there is a lot of pressure when you see a lot of turnover in a business,” said Anderson. “But, you also have to have the confidence that that was then, this is now. Onward and upward.”
And onward she went. Officially starting in February, Anderson knew she wanted to focus on fundamentals like building up relationships between members and her staff to help everyone get the most out of the relationship.
“Even though I ran a health club and you would say that has nothing to do with the chamber world, it actually does,” explained Anderson. “I don’t want someone to be a paying member to the chamber and not engage. That’s not my ideal member. Just like a health club, I don’t want someone joining my health club and never showing up. That’s not why I’m there, I’m there to make a difference.”
Anderson positive attitude about the organization is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by members and the board that hired her.
“In the last six months we’ve seen an injection of passion,” said Kallay. “You can’t talk about Nicki without using the word passionate. She cares very much about the membership. She listens to the membership and she has been very focused on making sure that the programs that are offered by the chamber meet the needs of the members.”
The fact that Anderson is the first woman president is a milestone in the history of the Chamber, but they say above all Anderson was just a great fit.
“We were looking for the best leader, and the best leader in this case was a woman,” said Kallay. “And that’s fantastic. I think the business world is changing and I think we need to reflect that change.”
While Anderson is proud of the change she’s helped bring about she still has a long list of ideas to implement including using technology to better engage members.
“Value, relevancy, and trust, that’s what I strive to do every day,” said Anderson. “With the projects that are pending and the projects that are in the works, it’s very exciting.”
The NACC is one of the largest suburban chambers with more than 1,500 members.
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