“The Only Constant is Change”
When Kaylin Risvold stepped in as the new President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce last October, she never could have expected what her first year would look like.
“Every time we felt like we got a hold of something, there was change. Just full uncertainty so much of the year and constant change,” she said. “So I guess the only constant is change. And that’s kind of been what’s happened the first year.”
Response to COVID-19
Risvold’s first year was largely defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under her leadership, the chamber fully supported Choose DuPage’s proposed reopening plan in May, which advocated for DuPage County and Naperville to be separated from Chicago in the state’s regional groupings.
As the state moved through reopening phases, the chamber provided back to business toolkits to help members get safely back to work.
Discussions on Race
The other defining topic of the year was discussions on racial equality.
“I know conversations surrounding diversity is something that we really need to continue to have here in Naperville, which is why made it a big priority of mine to get it up and going right when I started,” said Risvold. “So I started last October and this new committee was formed in January. I was really proud of that. It’s a diversity, equity and inclusion committee chaired by Kim White. And it’s just really flourished.”
With both COVID-19 and diversity discussions likely to continue into Risvold’s second year, she’s prepared to keep working through them while also striving for other goals.
“Really working to find out what our community needs and giving it to them – I’m looking forward to diving into that a little bit more,” she said. “And getting back to regular work. Doing the day-to-day, everyday stuff that has not always been the focus because we’ve been so focused on the pandemic.”
And even one year in, it still feels special to be serving businesses in her hometown.
“This is coming home to me,” said Risvold. “I’m from here, I love Naperville, my family and I live here. And to feel like I was embraced as a leader in this community is an invaluable feeling and I hope I can do my part to give back.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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