Lansing Area Chamber announces leadership changes

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by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (November 15, 2022) – Chamber Board President Susan Thompson announced at a November 9 Chamber luncheon that her two terms as president expire at the end of the month. Board member Jason Brennan of Fine Tune Auto will step into that leadership role on December 1.

Beyond survival

Brennan has been a Lansing Area Chamber member for approximately six years and has served on the board much of that time. As president he wants to transition the Chamber from post-pandemic “survival mode” to an era of proactive growth.

“From the time the COVID shutdown hit [in March of 2020] until really three or four months ago, we were concerned about even keeping the Chamber in existence,” said Brennan. “We weren’t sure we’d survive to be able to continue serving our members and our community.”

But Brennan feels the Chamber is now on secure enough footing to focus on growing membership and adding benefits for members. “Those two things go hand-in-hand,” he explained. “Having more members is a benefit in itself because that increases the networking opportunities. And more businesses are likely to join when they can see how membership benefits their business.”

In addition, Brennan appreciates that the Chamber gives back to the broader community through programs like the Family Giving Program and the LOOP Bike Ride. Those are opportunities that an individual business might find difficult to organize, but being part of a larger group allows even small businesses and home-based businesses to participate and connect with the community.

Reviewing options

Though the Board makes long-term leadership decisions for the Chamber, they hire a Director and a Secretary to handle daily operations and interactions. Brennan said Thompson has been serving as Interim Director on a volunteer basis since March of 2022, when former Director Amy Todd stepped down in order to focus on her family business. Laura Vasquez-Alvarado has been hired to replace Sue Seymour, who retired after 18 years as Chamber Secretary.

At this time, said Brennan, nothing has been discussed by the Chamber Board about the future of the Director position. He wants all the current board members to become familiar with the Chamber’s bylaws so they know what options are available moving forward. “Reviewing the bylaws should probably be an annual practice,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything right.” After that review and discussion, the board can determine whether hiring a full-time director is an expense that will generate commensurate benefits for Chamber members.

Board membership

Also at the November 9 lunch, Chamber Board Member Carolyn Scofield of Waters Edge invited members of the business community to serve as board members for the Lansing Area Chamber, indicating that the board is strongest when it represents the variety of businesses in the community. The Chamber is working on adding information to their website that will give members and potential board members a sense of what board service involves.

“We have a lot of good board members and a lot of good members who are involved and willing to help out,” said Brennan. “I am looking forward to working with them to make the Lansing Area Chamber the best it can be.”

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The Lansing Area Chamber office is located at 17551 Chicago Avenue, in a building shared with the Lan-Oak Park District. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

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