For Chris Wyatt, the strength of businesses in Juneau is a reflection of the overall strength of the town.
"When you have a healthy business community, you have a healthy community in which to live," said Wyatt, who will begin serving as executive director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Sunday.
In March 2002 Wyatt was hired as the executive assistant of the Chamber. Two months ago, she was named deputy executive director. Current director Todd Saunders is leaving the position to open a U.S. Small Business Administration office in Juneau.
"It was very unanimous," said Mike Story, president of the Chamber's board of directors, of its decision to appoint Wyatt.
"Chris has been with us for a couple of years and she's been the one behind the directors doing all of the work," Story said. "She's just been a tremendous booster for the Chamber for the last couple of years."
Wyatt, born and raised in Hawaii, said she moved to Juneau in 1990 to seek out a less crowded but equally beautiful environment.
She has worked as an advertising representative at the Juneau Empire, for the Legislative Affairs Agency, and as a freelance publications specialist.
Wyatt applied for the executive director position at the Chamber six months ago, when Jamie Parsons resigned and the board of directors hired Saunders.
"As we went through that process, she was clearly the No. 2 person, a very close No. 2 person to Todd at that time," Story said.
As executive director, Wyatt will have many of the same duties she had as deputy director, a position the Chamber created two months ago, she said.
"It's just that I can assume more of a leadership role in terms of the Chamber's goals," she said.
The Chamber will hire an executive assistant to fill Wyatt's former position.
Wyatt plans to make increasing membership a priority for the Chamber.
"The more members we have, the more visible we are in the community," Wyatt said. "... We are a voice and we are an advocate for businesses in Juneau."
She'll also continue to work on the board's priorities, including a road to Juneau and opposition to moving the capital.
The Chamber board will hold its annual retreat this weekend, where it will re-evaluate its goals for the coming year, Story said.
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