Staff members at the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce are mourning the loss of their young marketing and communications director, Lauren Brown.
Brown passed away Nov. 30 after a valiant fight against ovarian cancer. She was 29.
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"There's a hole in our hearts -- and in this office," said Janet Meyer, chamber president and CEO.
Brown, a Cary resident, had started in the chamber office as an administrative assistant in 2007, after graduating from Arizona State University. But her strong people skills and interest in the chamber helped her work her way up.
"She was bright and energetic and very willing to learn," Meyer said. "It was a pleasure to mentor her."
Brown quickly immersed herself in the chamber and the 10 Barrington area communities, including Long Grove, that it serves.
As a new college graduate, she brought fresh new marketing skills to her role and a familiarity with social media helps connect the chamber and its nearly 1,000 business members.
"She helped us in our infancy stage with entering into the social media world," Meyer said.
Chamber leaders also credited Brown with helping to design and launch their website as well as re-create their branding. She worked to seamlessly apply their tag line -- We're partners in business success -- to all of their products, from their website and email correspondence, to brochures and resource materials.
"As a chamber, that's what makes us stand out," Meyer said. "There are not too many other young people her age that could do all of that."
Another initiative Brown helped coordinate is the chamber's Women's Biz Net Council. The group of professional women business leaders meets every month to network and hear from speakers on business trends.
In the four years since it launched, the women's group has grown to more than 500 members.
"Lauren's diplomacy and communication played a huge role with our group," said Christina Currie, chairman of the council. "She was passionate to see women succeed."
In recognition of Brown's service, chamber members plan to dedicate a high school scholarship in her name. It will be awarded annually beginning in fall of 2013 to a worthy student entering a public relations or marketing program.
Brown is survived by her parents, Glen and Darla, and brother, Eric. Visitation will take place beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday before a 7 p.m. service at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave. (Route 176) in Crystal Lake.
In lieu of flowers, Lauren's family has requested that mourners to bring photos and donations that will be made to cancer research.