The Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is continuing its mission of facilitating business development -- Latino style -- under new leadership.
Longtime chamber member Karina Garcia recently became the chamber's executive director, stepping into the role previously held by Interim Executive Director Jerry Campagna.
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Garcia, 31, of North Aurora, said the chamber will push to build greater community involvement among Hispanic business owners, offer more workshops for small businesses and bring back a business expo last held in 2010.
"Getting the community more involved is our goal," Garcia said. "We have a lot of local business owners that are Latinos and we want to get them more involved with the community."
Garcia began her involvement with the Aurora Hispanic Chamber as a volunteer, winning the organization's Volunteer of the Year award in 2009 before becoming a member of the board. To begin as executive director, she left a job with Toyota of Naperville, where she worked in customer service and sales.
"I even had a talk show on a Spanish radio station introducing Toyota to the Latino market," Garcia said.
Garcia's professional experience and knowledge of Latino consumers made her a great fit for the executive director position, Campagna said.
"We wanted to find and identify somebody that was familiar with the Aurora market and also had a marketing background and outgoing personality that would be beneficial to the chamber in membership drives," Campagna said.
In seven months of leadership after the departure of former executive director Norma Vazquez, Campagna said he worked to rebuild the chamber's 10-member board, plan and host its largest fundraiser -- Fiestas Patrias in September -- and choose a long-term leader.
"She's going to bring a lot of energy," Campagna said about Garcia. "It gives some more stability knowing that there's a full-time executive director in place that's also familiar with Aurora."
The chamber has about 20 large corporate members and 150 small-business members, both numbers Garcia said she hopes to increase.
"We're trying to focus on what we're going to do with the chamber moving forward; how we're going to help our local businesses," she said.
Community members are invited to meet Garcia at a Networking Fiesta at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at La Sierra de Aurora Banquets, 2121 E. New York St. Chamber members and first-time guests can attend free; admission for other guests is $10. Reservations can be made at ahcc-il.com or by calling (630) 264-2422.