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updated: 1/24/2014 8:34 AM

Naperville chamber chooses next CEO

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  • Nicki Anderson, 52, of Naperville, will begin leading the membership of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 3, when she takes over as the organization's president and CEO.

       Nicki Anderson, 52, of Naperville, will begin leading the membership of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 3, when she takes over as the organization's president and CEO.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Tom Kallay, chairman of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce's board, introduces Nicki Anderson, 52, of Naperville, as the chamber's new president and CEO beginning Feb. 3.

       Tom Kallay, chairman of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce's board, introduces Nicki Anderson, 52, of Naperville, as the chamber's new president and CEO beginning Feb. 3.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

The next leader of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce has 20 years of experience running a business in which she "inspired people" for a living.

Now, Nicki Anderson says she will work to inspire at least 1,500 other area business operators and chamber members as the organization's president and CEO.

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Anderson, 52, will begin her tenure Feb. 3, chamber Chairman Tom Kallay said Thursday. She was chosen from dozens of applicants who sought the position after the chamber chose not to renew its contract with previous President and CEO Mike Evans in November.

"We went through a pretty thorough process in finding our new leader, someone who could carry the momentum that we have built over the past year," Kallay said. "And out of all candidates that we met with, Nicki embodies that. She's got the energy, she has the passion for our members. And we are very confident that she will be a great leader."

Anderson is a Naperville native who lives just three blocks from the chamber's headquarters in the Main Street Promenade on Van Buren Avenue. For 20 years, she ran a health and fitness studio and she has served on the board of Naperville-based nonprofit 360 Youth Services.

"I've always been a lover of my community, very involved in the chamber of commerce," Anderson said. "I understand the importance of the chamber to keep our community vibrant and keep businesses vibrant as well."

While running her health and fitness studio, Anderson often traveled to consult with other business owners about launching a company, marketing and customer service. She said she always asked those she met if they were members of their local chambers, and encouraged those who were not involved with the business promotion organizations to join.

"I've always been an advocate of the chamber," Anderson said. "I love to inspire people to greatness and this is a perfect opportunity to work with the board, work with the staff and inspire our members to help them go to the next level."

Calling the position a "dream come true," Anderson said she plans to offer stability and trust to an organization that has seen its share of leadership switches in the recent past. Evans led the chamber for slightly less than a year from Dec. 10, 2012, to Nov. 18, 2013. Before that, Tami Andrew served as interim president for about five months, and John Schmitt held the position for about three years.

"The joke is 'well, I'm not going anywhere,'" Anderson said. "I have the good fortune of having roots here in Naperville and I plan on staying here."

Chamber leaders said Anderson's passion and purpose-driven leadership approach made her stand out as the best candidate for the job.

"It's a great new day for the chamber," said Katie Wood, executive director of Downtown Naperville Alliance, who has served as the chamber's interim chief executive for the past two months. "The board has made an outstanding choice."

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