Chamber executive returns to her roots
Patricia Haskins, executive vice president of the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, is going full circle.
The native of Southern Illinois has worked more than a dozen years as a suburban chamber executive, and now she is packing up to return to southern Illinois after her retirement last week.
"I had never dreamed I would ever move to the Chicago suburbs," she said.
Haskins was born in Mt. Carmel and raised in nearby Bellmont, both in southern Illinois. She came to the Chicago area in 1985.
After she graduated from Eastern Illinois University, she was a schoolteacher, Youth for Christ leader and then took time off to raise her son, David, who is now an artist and has his "SkyCube" art at the Elmhurst Art Museum. She also has a daughter, Elizabeth, and son-in-law, Sandy, who have five children. Haskins also spent time working as a church secretary, receptionist and an account manager.
Then she decided in 2003 to accept the position of president and CEO of the Warrenville Chamber of Commerce, a job she felt was an accomplishment in itself.
"I feel my greatest accomplishment was going into a field that I knew nothing about and making it a successful chamber for 8 years," Haskins said.
When the Great Recession hit, many businesses suffered and, ultimately, so did some chambers. The Warrenville chamber decided to merge with the West Chicago chamber in 2011 to combine resources and members.
Haskins, who had led the Warrenville chamber for about 8 years, switched to executive vice president of the newly formed Western DuPage chamber and continued another four years.
"In the merging of our chamber with West Chicago and then later with Winfield, I would say my biggest accomplishment comes from the comments of many people at my retirement party (last week)," Haskins said. "My members knew that I cared about them as an individual, not just as a member of our chamber. I left many friends that will continue to be my friends in the future."
Haskins now is moving to Allendale, about 10 miles north of Mt. Carmel, where her brother and sister-in-law live. Her sister-in-law was Haskins' best friend in high school, she said.
"My husband, Nick, and I both grew up in small country towns, so we are returning to our roots," said Haskins. "We love the country."
David J. Sabathne, who had led the West Chicago chamber and then became the president and CEO of the newly formed Western DuPage chamber, said he has hired a part-time person, Lisa Marie Vogt, to replace Haskins in the interim, and then plans later to hire a full-time person.
"Patricia was so intuitive and caring of our chamber members," he said.
Haskins said she enjoyed her tenure and hopes her replacement can continue to help the chamber members.
"Our goal is to help them see ways to move their business forward and gain new customers," Haskins said. "They will not be bored -- we have lots going on in the Western DuPage Chamber and we have wonderful members. And also remind them, we provide opportunities -- they have to make the commitment to make it work for them."
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