Glen Ellyn chamber has a new executive director

Updated 8/10/2016 2:01 PM
  • Dawn Smith is the new executive director of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce.

    Dawn Smith is the new executive director of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce.

A Michigan native experienced in event planning and tourism will head the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce as its new executive director.

Dawn Smith, who has lived in the village for nine years, will start the full-time job Monday, Aug. 15. She succeeds Mike Formento, a former village president who stepped down after eight years from the top post at the chamber, a nonprofit group that promotes businesses in town.

Smith previously worked as a national tourism manager for Spirit Cruises and as a sales and marketing director for Photogenic, a company that offers souvenir photography at museums and other tourist hot spots.

She now works part-time managing a student foreign exchange program at the Global Education Association, chamber board President Tom Van Winkle told members in an email announcing her hiring.

"She's very exuberant," Van Winkle said Wednesday, "and she's very exited about starting."

Smith, who holds a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, lives in Glen Ellyn with her husband Mike, a mechanical engineer at an Aurora company, and their daughters.

Since 2008, Smith has served on the Glen Ellyn Fourth of July Committee, an all-volunteer group that stages the annual parade and fireworks. Smith was "instrumental" in bringing food trucks to the Lake Ellyn cardboard boat regatta that kicks off the celebration, Van Winkle said.

Her predecessor, Formento, was the longtime face of the chamber, known around town as "Mr. Glen Ellyn." When he took the reins with another co-director in 2008, Formento was supposed to steer the chamber for two or three years, but ended up staying on to help move its main offices to north Main Street and to serve members weathering the Great Recession.

He later held the position on his own. In May, Formento announced he would step down after the chamber organized the Taste of Glen Ellyn.

Formento and Van Winkle approached the village board earlier this year about relocating the four-day festival to a downtown parking lot on the south side of the train tracks between Main Street and Forest Avenue.

They pitched the move because developers had eyed the festival's usual venue -- near the old Giesche Shoes store -- for an apartment complex with space for retailers on the ground floor.

But trustees at the time said that conceptual proposal was still "fairly fluid," and the festival stayed put. The board also invited businesses to continue to offer input about an alternate site for the Taste.

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