KENNEBUNK, Maine — The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce has a new leader at the helm.
The organization’s new executive director, Denise Clavette, began the position last week and planned to be available to meet with members and nonmembers alike Thursday night for an auction and Business After Hours event at Duffy’s Tavern and Grill.
Clavette, who is the wife of Kennebunkport’s former town manager Larry Mead, who now holds that position in Old Orchard Beach where the couple lives, was most recently the business development manager for the town of Brunswick. She also has a 20-year history as a director of parks and recreation, including holding that position in the town of Kennebunk from 1984 to 1986.
“It’s like coming back home,” Clavette said. “For years I’ve been involved in community. I’ve been a community leader. That’s an important part of who I am but also what I believe communities need.”
Within that background, Clavette said she has experience with strategic planning, marketing, and helping small and large businesses develop and grow. She has worked to retain and attract businesses, and has experience with a variety of resources like grant opportunities and more.
“One of the assets that I do have is the breadth of experience and being able to lend my abilities in a variety of arenas that will bring the Chamber to a new level,” Clavette said.
With the departure of the organization’s last executive director, Suzanne McKechnie, who was with the Chamber for less than a year, Clavette, who signed a three-year contract, said she is looking forward to leading the Chamber forward with consistency and professionalism. The group has a strong membership base, an active board of directors, and a solid staff, she said.
“Helping people understand that, yes, the Chamber is in good hands with its staff and its phenomenal board. We’re all part of what makes it work,” she said. “It’s a team.”
Looking to the future of the organization, Clavette said she would like to work more closely with the towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel in the areas of economic development and business development.
“I would like to work on focused, collaborative ventures around how we can integrate economic development,” she said. “I have worked with chambers of commerce throughout my entire career.”
As executive director, Clavette said she believes in an “open door philosophy,” and wants Chamber members and nonmembers to feel comfortable coming to her with any questions, ideas, or to learn more about the organization.