Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce hires new director

Arlene Alen

Arlene Alen

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Chamber has hired an Arizona woman as its new executive director, effective April 1, it was announced Wednesday.

Arlene Alen, who now serves as the president and CEO of the Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center near Prescott, Ariz., will succeed Teresa Verraes who stepped down in November to become executive director of the Port Townsend School of the Arts.

“We’re excited to welcome her here,” said Rob Birman, chamber board president. “She’s going to be a good fit in the region and I know she’s excited to relocate.”

Because Alen cannot begin her new role until April 1 due to contract terms, the board named Magdalene Adenau, chamber strategic director, acting executive director effective Jan. 1.

“Magdalene is a hero to all of us,” said chamber Vice President Karen Best.

“She has been at the forefront of the revival of our Young Professionals Network since her arrival in 2016 and she’s been the leading resource for member stewardship and recruitment throughout 2017.”

Alen is a graduate of Arizona State University with a post-graduate certification in public administration management and is certified through the Institute of Organizational Management.

She earned an undergraduate degree in architecture and design from Carnegie Mellon University and University of California — Los Angeles and served on the city council and as vice mayor for the town of Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz., from 2012-2017.

Birman said about 40 people applied for the position. A recruiter whittled the applications down to about a dozen finalists for the board to choose from during two rounds of interviews.

“She brings the total package,” Birman said.

He said chamber board members were looking for a person with chamber knowledge and experience, and financial and economic experience. He said her experience as a council member and vice mayor is also a plus.

Alen will take the helm as the chamber moves into a transitional period. The Visitor Information Center will be integrated with the city of Port Townsend’s tourism promotions.

In addition to Verraes’ move, two other full-time positions, member services director and VIC manager, were vacated at the end of 2017.

“We’re fortunate, in one sense, that these changes came during a relatively quiet period of the year,” Birman said.

“It is never easy replacing talented staff, but appointing our new director is naturally the first step.”

In 2017, the chamber increased total memberships to 430, compared to 408 in 2016, Birman said.

The chamber recruited 72 new members in 2017, up from 51 in 2016. It earned $119,278 in memberships in 2017 on a budget of $244,500.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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