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Chamber director attends Institute

Carin Weier works 20 hours a week as assistant to the executive director Jennifer Shaw at the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce office.  - SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times
Carin Weier works 20 hours a week as assistant to the executive director Jennifer Shaw at the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce office.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times

The executive director of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Shaw, enjoyed a week of special training through the Institute for Organization Management, thanks to a scholarship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Shaw was one of 73 nonprofit professionals who benefitted from a $500 Regent Scholarships to attend a training program in nonprofit education and professional development.

Shaw attended classes at Marymount College in La Jolla, Calif. from

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 13-17, with evening activities every night. This was her first solo trip on an airplane.

“It was intense,” Shaw said.

“Now I need a vacation to review everything I learned,” Shaw joked.

In her second year as director of the chamber, Shaw said the class made her realize how well her office is doing.

“It made me feel really good because we have so much in place already,” Shaw said. She intends to make good use of the lessons on delegating by handing over many of the projects she has been responsible for in the past year, such as the chamber’s monthly newsletter and various other correspondence.

Her new assistant, Carin Weier, will take on more of the newsletter tasks and her volunteers, Jeni Kunkel, Victoria Gavrishchuk and Dorothy Peterson, will maintain the office data base and be responsible for other correspondence such as meeting reminders.

“Carin is a wonderful addition to the chamber team and I am excited to have her in the office,” Shaw said.

“I look forward to going out to meet people and doing more big picture planning,” she said.

“Like the ambassador program,” she said. “That committee has taken the idea and run with it.”

The IOM is a four-year program, held at five sites each year — four in the summer and one in the winter. Most participants attend the one-week session at the same site each year, developing relationships with others in the industry to build a network for sharing ideas.

Instead, Shaw intends to quicken the process by attending two week-long sessions each year.

“I learned so much about strategic planning, about the importance of an involved board and how to be a better director,” Shaw said. “I want to finish the program in two years instead of four.”

Shaw said she learned a lot about the financial aspects of a nonprofit and the new income tax 990 forms that are coming out for next year. Shaw said her current board of directors is very proactive and is always coming up with a lot of new ideas.

“I learned that we need to operate much like a for-profit business,” Shaw said.

The vice president of the Institute, a subsidiary of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Raymond P. Towle said the national Chamber of Commerce is pleased to help the chamber professionals build their careers.

“Regent scholarships offer these executives the opportunity to learn about emerging industry trends, expand their organizations’ influence, and grow their peer network,” Towle said.

Upon successful completion of the program, Shaw will be awarded a IOM certificate recording 96 hours of course instruction in association, chamber, and nonprofit management. The scholarship covered $500 out of the total cost of $1,300, Shaw said. The Arlington-Smokey Chamber of Commerce covered the balance and allowed Shaw to leave the office to enhance her skills.

For information about the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber call 360-659-5453.

For more information about the scholarship program, call 202-463-5570.

A list of all scholarship recipients and the application criteria can be found at www.uschamber.com/institute/scholarships.

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