Around seven years ago, Rhonda Carlson found her love for the nonprofit world when she began volunteering for an organization in the greater Cleveland area that helped under-served and at-risk populations.
It set in motion a desire to give back to her community that led her to go back to college for nonprofit management and today take a position to serve the Peoria community, particularly the business community.
Carlson recently took over the position of Peoria Chamber of Commerce CEO. She replaces former CEO Scot Andrews who stepped down earlier this year.
She said working in various industries over her professional career, the chamber sparked her interest to work for a nonprofit that directly serves the business community and works closely with government agencies to both promote the city and advocate for the businesses that call Peoria and its surrounding areas home.
“As a Peoria resident, I of course want to see my community thrive and feel fortunate to have found a role that will allow me to have a part in doing so,” she said.
Get to now Carlson more here.
City/town you grew up in: Cleveland, Ohio
Number of years you’ve lived in Peoria: 1.5 years
Personal background highlights:
Professional background highlights:
What would you like the Peoria business community to know about you?
I am a strong advocate for collaboration to get things done. Coming from the nonprofit world, it is so vital to identify partnerships that can advance mutual, mission-based initiatives that make a greater impact in improving the community. I look forward to making connections with so many great businesses and agencies in Peoria, getting a better understanding of their successes and struggles, and identifying ways the chamber can foster growth and offer opportunities that will make Peoria an even better place to work, play, and live.
What are three positives about the Peoria business community?
While still a somewhat recent resident to Peoria (and the state of Arizona), I look forward to gaining a greater understanding of the many great businesses that call Peoria home. In the time I have lived here and even in just my first day with the chamber, I have found many within the business community are tremendous advocates for city-wide growth and are interested in finding ways to mutually support a more vibrant community not just for the sake of their own livelihood but for more of a shared benefit for businesses and residents alike. There is very much a “roll up your sleeves” mentality I have already seen in the way many give of their time in support of the community as a whole and as someone that considers herself a public servant at heart, appreciate that work ethic and selflessness.
What are three things that could improve about the Peoria business community?
There is so much opportunity for growth in Peoria and some exciting projects down the pike that will make it even more attractive for potential businesses to set up shop. I look forward to seeing an even greater variety of businesses that will decide to call Peoria home in the future.
What is your first order of business at the chamber?
My first steps as president and CEO will be identifying and strengthening partnerships that will reinforce the chamber’s standing in the community as a vital resource for businesses and residents. Part of that process will be re-establishing a physical location for the chamber, recruiting a dedicated staff that will best serve our membership, and implementing new opportunities that will add value to the resources the chamber already provides.
Name a few future goals for the chamber.
While developing a solid strategic plan for the chamber will be an additional priority for myself and our board of directors, the goals of the chamber should center on advocacy, connection and growth. The chamber should very much serve as a voice for its members, while also equipping those same businesses with resources to be more successful. Those resources often include events and networking opportunities that facilitate awareness and build relationships that will serve a common purpose, but it can go far beyond that. There is so much untapped potential for what the chamber can become, and I welcome the opportunity to lead the charge.
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