SARANAC LAKE - Katy Van Anden has been hired as the new, part-time executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber's board of directors announced her hiring in an email message to its members Tuesday night.
"She brings a great deal of energy to the chamber and is excited to become more involved with the Saranac Lake's regional community," the board's email says. "Katy looks forward to meeting and understanding the needs of all of the membership and creating a collaborative environment that will provide benefits to all."
Katy Van Anden, named Tuesday as the new director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, is seen as archbishop of the 2009 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.
(Enterprise file photo — Ben Sehon)
Van Anden, a 2002 graduate of Saranac Lake High School whose parents own Lakeview Deli, takes over leadership of the village's largest business organization following the May resignation of its prior director, Sylvie Nelson.
The chamber was initially going to hire a full-time director, but chamber board President Craig Stevens said the organization was only able to offer prospective candidates a part-time position because of financial constraints.
"We had 19 total applications," Stevens said this morning. "We got back to them asking if part-time would still be acceptable to them. Three said, 'No, thank you,' six or seven did not respond, and the rest were sorted through and vetted out. The search committee, of which I was not a part of, vetted out the top three and interviewed them.
"Katy floated right to the top because of her knowledge of the area, her boundless energy and because she has a lot of good ideas. She really wants to make the chamber work."
Van Anden graduated magna cum laude from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a dual-concentration business degree in event management and marketing. She worked in event management in western Massachusettes and Saranac Lake, and has overseen grants for North Country Management Services in Saranac Lake.
Van Anden has been involved in the Saranac Lake Women's Civic Chamber, local fundraising efforts, and choreography for Saranac Lake's Winter Carnival Court and the Saranac Lake High School musicals.
Although Van Anden has no prior experience working for a chamber of commerce, Stevens didn't think that was a drawback.
"She knows the town," he said. "She has a degree in events management, which she can certainly put to use. The work experience with her parents' business is going to provide a lot of help. I don't see any lack of chamber experience holding her back at all."
Her father, John Van Anden, is a permanent member of the chamber board.
Katy Van Anden will inherit a chamber that has been in a rebuilding mode amid financial struggles and disputes within its board over the organization's direction and focus.
Just last month, the chamber announced that it would shift gears to become a member-services-only organization and that it planned hand off its tourism and marketing roles to the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. And within the last decade, the chamber has backed out of running the array of events it used to manage.
Stevens said Van Anden is on board with the new direction.
"We made that pretty clear from the get go," he said. "Nothing's set in stone yet, but that's the direction we think we'll be taking. We'll be focusing on member services and local marketing, like putting out the visitor guide. If we're able to work out a deal with ROOST, they would do the larger marketing efforts."
Van Anden's first official day on the job will be Monday. She'll initially work 20 hours a week, Stevens said.
Chamber members were invited to meet Van Anden at the organization's annual holiday mixer on Dec. 12 at the Adirondack Carousel.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.