SOUTHINGTON - The Southington Chamber of Commerce has announced that Barbara Hekeler is returning to be the new executive director.
“I was honored and humbled when they asked me to come back,” said Hekeler. “It was perfect timing. I was at a point where the consulting work I was doing was part time and I had a flexible schedule while my daughters were growing up. Now, they are both in college out of state and I’m ready to go back to a full-time schedule. Not many women get the opportunity to leave work, raise a family, and then go back to the job they never wanted to leave in the first place.”
Hekeler previously served as executive director of the business advocacy organization from 1993 to 1999.
“I cannot wait to get to work, meet with former and new colleagues, and experience that powerful synergy that drives the success of the Southington business community,” said Hekeler. “I am honored beyond expression at the interest, respect, and enthusiasm Dawn (Miceli, the chamber’s board chair) and the entire Board of Directors has shown me.”
Hekeler’s official start date is July 9, but she said Monday that she has already started working in the office to assess “internal structures and affairs” such as personnel and volunteer policies, budgets, and sources of revenue.
“I heard that the chamber is really strong right now, but I want to see everything in front of me,” she said.
Miceli said the Board of Directors was impressed with Hekeler’s knowledge of the local community as well as her past experience at the helm.
“She will be able to jump right into the position and gain ground immediately, moving the chamber forward in a positive manner – from strengthening our member base to forming civic and community partnerships,” said Miceli.
Hekeler said she wishes to adopt a policy of open communication with business owners, town leaders and other community partners. She said that, 20 years ago, she used to spend the first three hours of her day going from Marion Avenue to Queen Street, stopping in and visiting local business owners. She said that she is more than happy to meet with people at their place of business, learn what they do and share with them what the chamber can offer to help them succeed.
According to Miceli, Hekeler was able to triple membership during her previous tenure as executive director.
“She demonstrated strength in her fiduciary capabilities, having produced six consecutive surpluses and grew a reserve to protect the future of the chamber,” said Miceli. “Barbara Hekeler earned national accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the organization and was named Chamber Executive of the Year in 1998.”
Miceli added that Hekeler was also able to successfully lobby to secure an enterprise zone, town infrastructure needs and grants for the revitalization of downtown during her past tenure as executive director.
Miceli said that, despite the passing of years, Hekeler maintained many of the relationships she cultivated with Southington businesses and local officials.
Miceli said Hekeler is an “accomplished executive” with more than 20 years of organizational and operational management experience. Most recently, she was business development consultant for PSC International in New Britain.
Hekeler’s educational background includes receiving a Bachelor of Art degree in communications and organizational management from Villanova University, as well as numerous professional certifications including a Sixth Year Certification as a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.