Candidate’s local ties, business experience set her apart from talented field
After interviewing a deep pool of candidates, the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce board looked to an established local leader as its new executive director.
Lesley Lavender, a longtime board member with The County Foundation who has been director of community and development and special projects for the Recreation Outreach Centre will begin her tenure Jan. 7. She replaces Emily Cowan, who took a job with the County’s community development department in October.
She says she’s looking forward to serving the local business community.
“I’m excited to be striking the right balance between a vital economy and preserving and enjoying the quality of life Prince Edward County offers. I’m looking forward to the challenge of propelling the county forward as a strong business community.”
Lavender says she is ready to hit the ground running as she knows a lot of local people through her charitable work, volunteerism with youth and sport, and her involvement with husband Tod Lavender in small business through Ainsworth Funeral Home and Lavender Furniture, staples in Wellington for over 100 years.
“I know a diverse range of people. I’ve met a lot of old county and new county and I can strike a balance between the two with my personal experience and connection, my years of service in Prince Edward County and the many hats I’ve worn.”
She believes the new opportunity is bringing her career full circle. She started working in advertising and marketing in Toronto, with major international agencies. Since relocating to the county in 2001, she put her skills in marketing and promotions to the test in more entrepreneurial roles. A move into the charitable sector has also offered valued experiences.
“All my career lessons have really led my to this point,” sh said. “I’m hoping to be able to use those lessons learned and experiences to do the best job I possibly can for the businesses of Prince Edward County.”
Lavender said in the lead-up to her start date, she hopes to talk with Cowan, Chamber president Sandra Latchford, and other board members to get the lay of the land. Consultation with businesses will also be an important focus of her early days in the role.
“It’s going to be a learning and feeling out. I want to help with business-to-business activity and the support of local businesses,” she said. “I intend on starting my tenure listening, learning what people want, and I’ll do my best to make things come to fruition.”
She said she’s eager to meet members at the Chamber’s Dec. 13 mix-and-mingle at the Drake Devonshire Inn.
A committee of four including Latchford, Penny Rolinski, Katy Mitchell, and Philip Bender sifted through a number of high-quality applicants and interviewed several, Latchford said. They were confident in their choice.
“Lesley stood out for her experience, marketing savvy, and ability to create and expand relationships with members, the media, and the County tourism industry,” Latchford said in a release.
Added Rolinski: “We found Lesley to be engaging, energetic, experienced, and connected to a variety of industries, tourism advocates and business leaders across Prince Edward County. Her presence in the community, knowledge of local government and connections with our local commerce make her a perfect fit for this position.”