Interim No More
It’s been five months since the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce had a full-time permanent executive director in place. That’s until Monday’s news that Acacia Pangilinan, who had been serving as interim Executive Director since Deb McLelland left at the end of 2018, had the ‘interim’ tag taken off her title and was given the job for good.
Tuesday is officially Day One on the job for the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director, but Pangilinan is far from a new face around the Chamber office. Pangilinan previously worked as the Chamber’s program and events manager, and for the past five months has been filling in for her predecessor, McLelland.
“Deb did an amazing job building a great foundation here at the Chamber, and it’s because of that that the Chamber is able to pivot now and be the Chamber of tomorrow,” Pangilinan tells CFJC Today. “I have a very specific vision of what I think our Chamber can be, and I think that I bring lots of new ideas — just based on my experience that I’ve had within the community — to this role.”
Pangilinan says her vision is one of inclusivity in the face of the changing business climate in the community, which means branching out to try to show what the Chamber of Commerce can offer to the young businesspeople of Kamloops.
“A businessperson coming out this year is totally different than someone who was starting out in business 15, 20 or 40 years ago,” Pangilinan explains. “What we offer our membership has to accommodate the changing face of business. To do that we have to basically flip our organization on its head and look at how we get members, what types of support we can give a ‘solo-preneur’ or someone who’s maybe just focusing on the gig economy.”
“She’s got lots of passion to include… maybe some businesses we haven’t necessarily reached, some industries we haven’t reached, some sectors we haven’t reached and to really communicate that effectively,” Chamber President Joshua Knaak explains. “We’re really excited about that.”
Knaak says that vision is what set Pangilinan apart from the other candidates. He believes the key is convincing those businesses and businesspeople of the value that exists in Chamber membership.
“The Chamber has programs, we have services that offer benefit and impact to all businesses,” Knaak says. “The reality is we need to be more effective in communicating that to the broader business community.”
So now that the top job is her’s, Pangilinan says she’s excited to get to work.
“I am thrilled,” she says. “I love the Chamber; I love Kamloops, so to have the opportunity to make an impact like this is incredible. I’m ecstatic.”
In March, the Chamber hired John Perks to serve in the executive director role, but his hiring was rescinded after controversial social media posts came to light.