photo: Moments by Andrea Photography
After four years with the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, executive director Janeen Leppert has decided to move on. She accepted a job with a PR/marketing firm in Charlotte, NC and will be relocating, leaving the Chamber with the need to find a replacement. Her last day is this Thursday, Oct. 15.
“I have loved Wilton. One of the things I loved is the positivity here. Everyone is so philanthropic here, and there’s a cute, quaint feel. I feel so fortunate to do what I did here; we have diverse members⎯retailers, restaurants, professional services, and each category and member has its own needs. So I really got to learn a lot about what businesses need and about each different business,” Leppert says.
Fall and early winter are busy seasons for the Chamber, so Leppert’s departure will leave a hole. According to the Chamber’s new president, Mark Ketley, board members will pitch in for upcoming events while a search for a longterm replacement will have to start.
“The Chamber Board of Directors are looking at our options in the short term, while putting together a search plan for the new executive director. Members of the board will work together on the upcoming fall events, such as the Halloween Walk and Halloween Hustle to make sure they are great as always,” Ketley says.
Leppert says the board has become even stronger in recent weeks, with the addition of three new members⎯Bd. of Selectmen member Mike Kaelin, Will Maxwell from Outdoor Sports Center, and the Village Market‘s Tim Dolnier.
One of Leppert’s biggest accomplishment, she feels, has been revitalizing the Chamber’s brand image.
“Pushing people to ‘Shop Wilton. Dine Wilton. Enjoy Wilton.‘ And I tried to bring the Chamber up into the 21st century. Being active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and providing Wilton businesses with a platform to the community through social media. I tried to do a lot of highlighting businesses through social media.”
During her time, she says the Chamber structured many events.
“We have a solid base of events and initiatives, which is an exciting time for the Chamber. And for Wilton. We’re at a turning point and it will be cool to see what happens from here on out. The Chamber and Wilton are in a really good place to grow,” she says.
One of the things Leppert hopes will grow is solidifying Wilton’s ‘brand’ of quaint and charm.
“Wilton is so different from Ridgefield and New Canaan and Westport. I’d love to see Wilton have a strong identity that’s different from those towns. This is a really cute and quaint town, and people move here because they want that. They don’t want something like Westport and New Canaan. They want to walk down the street and know everybody. I hope [Wilton] will establish that brand a little more.”
Chamber board member Ann Nash (who owns Signature Style), is sad to see Leppert go. “Janeen is amazing to work with and really brought the Chamber into the 21st century. She will be missed terribly but we are excited for her on her big move to Charlotte.”
Fairfield County Bank‘s Carol Johnson agrees, Leppert will be missed. “Janeen has done a phenomenal job during her tenure as the executive director of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce. Her vision, her commitment, and her unending energy had poised the organization for a dynamic and successful future. We will miss Janeen greatly and are so very grateful for all she had done for our community.”
The admiration goes both ways, says Leppert, which makes leaving a bit easier.
“We’ve got a great board of directors that’s going to guide the Chamber in the next phase. We’re really engaging the small business owners, the staples of Wilton. That’s important.”