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Director Duo divides and conquers duties at Chamber of Commerce

By Jeri Pearson

The day-to-day dynamics at the Mena Polk County Chamber of Commerce have shifted with the resignation of Pasha Watson, the former executive director of the chamber. After a hiring process, Marisa Johnson, formerly the secretary to the chamber director, has taken on a new role and Whitney Horne has been hired as the executive director of the chamber.

Horne’s duties include planning Chamber events and programs, dealing directly with the Chamber membership and their benefits, and is the overall face of the Chamber.

Johnson was promoted to the Executive Director of Advertising & Events. Her duties include fulfilling the Chamber’s contract with the City of Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission as their Marketing & Festival Consultant. This includes planning city events and handling their marketing.

Previously the chamber had one Executive Director whose responsibilities encompassed both roles, and the second position was an Administrative Assistant. 

“With two Executive Directors, each ED will be able to truly focus on their respective duties,” Johnson explained. “We will still work together on all events and programs, but this restructuring will allow us to focus on the larger parts of our duties at the same time.

“I feel confident that we will bring dedication and a drive to succeed to Chamber and the A&P. Whitney and I are both passionate about doing the best for our community and the businesses we represent,” Johnson continued. “We are willing to put in the work and make sure that everything is a success.”

Horne echoed Johnson’s statements.

“I hope that we can make a difference for our business and community. We want to see the issues and needs that arise and find a solution that benefits everyone,” she said. “Marisa and I will strive to deliver entertaining events, helpful member programs, and successful marketing to our businesses and the city.”

The duo at the helm of the chamber’s endeavors said they have much to look forward to.

“We’re looking forward to being a part of Mena’s growth. From helping our local businesses, to promoting the city, we want what is best for our community. We are excited to bring back our local events after a rough year of cancellations. Moving forward is our constant goal.”

The board said this was an optimal time to restructure.

“The Executive Board discussed the challenges of one person representing two, separate, albeit similar, organizations. The two most distinct differences being each are governed by two different and independent boards and the second in the funding. The A&P is funded through the collection of tax dollars and the Chamber is membership driven… Separate but equal directors that collaborate on events would enable us to streamline those processes and minimize any confusion within the community of who does what.”

“Each of our directors bring to the table experience, enthusiasm, energy and complimentary skillsets. With the many advancements made by previous directors and the solid foundations provided by each respective board, we believe this new structure will allow us to take our events to the next level while making new strides in growing and supporting our community.”

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