New executive director takes the helm at DeLand Chamber

New woman in charge — Lacey Ekberg recently took the reins at the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance.

PHOTO COURTESY LACEY EKBERG

New woman in charge — Lacey Ekberg recently took the reins at the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance.

After a six-month search, a new executive director is now in charge at the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance.

Lacey Ekberg started her new job Jan. 3.

Ekberg has been a “tourism specialist” since 2001, and has led or worked at agencies in 32 states. She comes to DeLand after a six-month stint in Tarpon Springs, which followed two years in Key West.

With Ekberg’s hiring, Sally Updike relinquishes her role as interim executive director. Updike had been serving as the temporary head since Nick Conte left last July to become the economic-development director for the City of Holly Hill. Updike will resume her role as the organization’s operations manager.

Ekberg applied to be Conte’s replacement because the DeLand Chamber is relatively stable, unlike some of her previous positions.

“It’s not an explosive Chamber,” she told The Beacon on her second day on the job. “There are no major issues. Some of the others were major [rehabilitation] projects.”

Susie Dolan, municipal marketing director for Waste Pro of Central Florida and the 2017 Chamber president, said Ekberg’s hiring accomplishes Dolan’s biggest goal for the year.

“My biggest plan was to get an amazing person like Lacey in here,” Dolan said. “We’re going to do some really big things, and Lacey is just the person to lead us. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

For her part, Ekberg’s primary goal is to make the Chamber more relevant, both to its members and to the community.

“This is a legacy Chamber, the oldest in the state, and it should be distinguished and a big powerhouse,” she noted. “We also need to build relationships with the county and surrounding cities by having face-to-face meetings and open communication with people.”

Ekberg is “happily married” to Jeff, and the couple live in Edgewater with their miniature schnauzer. But Ekberg said she’s looking for property on this side of the county so they can move here.

Despite her nomadic past, Ekberg is planning to stay in DeLand for quite a while.

“If they’ll keep me,” she said. “I’m hoping they will keep me here for a long time.”

- Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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