Meet Zenovia Harris, the new CEO of the Kent Chamber of Commerce

On April 1, Zenovia Harris was announced as the new CEO of the Kent Chamber of Commerce, replacing Andrea Keikkala, who left recently after ten years.

Prior to getting this gig, she was Operations Manager at the University of Phoenix.

“What impressed us most about Zenovia is her passion for community engagement, fresh ideas and her tenacity,” said Chamber President April Sta. Rosa “We believe that Zenovia is the right CEO to grow our organization and provide members and the community with new opportunities and a greater value in member services.”

As a resident of Kent, Zenovia is invested in the community, serving as Chair for the City of Kent Human Services Commission since 2013. Zenovia is a motivational speaker who spends her free time speaking to youth about turning their adversities into opportunities.

“I am honored to have been chosen as CEO,” she said. “It is a privilege to he part of an organization that focuses on being are unity resource and one that is open to innovative services that will improve the societies in which we operate.”

Harris is a dynamic young woman, and she plans to bring some new elements to the chamber, especially to minority owned businesses.

“Kent is a diverse community; you don’t have to read that in a paper – you can see it walking down the street and meeting the business owners,” she told I Love Kent. “I am excited and honored to serve a diverse population of business owners and I look forward to engaging with some of our minority owned business.”

Here’s our exclusive interview with her:

Is this your first chamber-related job?
Yes, this is my first chamber related job. However, I am familiar with Chambers and what they are tasked with through my membership to the Tacoma Chamber, Seattle Southside and Kent Chamber during my tenure at the University of Phoenix.

You officially started on Monday, April 1 – how’s it going so far?
You know, so far so good. I have received multiple messages from community leaders, city employees, chamber leaders and members of our Kent Chamber and they have all been welcoming and encouraging. Seems like they are excited about what is next for the chamber. So I am feeling very supported and encouraged about the days and weeks to come.

What can chamber members expect under your leadership?
Under my leadership members and the community can expect to have an open door for communication and ideas. I am an inclusive leader and value diversity and inclusion and will promote such. As far as changes are concerned, I think in the first year there will be minor changes because it will take some time to understand all the needs of the members and the community. But on a small scale there will be incremental changes related raising our visibility in the community, creating and maintaining a good relationship with government affairs and but not limited to the type of events we will hold in 2019. Members and the community can expect to see more collaborations between some of our local chambers.

What are your thoughts on the business climate in Kent?
I believe the business community climate is changing, just like other cities. I believe there is always room for improvement but it is important that we work together to ensure our voices are heard. I think business owners want to be a valued partner with the city, a profitable business and a good steward for their consumers. The best way to achieve any goal would be to have open, honest and respectful communication between all stakeholders. As a chamber our goal will be to help facilitate and participate in those conversations with the business community’s input and interest first.

Will the chamber’s relationship with the City of Kent change at all?
My goal is for the Chamber to have a very productive working relationship with the City of Kent. There are many important issues we can partner together on for mutual benefit. We will not always agree, but the Chamber will always operate professionally and respectfully in dealing with the City.

Where and when can people meet you?
I would like to do is invite anyone reading this article to join me at our President’s Gala on May 17, 2019. Register at https://kentchamber.ejoinme.org/galatickets. I will be making a few statements about the direction of the chamber and would love to hear feedback and get support from the community.

Do you have any long or short-term plans for the chamber?
My short-term goals for the chamber consist of meeting with three sets of members – past, present and potential members – to find out what we can offer to make their membership valuable; my long term goal will be taking that information and making changes that best fit our members and the community. We are here to serve and advocate so my goal will always be to keep a pulse on the needs of the community and do our best to ensure we are a partner, planner and gateway to help organization succeed.

What are your hobbies? Have any pets or other loved ones?
My hobbies consist of camping in our RV with my husband Archie and our 12-year-old daughter Alexis. I love to dance; I will dance to any type of music. I am a home body but I love being at home entertaining friends and family. My husband is the cook of the family so I play sous chef most days unless we are having breakfast for dinner then I am in my element. I am and will always be an avid volunteer and help in places that provide the underserved with a voice and a choice.

VIDEO INTERVIEW
Here’s a short interview clip with Zenovia, shot at a chamber event on Feb. 18, 2019 when she was one of four finalist candidates for the job:

For more information, visit https://kentchamber.com.