Andrea Huss was recently hired as Executive Director of the Lopez Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. As part of our focus on Women in Business on Lopez, we asked Huss a few questions about her role as director, the history of women in Chambers of Commerce, and what she sees as the challenges and rewards of being in business during these interesting times.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you lived on the island? What special skills and qualities do you bring to the position of director?
A. I’m an artist at heart that loves community and bringing people together. I’ve lived on Lopez for 17 years and am in the process of raising three children with my wonderful husband, Jesse. Our goal is to slow down enough to enjoy these precious days as we know we’re lucky enough to live in paradise.
I feel like I’m able to bring kindness to the table and a listening ear. Every voice is valuable, and I believe I can be our local business advocate and help amplify what they have to offer.
Q. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing island businesses as COVID restrictions continue?
A. I see division as our biggest obstacle. I believe we’re at a turning point and if we support each other in kindness and love and see each other as fellow human beings, we have a greater chance of coming out of this pandemic stronger than ever.
Q. The roles of women in business, and in Chamber leadership positions have changed dramatically over the years. In February, Suzanne Clark was appointed CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the first woman to hold that position in the organization’s 109-year history. What do that and other changes say to you about the future of the Chamber of Commerce?
A. I think it shows that our society has grown and matured enough to embrace a more well-rounded approach to leadership. I for one am thrilled to see this change!
Q. What do you feel is the role of the Chamber in the business community? In the larger island community?
A. I believe our role is first and foremost to support our businesses, help them connect to those in the community and, beyond that, value what they have to offer; and to help organize events and services that highlight our business’s talents; and offer them a platform for their business to thrive.
Q. What would you like to see the Chamber focus on in 2022?
A. Community. It is my goal next year to bring people together, grassroots style. I believe that if we blindly go our separate ways, we’ll suffer island-wide. I want to highlight and bring together our vibrant artists, our dedicated frontline workers, and our solid tradesmen and women that keep this island ticking. Even though we have differences, together we’re stronger and together we’ll thrive.
Q. What would you like the community to know about you and why you took the job as executive director?
A. I took this job because I love the people of this island and I’m in a place in my life where I want my career to reflect where my heart is. I want to bring a personal touch to the way we approach our businesses. I want to bring kindness and compassion with a healthy dose of joy, as life is beautiful! I’m excited to be in the thick of all that is Lopez, brainstorm with folks, and find solutions to whatever challenges arise. Call me naive, but I’m very optimistic as I see the beautiful people of this island coming together, knowing on some level that we’re ready for a fresh start.