WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Chamber of Commerce has welcomed a new executive director, following the exit of director Brittany Chiles, who led the WOCC for two and a half years. Taking over the position is Jessica Marrone Parkes, a co-owner of TapintoWestOrange.net, as well as TapintoLivingston.net and TapintoWestEssex.net. Chiles is moving on to communications consulting for organizations.
“It was wonderful, I met some of the most dynamic people that I know,” Chiles said of leading the WOCC in an April 16 phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle. “It was a great experience to help people with the things that I’m good at and to work together.”
One of the things that Chiles focused on during her time with the WOCC was how the organization could work with its members. From 2015 to 2018, membership increased by 47 percent and Chiles started an ambassador process to connect board members to new business owners.
“One of the biggest things we looked at was how to be more efficient,” Chiles said. “And we worked with our members more. We shifted time spent and resources to creating that environment.”
In a letter to the community, Chiles said that she believes the WOCC is now in a good place to continue building those relationships with business owners.
“I am equally excited about this new phase of our local chamber,” she wrote. “Having focused on key areas of this organization to improve and add value, the West Orange Chamber is in the ideal place to focus on member engagement and gaining a larger audience.”
Chiles thinks that she created a space at the WOCC where operations are more efficient and that she maximized the opportunities for both the organization and business owners in West Orange.
“That was what I worked on, I had a good idea where growth can happen and where change can happen,” she told the Chronicle. “We ran things more smoothly, discussed what the values were and what would be most useful to a member. We also looked at where we could increase new membership.”
A graduate of the University of Miami, Parkes has a professional background in sales and business development. She wants to build on the work that Chiles did in her time working for the WOCC. In an introductory letter to the community, she wrote, “I plan to follow Brittany’s lead with the open projects pending for this year, in addition to working toward my own goals, which mainly revolve around personal relationship building. This year, the board and I will be conducting more face-to-face meetings to help our members identify their needs and locate other members that may have solutions for them.”
Parkes wants to encourage more people in West Orange to get involved, and expand the member network. One way she wants to accomplish that is by using the member portal.
Parkes is also bringing two other staff members to the WOCC with her; Kai Lin will manage the WOCC website, communication and member portal, and Bianca Prieto will write press releases and a monthly newsletter, as well as managing the WOCC’s social media.
In her letter, Parkes said that one of her key goals in her new position is “to support local commerce by providing a platform where businesses can effectively market their businesses. Given the mission of the West Orange Chamber and what I have already been dedicated to doing in West Orange, I knew that I wanted to step into this role.”