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Hayden Chamber changes leadership

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | December 12, 2020 1:00 AM

HAYDEN — Andrea Fulks, a Hayden native and longtime chamber volunteer, has been named the Hayden Chamber of Commerce's new executive director.

The self-proclaimed "guru of fun," Fulks has over 25 years of chamber experience, previously serving as an ambassador, board member, and 2007 Volunteer of the Year for the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Fulks has worked for the Inland Northwest SIDS Foundation and in the banking industry for decades.

There are many reasons Fulks continues to participate in chamber activities, she said, notably the unshakable support and lifelong friendship it's gifted her.

"The camaraderie between members, having them to lean on, and being able to go to them for help is amazing," she said. "If you need something, you've got people that you've connected with and become friends with."

Besides her professional history, Fulks believes her enthusiasm, go-getter attitude, and communication skills are strengths she brings to the Chamber.

Fulks is determined to increase membership and foster a positive working relationship with chamber members. As the vision of leadership for the Hayden Chamber's board of directors, it will be Fulk's responsibility to provide guidance and information to businesses during one of the most unpredictable times in history.

"I want to make sure that it's a team," she said. "They're not employees, so I'm not governing them as employees. We all know how we should work together, and they have a great relationship now, and I want to keep that up."

Fulks' predecessor, Kandi Johnson, brought years of chamber know-how to the executive director title 18 months ago. Johnson served under the Coeur d'Alene Regional Chamber board of directors from 2009 to 2012 and was the interim executive director for the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce for six months.

"You use that knowledge that comes from the board of directors with leadership because you're the face of the organization that you're representing," Johnson said. "So if somebody thinks of the Hayden Chamber, they are going to think of Andrea."

A misconception about the Chamber, Johnson said, is that it is a mere networking group. While there is a lot of networking involved, she said, the Chamber primarily serves as a resource of information for and about the Hayden business community.

Whether it's getting involved with events, sending out emails, driving marketing strategies, or lobbying for business representatives with lawmakers, Johnson said Fulks' most significant task will be preparing for the future.

"The biggest thing is to have one step in the present but also one foot in the future," Johnson said. "You always have to know where it's going because otherwise, it's going to run off and leave you somewhere else. Especially with COVID right now, we don't know day to day what's going to happen."

Johnson has accepted a position with Ziply Fiber as the Community Development Manager, where she'll act as the company's face within the area. Johnson said she will continue to work with the regional chambers, but from a different role.

"My heart is here at the Chamber, and I love what I do," Johnson said. "Now I just get to help them in a different way and maybe even expand them. My company's not currently a member, but they will be."

Johnson thinks the most significant thing she has done — and Fulks will do — in the executive director position is add value.

"We tried to add value into this community in many ways," Johnson said. "You might be trying to promote members or calling them up because their industry is struggling right now and ask how can I help you. There is always something to do."

Her full trust is now with Fulks, Johnson said. Hearing her background and the strengths she'll bring to the Chamber will be critical to pushing the organization forward.

"I think that she can take it to the next level with her skills and a background that will be able to support her," Johnson said. "I'm thrilled and delighted. You might say the changing of this role is good too because it brings a fresh excitement to the Chamber. It brings that breath of life in."