2013-10-25 / Community

Chamber has new executive director

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Denise Clavette of Old Orchard Beach has been chosen as the new executive director for the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

Clavette, who is business development manager for the town of Brunswick, set a precedent by signing a three-year contract for the position. Clavette is married to former Kennebunkport Town Manager, Larry Mead, who is now the town manager for Old Orchard Beach.

Her appointment follows Suzanne McKechnie’s resignation after less than a year on the job.

Clavette said she would rather wait until she had a few days in the new position before giving an interview.

David “Duffy” Cluff, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke of her skills.

“Last year when we had gone through the hiring process, Denise had come out as our number-one pick,” said Cluff. “After negotiating with her salary and other things, we weren’t able to come to an agreement, so at that time we thought it would be best to move on.”

According to a press release distributed by the Chamber of Commerce after McKechnie’s resignation, “The Chamber’s Executive Board immediately began considering what our options would be for both an interim director as well as a full-time director. Following Suzanne’s departure we had a conversation with Denise and discovered that she was again interested in the position and that her conflicts had been resolved.”

Board member Sarah Lindblom said offering

Clavette the position was a “no-brainer.”

“She’s familiar with the politics, she’s familiar with the area. I think it’s great and wonderful that it all worked out,” Lindblom said.

“We’re excited to have her come on board,” Cluff said. “She brings a host of experience not only in government and event planning, but most recently she was the economic development coordinator for Brunswick.

“She comes with a lot of years of experience managing budgets and departments.”

The idea of a three-year contract for Clavette was mutually agreed upon, said Lindblom. “We’re looking at at least a sixyear relationship,” Lindblom said. “As always, we’re moving forward, and indeed we do have stability in mind.”

The chamber has hired several executive directors during a short period of time — a contributing factor in Clavette’s contract.

“We have had high turnover with this position. We needed to make that commitment in moving forward. The chamber is on the rise,” Cluff said.

“Because of her vast experience, we were in agreement to go with a contract,” Cluff said. “We’ve never been asked for (a three-year contract) and Denise asked for it. The board has never moved that way. Because of what she has to bring to the job the board was confident to enter in to that agreement,” Cluff said. “They (the board) are confident she is the right person. We want to have a long-lasting relationship with her.”

Clavette will begin her term as executive director on Nov. 12.

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