Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Shanna Cox is congratulated Thursday on her new position by Matt Shaw at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Shanna Cox is the new chamber president.

Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Shanna Cox addresses chamber members Thursday at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Board Chairwoman Jennifer Hogan made it official Thursday during the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Martindale Country Club, where she promised members will be impressed by Cox’s “drive and commitment.”

Cox, who is active in a number of local nonprofits and five years ago started her own consulting firm, Project Tipping Point, was approached for the job and unanimously voted in by the chamber board out of a field of more than 40 candidates.

“I think this is an exciting time to be at the helm of an institution that has a long history behind it, that has a strong membership and a strong presence, not just locally but statewide, and I am honored to be in the position, surely,” Cox said a day before the public announcement.

“But mostly I am energized and I am excited about the future ahead and the relevancy that we are going to ensure is in place.”

After former President Beckie Conrad announced that she would step down after two years, Hogan said the board hired Career Management Associates to lead a search. CMA tasked board members with providing a list of qualities and attributes they wanted in the new president and CEO, along with suggested candidates. Several people suggested Cox.

Hogan said they wanted someone who could articulate the benefits of being a chamber member, a leader in the community and in business, and someone who had connections to workforce development and economic development.

“I’ll be honest: When we put that list of attributes together, we weren’t sure that that person existed,” she said. “Shanna really rose to the top right away. She had all those pieces. We’re just really excited to hit the ground running and see Shanna bring the chamber to the next level.”

Cox grew up in rural Orland and put herself through college at the University of Maine, earning a degree in economics.

“It wasn’t always an easy path,” she said. “That experience has given me, I think, a unique perspective.”

She came to the area in 2005, initially settling in Mechanic Falls before moving to Lewiston.

“I had 9-month-old twins and this was the closest work center,” Cox said. “I did some direct care social service work, and that was how I got my foot in the door in this community.”

“I was a single mom of three kids for a long time,” she added. “I worked at Fuel for a bit (and) co-founded a nonprofit that focused on housing issues and community and public health work for two years, before going to Community Concepts, where I was a community developer with them for two years.”

Cox sits on the Lewiston Planning Board and the Lewiston school board’s poverty and education subcommittee. Her community work includes mentoring in Top Gun LA, serving on the board of Community Concepts and being past president of the board of the Promise Early Education Center.

Through Project Tipping Point, she has worked with groups on issues including the environment, strategic planning and economic development.

Cox started at the chamber Monday. She said she has stopped accepting new consulting work and is winding down ongoing projects.

With nearly 900 chamber members, she plans to do a lot of listening over the next three weeks.

“The chamber has to take some pretty important steps to ensure that we’re relevant, and we have to put at the center of what we’re doing customization,” Cox said. “We need to make sure we recognize the different segments of our membership and give them their distinct value — it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

She is excited to get down to it.

“I cannot wait to look back on this moment a year from now and talk about what this past year has been like,” Cox said.

Chamber members applaud as Shanna Cox makes her first appearance Thursday as president of the organization, at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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