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Chamber President’s Award: Regan passionate about her Chamber service

Pamela Regan of 3M-Cottage Grove won the Chamber’s President’s Award. She leads the Chamber’s Events Committee. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Pamela Regan has served on the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce’s Events Committee for 10 years.

It’s a lot of effort to organize Chamber events throughout the year — from a large banquet to small coffee meetings — but Regan hasn’t considered it work.

“I just like doing the events and things,” she said. “That’s what I do at 3M-Cottage Grove … That’s kind of my forte — events and functions.”

Regan does it well, and in recognition of her efforts she was named winner of the President’s Award during the Chamber’s Annual Banquet last month. She was selected by Trent Cole of Cottage Grove Eyecare Clinic, who just completed a one-year term as Chamber president.

“Pamela is very dedicated in organizing the Annual Spring Banquet and the Business Breakfast as well as participating in all Chamber events,” her nomination letter read. “In conjunction with her position at 3M, Pamela is also very involved in our communities’ festivals, nonprofits, Adopt-a-Highway, wildlife and land preservation and works countless hours both on and off the job.”

Regan said the award was a well-kept secret. She helped organize the banquet and still didn’t know she would be among Chamber members awarded that night.

“It’s just truly an honor to be recognized for doing something you love to do,” she said.

For the past five years, Regan has served as Events Committee chair, and has a spot on the Chamber’s board of directors. The Events Committee membership changes, but it currently includes Colleen Stelmach, Chamber office manager; Ramona Westerberg of The Healing Place; Sonya Fox of RE/MAX Professionals; and Jean Brown of the South Washington County Bulletin.

The committee organizes quarterly Chamber lunches; after-hours events; an annual business breakfast; new member spotlight events; morning coffee meetings at area businesses; the Annual Banquet; and the Business Showcase. The banquet and showcase are held in the spring.

Regan said events have grown and evolved over time. For instance, the Annual Banquet used to be a theme party but it now is more a semi-formal event, she said. That change boosted attendance.

Moving forward, Regan said the committee is planning to change an after-hours networking gathering into “Happy Hour with the Chamber” as a way to make the event more casual and inviting for Chamber members.

Also, the committee may change the timing of the Annual Banquet from spring to fall in an attempt to boost attendance and spread large Chamber events throughout the year, but no final decision has been made.

“They’re good, but let’s make them great,” she said of Chamber events.

Regan’s involvement with the Chamber is intertwined with her job as administrative coordinator at 3M-Cottage Grove. Now a 35-year 3M employee, she was encouraged to participate with the Chamber when she started at the company’s Cottage Grove campus a decade ago.

“I thought, ‘Oh, great, one of those stuffy business organizations,’” she recalled. “But this Chamber is nothing like that. The people are all incredibly wonderful and really support each other’s businesses.”

Chamber members’ support of one another was reaffirmed for Regan earlier this year in a very personal way.

Her father was killed in an accident on Christmas Day last December. He and Regan’s mother were traveling in their motorhome when it broke down at night on the side of an Iowa highway. Her father exited the motorhome, and their dog got out too. The dog then darted across the highway and Regan said her father tried to retrieve the pet when he was struck by a car. He died at the scene.

It has been a rough six months, Regan said, but the tragedy led to deeper friendships with Chamber members.

“Many of the people of the Chamber reached out to me,” she said, “and I got incredible support. It was a great comfort.”

Receiving the President’s Award is a reflection of how Regan’s parents raised her, she said: “Do what you love and do it with passion.”

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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