On Tuesday, July 28, the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce announced the appointment of Elizabeth Francis as the organization’s new Executive Director. The 47-year-old Southington resident brings a wealth of experience in event planning, media relations, sales, and promotions.
“The Chamber Search Committee received over 70 resumes from across the country for the new Executive Director position, but it turned out that we only needed to look in our backyard,” Dave Pestillo, Vice-Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, said in a chamber press release. “Liz stood out among the rest for a number of reasons—most notably her background in media, her countless hours of volunteering for local clubs, her organizational skills, her people skills, and her energy. The entire Chamber Board welcomes her and looks forward to working with her.”
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to be working with the local businesses, town officials, community leaders, and residents to carry on the valued traditions of Southington,” Francis said in the release. “The Chamber will continue its commitment to the growth and success of area businesses and to promoting a friendly and vibrant community in which to work and live.”
For the last six years, Francis has worked in the Southington School System as a paraprofessional, but it was her work over the last 15 years, spearheading successful volunteer fundraisers and programs that earned her a respected reputation as a creative event planner. Francis has a proven track record of developing, managing, and executing original and highly profitable promotions and events.
That experience should help as she leads the next stage in Southington’s growth as a business community.
“We will keep the charm and essence of Southington fresh while keeping up with the growing times and ever changing needs of local businesses and the town,” she said in the release.
Francis, one of four children, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. She worked in her mother’s pet store in Hampstead, Md. She represented the family business in the town’s business association and served as president for one term, the youngest officer in the organization’s history.
“I learned first-hand the value of what an organized business group can do to help business owners succeed,” she said in the release.
After graduating in 1989 from Hood College in Frederick, Md. with a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology with a minor in psychology, Francis landed her first job with a cable station as a news reporter and later earned the role of news director.
Years later, she moved to WBAL-TV, the NBC Affiliate in Baltimore, in promotions then after two years, Weinberg Harris & Associates brought her onboard as a Public Relations Associate, and it was there, Francis discovered her flair for event planning and media relations. As a side job, Francis went on-air with a weekly personality radio talk show, “Talk of the Town,” with her mother.
Francis co-hosted, produced, and managed the commercial sales and production for the show.
In 1998, Francis moved to Southington. Since coming to town, the mother of four: Hannah 17, Leah 16, Jada 14, and Jack 13, made it her mission to institute and create new and innovative fundraisers and programs to benefit the local schools and community.
Francis served as co-president of the Village Green Nursery School Board of Directors and led the fundraising campaign to help open a library at the center. She was a dedicated member of the PTO at Thalberg Elementary organizing numerous events, golf tournaments, and socials.
At DePaolo Middle, she served many years as PTO Vice-President and Event Coordinator directing various benefits and programs.
“People who work in the PTO can accomplish so much on a tight budget, with limited resources,” she said in the release. “They are dedicated and are driven by their sincere passion to support their children, the schools, and community.”
In 2009, Francis was recognized in town for founding the Southington Girls’ Softball Association’s annual “Strike Out Cancer” mothers game to benefit Susan G. Komen of Connecticut.
“I’m confident my expertise and skills will enhance the Chamber’s established programs and events and will help create new enrichment benefits to members,” she said in the release. “I believe there are new opportunities to explore with social media, sponsorships, promotions, and resource support for businesses.”
Francis officially takes office as the Chamber’s new Executive Director on Monday, Aug. 31.