Amanda Weisbrod

The Union County Chamber of Commerce named La Grande native Suzannah Moore-Hemann as its new executive director Tuesday afternoon. Moore-Hemann will replace Bob Kavanaugh, who served as the chamber’s executive director from 2016 to December 2018.

Although Moore-Hemann doesn’t have any specific projects in mind just yet, she said she wants to focus on connecting the cities of Union County and listening to community members in order to “increase their engagement.”

“The board and I have a shared interest (in achieving) a cohesive Union County, so we’re asking how the chamber can help facilitate and do things to make all of the towns feel included,” she said. “The other thing that I think is hugely important comes from a lot of the volunteer work I’ve done, (which is the importance of the chamber) being member driven and making sure that we do strategic planning and envisioning in ways that are aligned with what our members are interested in.”

Moore-Hemann has volunteered at various events and organizations in Union County for more than six years. She was a founding member and later the director of the annual Eastern Oregon Beer Festival, assisted chamber ambassadors and worked for the Eastern Oregon University Foundation.

Volunteerism, for Moore-Hemann, is all about challenging herself, meeting new people and contributing to a place that formed her into who she is today.

“It was an opportunity to work with a really wide, diverse group of people that I might not encounter professionally,” she said. “The people, the projects, learning new things ... I love seeing the direct tangible connection (of volunteerism) to the community.”

Moore-Hemann graduated from La Grande High School and earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from EOU, where she served in student government. She previously worked at Grande Ronde Hospital and was an accountant the Center for Human Development. Moore-Hemann will be leaving her current position involving outreach and education for the state of Oregon’s health care marketplace program in order to serve as executive director of the chamber.

Because all of her professional and volunteer experience has dealt with helping her hometown in one way or another, Moore-Hemann said this next step on the chamber board was “a natural choice” for her.

“I feel very honored to really give back to somewhere that has made me who I am,” she said. “I’m born and raised here, so La Grande and Union County are as much a part of me as anything else.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer