LA GRANDE — Suzannah Moore-Hemann’s days as executive director of the Union County Chamber of Commerce are numbered, but not her days as a hardworking advocate for the organization.
Moore-Hemann, who announced in late October that she is resigning, plans to stay connected to the chamber by reaching out to it as a volunteer.
“I just want to stay involved,” said Moore, who will be taking a position as assistant director of stewardship and scholarship awards at Eastern Oregon University.
Moore-Hemann said she is looking forward to doing things like helping with the chamber’s ambassador and education programs and its annual awards banquets for the business community and those working in agriculture. She is eager for the chamber to again start putting on banquets after they were canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They were our chances to say thank you to the community,” she said.
The decision to step down as chamber director is one she agonized over.
“It was hard because I love the chamber and the direction it is going in,” she said.
Moore-Hemann has served as chamber director since January 2019. She will continue as its director through the end of December before starting to work full-time at EOU.
Projects Moore-Hemann has helped spearhead during her tenure as chamber director include revitalizing its holiday decoration contest for businesses and residents. Participation in the program has increased significantly in the past two years, and tours in Union County are now conducted that allow people to see the top entries.
“I have heard some people talk nostalgically about how this was how it used to be years ago for their families,” she said.
Moore-Hemann is also pleased with the success of the chamber’s new Shop Hop program, which rewards residents for visiting a wider range of participating businesses.
“It helps businesses make new connections,” she said.
Moore-Hemann oversaw the launch of a new chamber website, one she is pleased with.
“It is easy to navigate and does a wonderful job of showcasing the businesses of this region,” she said.
The chamber director said that another of the favorite parts of her job has been learning about the inner workings of the broad range of businesses in Union County, including Blue Mountain Seeds, whose grass seed is sold in many European countries.
“We have so many businesses here with international platforms,” she said.
Moore-Hemann’s responsibilities, in her new position at the university, will include helping raise funds for the EOU Foundation, making sure donors and contributors receive the recognition they deserve and awarding scholarships funded by the foundation.
“A lot of my focus will be on building relationships with individuals and families,” she said.
Moore-Hemann is no stranger to EOU — she has earned three degrees from the university and has served on the EOU Foundation’s board of trustees.
At Eastern she will also be teaching some business classes, including one on portfolio and resume development. Moore-Hemann will be working with faculty members who had been her professors.
“I never would have imagined that I would someday be working alongside the people who taught me,” she said. “It will be a very cool feeling.”
Moore-Hemann believes she will always look back fondly on her three years as chamber director.
“Every day I had a never-ending opportunity to help make this a better place,” she said.
John Howard, the owner of John Howard & Associates Real Estate, said Moore-Hemann has done an outstanding job as chamber director.
“She is outgoing and is a great fit for the chamber,” he said.
Howard credits Moore-Hemann with being meticulous and thorough and doing an outstanding job promoting local businesses. He also said she has just the right touch with Union County visitors.
“It takes a special personality to make people feel welcome,” Howard said.