ALPENA - The Alpena Convention & Visitors Bureau has made its decision on who to hire to replace long-time Executive Director Deb Pardike, who will be vacating the position early next month.
The board announced on Thursday it has come to terms with Mary Beth Stutzman of Alpena, who is currently working through a transitioning period with Pardike and will take over full time on Feb. 11.
Stutzman, who was encouraged by community members to apply for the position, is a Michigan State University graduate and brings more than 20 years of marketing, communication and strong multi-media skills with her. She said she has a strong passion for Alpena and is excited to have a large roll in continuing the work her predecessor has done in making an attractive place for its citizens and for visitors.
"I think right now Alpena is a hidden gem and I think we need to continue to unwrap what we have to offer and continue to showcase it," Stutzman said. "We need to shine a spotlight on it for other people to see. Deb has made an entire career in moving Alpena forward and I know I have big shoes to fill and I think the biggest challenge I'm going to face is to expand on what she has built. I want to help move forward with the momentum that has already begun."
Pardike said Stutzman is the prefect fit because of the work she has done in the community already and with the new Sanctuary of the Great Lakes branding effort. She said more importantly Stutzman has a true passion and love for Alpena and that, more than anything, may be what makes her the best fit for the position.
"The board absolutely got this right with Mary Beth. She has an incredible skill set and has been involved with the branding project and is extremely passionate about it," Pardike said. "It is as if we were presented with the right person at the right time. You can't pay someone to be passionate and Mary Beth already is. Anyone can do a job, but not everyone can have the passion to do it right and I know she does. I feel comfortable and confident leaving the CVB in her hands."
Pardike said the CVB is ready to unveil the new brand and because Stutzman has played a roll in the project to this point thinks that will help with the transition should go smoothly. Stutzman said it is the CVB's goal to spread the word about what Alpena has to offer and if the branding effort is going to work it will take more than just the work of the CVB and the other organizations at the Economic Development Building. She said the everyone will have to buy into the idea and support it for it to be successful. She said early indicators point toward that happening.
"If the CVB were to just do this on their own it wouldn't have as much power or have as large an impact," Stutzman said. "It is going to require an effort from everyone and not just organizations like the CVB, the chamber, the DDA and Target. I needs to include entities like the hospital and the school system. It will eventually encompass our everyday lives if it is going to work."
Stutzman said she intends to hold her new position for as long as she can and has no ambitions of looking for another job or moving out of the area. She said Alpena always will be her home and will do the best she can to promote Alpena.
"I really think this is my dream job," Stutzman said. "I am going to work hard to serve the people in the community for many years to come."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.