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Posted: December 15, 2014

Karin Penner says goodbye to her chamber

Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce members bid a fond adieu to outgoing executive director Karin Penner Dec. 10 during the annual Christmas luncheon at the Heritage Inn.

Members also welcomed her replacement David Hall, who provided a respectful and humorous introduction.

Reflecting on her 31 years guiding the chamber, Penner delivered a speech reflective of the passion she always felt for her job, chamber and community.

The following is a transcript of her presentation.

I have been blessed to have had the incredible honour of representing our chamber, and our wonderful city at events in Cranbrook and throughout the province.

Karin Penner carrying the Olympic torch in 2010.
Karin Penner carrying the Olympic torch in 2010.

Hosting the 1986 BC Summer Games; celebrating the 100th anniversary of this chamber; carrying the Olympic torch in 2010; accepting the Chamber of the Year Award in 2011, being a member of the British Columbia Chamber Executives and working with the best of the best is something that will forever be with me.

They say it takes a community to raise a child. The same adage rings true for this chamber.

My first responsibility was to prepare the bid submission for the 1986 BC Summer Games. With outstanding support from the community and a lot of work by former MLA Terry Segarty, Cranbrook became the smallest city to host the summer games – very successful.

At the request of the mayor of the day, the chamber was invited to be part of the Senior Games, Rick Hansen Man in Motion, Aids Benefit, Franklin Graham Crusade; we are a chartered member of the World Host program. Your chamber coordinated numerous programs including a number of job entry programs, Live Smart and Leadership BC – The statue of Cranbrook’ s Elephant Ed and lockers at the Salvation Army are legacies of that program. This chamber has also been hosting the Citizen of the Year since 1973.

We developed the template for senior volunteer councillors.

Laura was on the team that wrote the manual for the Visitor Centers.

Former President Pat deSa saw a need for a permanent location for the chamber and so our beautiful little log cabin by the creek was built at our present location. We thought the arson was the worst thing that could happen. Again you rallied. Led by Corinne Friesen, the Stepping Stones project was created giving us the finances to proceed with a new building. Burned the mortgage in July of 2010, bought out the EK Hunters Association and have a beautiful office facility and the nicest Sani dump station in B.C. – thanks to Joe McGowan and Will Pearce.

Penner, second from left, with Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones, centre and her "chamber chicks": Maureen Frank, far left; Laura Kennedy Cloac, second from right and Cathy Bauer, right. Missing Laura ???
Karin Penner, second from left, with Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones, centre and her “chamber chicks”: Maureen Frank, far left; Laura Kennedy, second from right and Cathy Bauer, right. Missing Laura Haley. The Cranbrook-born Jones was a recent chamber luncheon guest speaker.

Less than a hundred members when we started; 476 today.

First general luncheon, attendance was five; today it’s a full house.

You see, it was your collective energy and involvement that provided the strength and reason as my career evolved. You enabled me to see what was truly possible.

There are those who have said that this chamber is too strong. Good on you Cranbrook & District Chamber of Commerce – I hope you continue to grow and get even stronger.

Good on you that you have people who are not afraid to step up and tackle the challenging issues.

Good on you that you step out of the box to honour members of the business community; outstanding Cranbrook citizens and that you look after those who are less fortunate.

And let me just share with you that last Thursday was magical, heart-warming and fun as we held our annual Turkey Drive. It’s the best day of the year. The generosity of this community overwhelms me. Thank you Jason (Wheeldon), Warren (Bedell) and your volunteers for making a difference.

My hope and prayer would be that the networking, camaraderie and incredible volunteer spirit will continue. Without those sparks you cannot ignite positive change in the community.

Thank you to the media who have always been generous with their support to the chamber.

To all those who have sponsored and supported our projects and events, thank you. Your investment in this chamber is deeply appreciated.

There is so much I cherish from my time with the staff at the chamber. They have influenced, challenged and amused me. They have become family over the years and I love them very dearly. They truly are the wind beneath my wings.

I had passion for my job and a deep pride for my community and, so, with love and respect, I thank you for sharing this incredible journey with me.

Karin Penner, Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce

A standing ovation for Karin Penner following her farewell speech Dec. 10 at the Heritage Inn.
A standing ovation for Karin Penner following her farewell speech Dec. 10 at the Heritage Inn.

Lead image: Karin Penner receives a parting gift from Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce president Dave Butler during her Nov. 28 retirement party at the Heritage Inn. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW


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