The business community in Waterloo has a new member, as Candace Gardner started Monday as the executive director of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.
“We are very excited to have her as our new executive director,” Chamber President Ryan Osterhage wrote in an email to chamber members.
Gardner takes over for Roberta Rohwedder, who is now working a full-time job at Annbriar Golf Course.
Prior to leaving, Rohwedder has been helping get Gardner up-to-speed on the job.
“It’s been wonderful,” Gardner said of the training. “She’s been extremely helpful in teaching me the ropes. She’s very well-organized, so I think it will be a smooth transition.”
Gardner is a 2006 graduate of University of Phoenix. She has a bachelor’s in information technology.
She worked for a little over a year as an associate controls developer with Maverick Technologies in Columbia and for about six years as a process control engineer III at United States Steel in Granite City.
That latter role is her most recent, and Gardner said her experience there will help her as the chamber’s executive director.
“It’s going to help me with project management and dealing with all the different businesses, as I dealt with a lot of diverse people at the steel mill,” she explained.
The Waterloo resident also has extensive volunteer experience with Human Support Services, The Restore Network and two organizations in Washington Park.
Gardner said her experience in that realm will prove beneficial in her new role.
“It will help me with event planning,” she said. “The Waterloo Chamber of Commerce hosts a lot of events around the community that involve a lot of different businesses, and I think it will help me with that.”
In this part-time position, Gardner’s responsibilities will also include representing the chamber at various functions, networking and promoting and supporting Waterloo’s businesses.
“Working with the community is what really grabbed my attention and made me interested in the job,” Gardner noted.
She said she has some plans in the works, but nothing official yet.
“A big goal is just getting out there and meeting the people and the business owners that I don’t know and making my face known,” she said.
Gardner said she also plans to educate business owners on the benefits of being a chamber member.