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Local News

Joliet chamber announces new leadership plan

Jen Howard
Jen Howard

The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry is taking a different direction in its planned changing of the guard in April.

Jen Howard, a local business owner and a member of the chamber board of directors, will become interim president on April 1, the chamber announced Thursday.

Howard will replace Mary Jaworski, whose planned retirement was announced in September.

Vice President Mike Paone will not take over as president as previously planned, and Jaworski, whose retirement is scheduled for April 8, will stay on as a part-time consultant, the chamber said in a news release.

"After careful consideration, Mike Paone has decided to forego the position of president to instead focus on his passion for advocacy with local, state and national government affairs," the chamber said in the release.

The chamber in September had announced that Paone would take over as president at the same time it announced Jaworski's coming retirement.

"Mike will remain at the chamber and further devote his time and efforts in the area of government affairs in addition to his continued involvement in membership and chamber subgroups," the chamber said Thursday.

Paone, who has been with the chamber 19 years, implemented membership drives, and has been instrumental in developing affiliate groups like Joliet Area Young Professionals.

Although Howard has been designated interim president, the chamber is not conducting a search for candidates for the job, Marketing and Communications Director Katie Jablecki said.

"We put this in place for now. The board will make a decision later," Jablecki said.

The chamber in its announcement noted "Howard is not a stranger to the chamber or the Joliet business community."

She is owner of the TCBY yogurt shop in Shorewood and has been on the chamber board for four years.

The chamber news release described her as having "proven herself to be a successful entrepreneur and executive with consistent abilities to lead organizations and achieve growth in sales, marketing, community relations and operations. She has a proven record of building strong relationships with client companies, community partners and teams of employees."

Her community involvement includes president of the Rotary Club of Joliet and board president of the Joliet Junior College Foundation.

Other boards on which she serves include Illinois Partners for Human Services, Rialto Square Theatre Foundation and Greater Area Joliet YMCA. She is a member of the Joliet City Center Partnership Downtown Marketing Committee.

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