Longtime Eagle River resident named chamber’s new executive director

Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 11:55
  • Longtime Eagle River resident Debbie Rinckey has been named the new executive director of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Debbie Rinckey has had one heck of a year.

On Monday, the longtime Eagle River resident was recently named the new executive director of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, capping a year that began with a springtime house fire and included a milestone birthday.

“It’s been overwhelming, but it’s all good,” said Rinckey — who also celebrated her 50th birthday this year.

Rinckey and her husband Brad have lived in Eagle River for 21 years, raising three hockey playing boys in the Eagle River Valley home they only recently moved back into after a summer of renovations. A native Michigander with a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, Rinckey has held a number of different sales and marketing jobs — including a stint as an account executive at the Star — most recently working as the owner/operator of Market Wise, an Eagle River marketing consulting firm. She’s also a past president of both the Eagle River Area Rotary Club and the Alaska chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Rinckey is no stranger to the local chamber, having served on its board and volunteered for the group throughout her two decades in Eagle River.

In a press release issued Monday, chamber board president Colin Fay pointed to Rinckey’s experience in the community as a major asset to the group.

“We are very pleased and excited to announce this appointment,” he said. “Debbie will bring leadership and creativity to the Chamber’s programs and a deep sense of commitment to our community. She has served organizations at all program, fundraising, executive and leadership levels and has a wide range of experience.”

Rinckey’s hiring ends a search that began when Dana Thorp-Patterson announced in November she was leaving the state after accepting a job at an Oregon community college. After what was described as a regional search and selection process, a three-member panel interviewed eight candidates for the job over Thanksgiving week. Fay said a final decision was made Friday.

On Monday, Rinckey was busy getting settled into her new office in the Eagle River Town Center building. She said she has no immediate plans to implement big changes, but did say she hopes to use her marketing background to continue building the chamber’s profile.

“I think I really just want the chamber to be more visible, I want to be able to invigorate it, get out there in the community and see what businesses want from the chamber,” she said, noting that she’d also like to focus on ways to bring new businesses and members into the 47-year-old organization.

Among the chamber’s largest initiatives — the annual Bear Paw and Merry Merchant Munch programs as well as Chief Alex Park park maintenance — will remain relatively unchanged for the time being, she said.

In the press release, Rinckey said she wants the chamber to continue grow area business.

“I am dedicated to this community and this organization because it provides a vital service to those who live and do business here,” she said. ‘The Chamber plays a key role in supporting and developing local business and I am committed to furthering the success of the organization.”

Rinckey said she couldn’t be more excited about her new gig.

“It feels awesome,” she said.

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