Lori Pepenella Returns to Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce as New Chief Executive Officer

Oct 19, 2016
Lori Pepenella

Lori Pepenella  has been appointed as chief executive officer of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

Pepenella previously served as the chamber’s destination marketing and communications director since 2008. She had stepped down earlier this year, taking on the position of director of community development for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, where she is a lifetime member and past Woman of Achievement.

At the chamber office in Ship Bottom, Pepenella will begin her new post Monday, Oct. 24, chamber representatives said.

There have been several executive directors that have headed the 102-year-old organization in its history. This new CEO position will combine chamber operations with State of N.J. Destination Marketing Organization grant compliance to promote tourism in the region, as well as work alongside the board to establish its three-year strategic plan, titled Vision 2020.

The Southern Ocean chamber hosts regional business meetings, operates a fully staffed information center throughout the year and runs Chowderfest, one of the East Coast’s most popular food festivals.

Many other award-winning initiatives will continue.

As the chamber’s DMO and communications director, Pepenella had  implemented the Wedding Road Show, Beyond the Beach and LBI Region Report programming from funding she earned through the N.J. Division of Travel and Tourism competitive DMO Grant program. She also led the chamber to be one of three globally accredited destination marketing organizations within the state.

In 2014, in honor of the Southern Ocean County chamber’s 100th anniversary, Pepenella oversaw the Regional Economic Development Council, which led a two-year research project along with key stakeholders. The project set out to identify how the chamber could adapt to best serve the changing business community leading into 2020.

Incoming chamber President Jillian Panzone Elsasser stated, “We know change is evident. The chamber needs a new vision, new goals, new direction. The way we do business has changed the past 102 years, and now is the time for us to adapt. The most reasonable answer to accomplish everything we are setting out to do was to hire a CEO, and for us, Lori was the only fit for this position. The board of directors and members are thrilled to have her back, and we are all eager to get back to work together.”

The board will be working this fall to complete the first phase of its Vision 2020 plan, which will be ready to roll out in 2017, officials said. It will feature “new programs and opportunities that will enable business success in the 21st century standard.”

Pepenella will remain involved as an executive member of Ocean County Tourism and Business Advisory Board; Military Support Committee member for the Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst; Ocean County College 100 Women Campaign member; and a commissioner for the Ocean County Culture and Heritage Commission.

The chamber has served Long Beach Island, Stafford Township, Barnegat, Waretown, Forked River, Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor as a business resource since its founding in 1914.

To find out more about the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, go to visitLBIregion.com, call 609-494-7211, stop into the office at 265 West Ninth St. in Ship Bottom, or follow on social media as Southern Ocean Chamber and LBI Region.

For more information on the Regional Business Development plan, visit https://visitlbiregion.com/economic-development/. —M.S.

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