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Community involvement nothing new for Spears
Susan Spears named president of Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce

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Date published: 5/5/2010

BY BILL FREEHLING

Community involvement runs in the blood of Susan Spears, the newly announced president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Her father, Richard Garnett, was a longtime Fredericksburg schools employee and the system's superintendent from 1983 until 1997. He was on City Council between 1998 and 2002.

Spears used to pore over the minutiae of government with her father, grilling him on zoning rules and other details. In 2004, having spent many years working in retail management, she decided to join the staff of the Chamber to get more involved herself in the community where she's spent nearly her entire life.

The James Monroe High School and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate quickly made her mark on the Chamber. She assumed leadership of the organization's Military Affairs Council, which looks after the interests of the area's three military bases, soon after it started in 2006. She formed Leadership Fredericksburg and has worked closely with the Next Generation of Business Leaders.

Spears became acting president of the Chamber when Bob Hagan resigned in December. Last Wednesday, the Chamber's board of directors unanimously appointed Spears as the permanent president. It was announced Thursday.

"It was very humbling and exciting at the same time," Spears said. "I will do everything in my power to live up to everyone's expectations."

Spears hopes to strengthen relationships with existing businesses and advocate on their behalf, partner with regional groups to provide resources for the business community and continue to develop strong programs within the Chamber.

She said the Fredericksburg economy has a lot going for it, including a strategic location along Interstate 95, military bases, strong healthcare and more. She thinks the planned Kalahari Resorts would be "phenomenal" for the area.

"Fredericksburg and the region here have so much to offer," she said, and she sees it as part of her job to make sure people know that.

Spears lives in downtown Fredericksburg with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Eddie. She's in the Rappahannock Rotary Club and serves on the Fredericksburg Planning Commission.

She'll have to give up day-to-day management of the Military Affairs Council and Leadership Fredericksburg in her new position. Though that won't be easy, she's ready for her new role.

"I'm here to serve the organization in the best capacity I can," she said.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com