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Palmdale Official to Head Simi Chamber

The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce has selected Palmdale Chamber of Commerce head Leigh Engdahl as its new CEO.

Engdahl, 47, will join the Simi Valley chamber in April, a year after Nancy Bender stepped down.

Dolores Krier has been acting CEO since Bender’s departure. Krier, who has also been fulfilling her previous duties as the chamber’s director of operations, will return to that post full time when Engdahl starts.

As Engdahl steps into her new position, Chamber President Jeff Sampson said she’s faced with the task of increasing chamber membership at a time when numbers haven’t declined--but haven’t increased either.

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“I think they probably have the same problem, quite frankly, every chamber has,” Engdahl said. “We don’t toot our horns enough and people don’t know what we do. . . . We need to get our message out.”

She also must guide the chamber through a grueling reaccreditation process with the National Chamber of Commerce that involves working with auditors and reviewing chamber programs.

Engdahl took the Palmdale chamber through a similar process when that organization was accredited for the first time, Sampson said.

“She walked in with all of the qualifications we were looking for,” Sampson said. “She impressed us with not only her experience but her enthusiasm.”

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Sampson wouldn’t say how much the position pays, but he said CEOs in other chambers make between $50,000 and $80,000 a year.

In the year ahead, Engdahl will be charged with moving the chamber--whose membership includes 700 businesses--into a closer relationship with public education through continued involvement with the Simi Valley Education Foundation, which provides funds and programs to schools.


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