New chamber director in New London
By Scott Bellile
New London native April Kopitzke will head the New London Area Chamber of Commerce as its new executive director.
Kopitzke began her job Monday, Feb. 27. She succeeds Laurie Shaw, who left the chamber in late January to become director of administrative services at St. Joseph Residence across town.
Kopitzke has a bachelor’s degree in human resources and a minor in business management from Concordia University. She possesses nearly two decades of experience in customer service and leadership.
In her last position, she spent eight years as talent manager for American Eagle Outfitters at Appleton’s Fox River Mall. She recruited, hired and developed the store’s team members. Kopitzke said the role taught her much about consumer behavior. She watched as the company, hit hard by shoppers’ changing habits, reorganized its priorities and transformed itself into a stronger force.
“What made her a standout candidate was the strength of her background in customer service, both with employees and with customers, and also during the interview process, just the passion that she showed really for helping others,” said Peter Kurth, president of the chamber’s board of directors.
Kopitzke said a friend noticed the job posting and said the director role would be a perfect fit for her. She read the posting and every bullet point on the list of responsibilities excited her. The chamber director’s duties include advocating for community business owners and employers and strategizing local economic development. Her role will also keep her busy after hours with coordinating functions and events.
“Any sort of celebration, I want to be involved,” Kopitzke said. “I love to go above and beyond. I love that ‘wow’ factor for throwing events.”
Kopitzke looks forward to unleashing her creativity. She hopes to widen the chamber’s social media reach to Twitter and LinkedIn, where she plans to educate users about chamber memberships, upcoming events and supporting New London’s brick and mortar businesses. The last one is crucial with the rise of online retail, she said.
“It’s important to support your local businesses especially in such a small community,” Kopitzke said. “Word of mouth is so important and goes a long way.”
A 1998 New London High School graduate, Kopitzke returned to town seven years ago to be closer to family and friends. She has a husband and 1-year-old son. In her spare time enjoys the outdoors, crafting and gardening.
She said she also enjoys the New London community and its support for local businesses.
“She’s been living and breathing New London,” said Kathy Gwidt, vice president of the chamber’s board of directors. “Her work has taken her outside of the city of New London, but that’s why she is so excited to get back.
“I know she’s going to be a great leader for the organization, certainly a cheerleader for the community,” Gwidt said.