The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce has three Board of Directors position to fill for 2024.
The following six nominees were selected from a highly qualified field of candidates: Nicole Desmond, Brian Feltmann, Deb Giffin, Brian Gildehaus, Phillip James, and Dr. Jennifer Kephart.
Ballots will be mailed to members by November 15 and are due back to the Chamber Office by December 1.
Nicole Desmond is a lifelong Washington resident. Nicole is employed at Deppe Farms, a family-owned business established right here in Washington in 1950. She is a graduate of Washington High School and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Missouri.
Nicole served 9 years on the Washington Town & Country Fair Board and still loves volunteering her time whenever needed. Nicole is serving on the board from the FFA Foundation, which helps all our surrounding High School FFA chapters. She also love coaching girls basketball and is currently the assistant coach at Washington High School.
Nicole is married to JJ Desmond. They reside on the family farm with their 5 kids. Nicole enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include gardening, spending time outdoors, and cycling.
Brian Feltmann was was born and raised in Washington. He attended St Francis Borgia Grade School and High School. After high school, he attended Missouri State University in Springfield and then started working full time at his family's business, Modern Auto. He started on the sales floor and eventually became the sales manager. In 2021, Brian and his cousin, Matt, had the opportunity to take over ownership of Modern Auto, and he currently serves as Co-Owner and Vice President. In 2008, he joined the Washington Lions Club where and served as president from 2015-2016. In his free time, Brian enjoys spending time with his family at Lake of the Ozarks or in the woods hunting.
Deb Giffin has lived and raised her family in Washington since 2002. She has been a prominent developer of affordable rental housing across the Midwest for over 35 years and currently serves on the executive board of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association and Missouri Council of Affordable Rental Housing. Ms Giffin operated her business outside of the Washington community until 2019 when she invested in downtown Washington. Ms. Giffin purchased the former Neiberg & Vitt building at the corner of 4th and Elm where she operates her real estate firm on the 2nd floor while customers enjoy her eclectic boutique and lunch café, Swallows Nest Boutique Café, on the first floor. After completing the Swallows Nest building, Ms. Giffin purchased the tri-plex home across 4th Street next to the Swallows next parking lot where she is awaiting demolition for future development. In 2022, Ms. Giffin turned her interests to the former Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 2nd and Jefferson, where she has been actively renovating the 9,000 sq ft building with plans to open by year end.
Ms. Giffin is dedicated to the success of our downtown district. She has been serving on various committees since her initial investment in 2019. Her active participation includes the city’s Comprehensive Plan review committee, CORE, and Tourism committee. Ms. Giffin enjoys contributing her time to our amazing community and reserves a special place in her heart for our downtown district.
Brian Gildehaus is the Manager of Project Services at Bayer Cropscience. In his current role at Bayer, Brian specializes in supporting the execution of engineering and construction projects that facilitate capital investment. Throughout his career he has focused on delivering project solutions to key stakeholders. He has developed a background in cost control, capital budgeting, accounting, contract management, cost/schedule management. Brian’s responsibilities also include financial analysis and reporting that drive key decision making. In addition to his role at Bayer, Brian has been a member of various area industry organizations ranging from the St. Louis Construction Consumer Council to the St. Louis Agri-Business Club. He served on the Washington Town and Country Fair Board for 11 years. He was the Chairman in 2018. Brian enjoys volunteering in the community, attending and coaching youth sports. He resides in Washington with his wife Angie and his children Charlie, Valerie and Beverly.
Phillip James is the General Manager of WEG Transformers USA in Washington. He has P&L responsibility for all three WEG factories including Operations, Finance, Supply Chain, Engineering, Quality, Strategic Planning and Information Systems. Phillip has worked at WEG since March 2016 and he has spent his entire 35-year business career in manufacturing with four different companies, in three different states.
Phillip joined WEG Transformers in 2016, one year before the acquisition of the business by WEG and has been instrumental in planning and executing the purchase of the old Melton factory and starting up WEG’s Distribution Transformer business on Bluff Road in that building. Phillip has also led the WEG team in their recent major expansion of WEG’s Power Transformers business on Avantha Drive, over the past two years.
Phillip and his wife Melissa have been married for 35 years, moved to Washington in 2021 and live in the downtown area. They have two adult children and one granddaughter.
Phillip and Melissa own Vintage Trader, a vintage and antique business, located in Downtown Washington. They are active members of Downtown Washington Inc. Phillip and Melissa are members of First Christian Church (FCC) in Washington. Phillip is also an active leader at WEG with their annual United Way campaign where WEG has been the 2nd largest contributor to the Franklin County United Way for the past two years.
Dr. Jennifer Kephart, an accomplished educational leader with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University, serves as the proud Superintendent of the School District of Washington. Throughout her career, she has held diverse leadership positions, including roles as a teacher, Elementary Principal, Director of Curriculum, Executive Director of Elementary Education, and Associate Superintendent of Academic Services. Since assuming her role as Superintendent in July 2021, Dr. Kephart has focused on facilitating a smooth transition while building strong relationships with the Board of Education, the community, district staff, and students. Her leadership emphasizes collaboration, transparency, and excellence, reflecting her unwavering commitment to providing every student in the District with a top-tier education. Dr. Kephart has been instrumental in leading the Connect Washington and Washington SOAR Into STEM initiatives to connect students with their workforce passions and interests while building a stronger community impact. Beyond her professional achievements, Dr. Kephart actively engages in educational committees and boards, further demonstrating her dedication to enhancing educational collaboration and stakeholder conversations. Dr. Kephart and her husband, Pete, love living in Washington. Pete is a professional pilot and a Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Army helicopter pilot. Pete and Jennifer have two children who live in Colorado and Illinois. When they are not attending events in the community, they enjoy spending time with their kids, flying out of the Washington Regional Airport, boating at the Lake of the Ozarks, and traveling with friends.
SOAR into STEM is a free five- session learning experience that provides students with project-based learning, connections to STEM curriculum, and a front-row seat into the workings of a global aviation nonprofit using airplanes to change and save lives. High school students from Crosspoint Christian School, Hermann High School, New Haven High School, Pacific High School, St. Clair High School, St. Francis Borgia High School, Sullivan High School, Union High School Warrenton High School, Washington High School and Wright City High School can participate.
Students will expand their knowledge of flight, mechanics, and navigation as well as explore aviation career paths and focusing on humanitarian aviation. During each session students will engage with introductory curriculum, guest speakers, career mentorship, and hands-on learning activities that conclude with a flight with a Certified Flight Instructor. The program will provide the foundation for advanced exploration of humanitarian aviation in the areas of flying, aerospace engineering, and unmanned aircraft systems.
The Chamber is proud to partner with the School District of Washington, Wings of Hope, the City of Washington, and Downtown Washington, Inc. to bring this amazing program to local students.
A message from Katelyn Huber...
This school year I am teaching CAPS Global Business at Four Rivers Career Center. My students, made up of juniors and seniors, are looking for client-connected projects that they can sink their teeth into! CCPs give these students real-world experience and help prepare them for life after high school and college.
A client-connected project could be a number of things like event planning, fundraising coordination, creation of marketing materials, podcasting, financial analysis, data entry, logistics coordination and more.
If you have a project that keeps being put at the bottom of your list because there isn't enough time in the day, please reach out to me via email.
If you don't have a project, but are interested in mentoring an aspiring business leader, please reach out as well. I would love to set every student up with a business mentor!
All but a few raindrops stayed away and we enjoyed a great day at Wolf Hollow Golf Club with 27 teams on Friday, May 12! Thank you to our golfers and volunteers for supporting the event, to Grey Eagle Distributors and Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of New Haven for donating raffle prizes, and to Hoffmann-Hillermann Nursery & Florist and National Fire Suppression for providing the attendance prizes.
1st place: Sam Unnerstall, Ben Hotz, Brad Carpenter, Jake Brandt (Bank of Washington)
2nd place: Derek Schriewer, Scott Sullivan, David Schriewer, Rick Marquart (Janie Schriewer & Associates)
3rd place: Jordan Faerber, Blake Kluesner, Brady Schwarts, Spencer Nothum (GenFinity Wealth Management)
1st Place: Mike See, Jason Fitzgerald, Kelly Kureger, Chad Carter (Pepsi)
2nd Place: Dylan Brocato, Jake Jinkerson, Casey Harting, Missy Maune (First State Community Bank)
3rd Place: Luke Meyer, Kyle Wolfe, Dave Engelbrecht, Donna Klott (Citizens Bank)
Skins Tournament Winner
Jordan Faerber, Blake Kluesner, Brady Schwarts, Spencer Nothum (GenFinity Wealth Management)
Closest to the Pin Winners
Thanks again to our sponsors!
We have a few new opportunities for members, as well as some that we haven’t mentioned in a while, so I wanted to put them all together in one spot for you, and include timelines so you don’t accidentally miss something
Video Series Interviews
We will be working with students from the CAPS Program at Four Rivers Career Center to develop video interviews with our members about the impact of the Chamber in their business, and in the community as a whole. Other videos will focus on educating the community on the Chamber's purpose, history, and outlook.
This is a great way to feature your business as well as your involvement in the Chamber! We will post these to our Facebook and YouTube accounts and tag you on Facebook.
Timeline: Work will begin on these projects later this month, so we appreciate your response by Feb. 20!
To participate, please complete the appropriate form:
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