Jennifer Giesike, President/CEO of the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce and manager of the Washington Town & Country Fair, has been elected the 2nd Vice Chair of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. The IAFE is a voluntary, not-for-profit trade association that represents and facilitates the evolving interests and needs of agricultural fairs, exhibitions, and shows (i.e. county and state fairs) around the globe. The association delivers industry-leading educational programming through training and certification programs, conferences, and its annual convention, provides in-depth resources, and connects members with the belief that fairs are strongest when working together and sharing knowledge.
The Washington Town & Country Fair has been a member of the IAFE since 1996. Giesike stated, “I know that our Fair has benefitted greatly from its membership. Board and staff members have gained and developed specific tools and ideas from attending IAFE events, and our Fair is better as a result of that.”
Giesike has been actively involved in IAFE activities since starting as the Fair Coordinator in 2000, taking advantage of the education and networking opportunities available. She received her Certified Fair Executive certification in April 2008 and graduated in the first class of the Institute of Fair Management in December 2009. She has served as the Zone 5 Director, Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Initiative, Chair of the 2019 IAFE Annual Convention Program Committee, CFE Committee, the Membership Committee, and the County Fair Committee, and was awarded the first IAFE YP Rising Star Award in December 2009.
“The IAFE has been key to my development as a professional in this industry, so to have the opportunity to help guide the organization for the next five years is a distinct honor,” said Giesike. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the industry that I’m so passionate about, and help ensure the future of fairs is as bright as ever.”
Giesike will work her way up to the position of Chairman of the IAFE in 2023, and then serve two additional years on the board. The IAFE board of directors consists of 18 elected members and the president and CEO selected by the board as an ex-officio director. The directors include a chair, two immediate past chairs, two vice chairs, a treasurer, a representative of the Federation of State and Provincial Associations of Fairs, a representative of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, eight directors elected from and representing each of the eight zones in the United States and Canada, and two directors at large from associate members. IAFE President & CEO Marla Calico is happy to have Giesike step into the position. “It’s been a joy to watch Jennifer grow in her fair expertise over the years, and her love of the industry is evident in how she carries herself. She’s a great supporter of our organization, and isn’t afraid to dig into the hard work that is required. She is the first Chair in many years that comes from the background of a smaller fair – yet fairs similar to the Washington Town & Country Fair represent 45% of our total membership. I look forward to the perspective she will add to our discussions, and the positive attitude she brings.
Jennifer has been employed by the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, serving as the Chamber President/CEO and Fair manager since 2012. She oversees the day-to-day operations which include entertainment contracts, sponsorships, scheduling, finances, volunteers, and working closely with a 24- member volunteer Fair Board and a 16-member Chamber Board.
Fair Chairman Jon Ballmann pointed out that Jennifer’s selection is quite an accomplishment. “To be chosen out of everyone in the organization – that’s a big deal. We’re proud of the work we do here, and we think we run a great fair. To have our manager be selected by her peers to serve in this capacity is a great honor for her, as well as for our fair and community.”
“Jennifer has dedicated much of her personal and professional life to the Washington Town & Country Fair, and the industry has provided her many opportunities,” added Chamber Chairman Paul Brune. “We’re happy to have been able to benefit from those opportunities, too. She is a great asset to our organization, and we are proud of her. I know she will serve the IAF
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