Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

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The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Q&A: Evanston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director talks local business community

Photo Courtesy of Brittany Wright
Brittany Wright, the newest executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

On April 17, city officials, local business owners and community members gathered outside The Fat Shallot to celebrate the restaurant’s Evanston location, which opened last October.

The ribbon cutting was Brittany Wright’s (Weinberg ’12) first as executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

Wright said the ceremony felt “full circle” because The Fat Shallot catered her wedding rehearsal dinner. It was also invigorating to see the energy and passion surrounding Evanston’s business community, she said.

After graduating from Northwestern in 2012, Wright worked in a variety of positions around the Chicago area, gaining experience in community engagement, event organizing and fundraising. In April, she returned to Evanston to lead the Chamber of Commerce.

Wright spoke to The Daily about her new position and the Chamber’s role in Evanston’s business scene. 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for brevity and clarity. 

The Daily: What brings you back to Evanston?

Wright: I spent five years in my last role, so I was looking for my next career growth opportunity and career adventure and came across this role as the executive director with the Evanston Chamber, and it sort of seemed like the right fit at the right time, having familiarity with Evanston from being a Northwestern student. So it was exciting to be able to come back to this community professionally now.

The Daily: What are your priorities related to business and commerce in Evanston?

Wright: My goals are around the chamber specifically — so, how can we make sure that the chamber is a really valuable entity for our chamber members and for the business community at large? I want to hear from people about their past experiences with the chamber, what their needs are, where there are gaps in our services and offerings and how we should be focusing our time and energy to better serve them and overall to be a better player in this community.

The Daily: Have you noticed any representation gaps in membership in the chamber?

Wright: Truthfully, I’m still analyzing the data around our membership, but we’re always looking to grow and make sure that all wards and business districts of Evanston are represented. We want to make sure that people are aware of all of the great parts of Evanston, and it’s not all just downtown.

The Daily: How does increased business membership help the chamber? 

Wright: As a chamber, we work to be the unified voice of the business community. It’s something that we are working on getting better at. The more member businesses we have, the more feedback we can easily gain, the stronger voice that we have. 

The Daily: What does the chamber do to support marginalized communities in business? 

Wright: We do monthly happy hours — after work, sort of like a 5 to 7 p.m., at local businesses, so that’s a great way for us to bring people into a local business and give them a spotlight. We have our Women in Business initiatives. We’re looking at bringing women in business together to connect with one another, to share their experiences, lean on one another, utilize each other as resources. And then we have our Black Professionals Networking events that take place several times a year as well.

The Daily: What are you most excited about in this role?

Wright: I’m excited about the chance to connect with so many passionate, dedicated people in the community. This role is all about relationship building. I’m excited to be able to flex those muscles and to really be able to increase the value of the chamber in the community. 

I think right now is an exciting point of growth for the chamber. I think there’s so much great opportunity for us as an organization, and I’m excited that I get to be the leader that sort of jumps off the high dive and takes us to the next level.

Email: [email protected] 

X: @hannahe_webster

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