The St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce has named a new executive director to replace Executive Director Pat McKeown, who is retiring.
Brooke E. Rouse, since 2011 a business advisor for the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton, begins her new job June 2.
“I am extremely pleased that the board today confirmed Brooke as its next executive director,” said St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors President Ryan Deuel. “It’s very obvious to anyone who meets her that Brooke brings with her a strong devotion to improving the economic vitality of St. Lawrence County and its residents. She will have big shoes to fill, but I’m confident that Brooke will continue to build upon the chamber’s successes achieved under Pat’s leadership and will initiate her own successes as well.”
"I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated chamber staff and board of directors and to lead the next chapter of initiatives and strategies for the greater good of our county," Rouse said.
"My personal experiences as business owner, advisor and advocate have given me a real world perspective into the challenges and opportunities we face as a business community. I look forward to leveraging resources and partnerships to continue bringing programming and support for the entrepreneurs in our communities," said Rouse.
Since 2008, Rouse her husband, Charles, have owned a house at 24 East Main St., a bed and breakfast located in Canton.
From 2007 to 2009 Rouse was assistant director of student activities and leadership education at St. Lawrence University, and she interned with the Town and Village of Canton Office of Economic Development while a graduate student.
Rouse has served as the events coordinator for the Remington Arts Festival and was appointed in December 2013 for a one-year term as a Village of Canton Trustee. Rouse is a 2006 graduate of St. Lawrence University, earning a bachelor’s degree in global studies, and she earned a master’s degree in tourism management from the University of West Indies in Barbados.
In December 2013, the chamber board’s executive committee formed a search committee that included four board members charged with finding McKeown’s replacement.
The national search yielded nearly 30 applicants who came from various who brought a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Personé Staffing of Massena helped to facilitate the search.
“This was a very thorough search, and the committee devoted a great deal of time finding the next executive director,” said Deuel, who also chaired the search committee. “I can say with confidence that Brooke embodies the skills and characteristics that the board was looking for, and she will continue the chamber’s forward momentum.”
Pat McKeown began her work at the chamber as an interim executive director in 2007, replacing Karen M. St. Hilaire, who left to become St. Lawrence County Administrator. Six months later the board selected McKeown as the chamber’s permanent director.
Since her appointment McKeown led the chamber into some new ventures, including FISHCAP, an award-winning program promoting the St. Lawrence River Valley as a sport-fishing destination, for which the chamber took tourism marketing “first place” in New York State. She also began the region’s first broadband initiative, administering a grant from then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.
This past August, McKeown and the chamber staff worked with the Village of Waddington to bring the Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown, otherwise known as the Bassmaster Elite Series, to the St. Lawrence River. She also oversaw the growth of chamber initiatives such as Business “Spotlights;” the annual Junior Carp Tournament; the popular holiday Craft, Food and Wine Show; and The Really Big Show, a two-day business and garden expo held at Clarkson University’s Cheel Arena in spring. New this past year is the monthly CEO Roundtable, at which area heads of business can share information and best practices.
“Pat’s incredible leadership has positioned this chamber as the county’s strongest and most formidable advocate,” Deuel said.