By Rachel Kytonen
Although she has enjoyed her time as president of the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Nicki Klanderud has decided it’s time to begin a new chapter in her career.
Klanderud, who has served as president of the Chamber for the past five years, has decided to take a new position within the Cambridge community. Her last day as president of the Chamber will be Feb. 17.
Klanderud will join Cambridge Medical Center later this month as a manager of community engagement. Klanderud explained it’s a full-time position with Allina Hospitals and Clinics that focuses on preventing illness and educating people on health and wellness initiatives.
“It was a hard decision to leave the chamber, and I’ve built some great relationships over the past five and a half years,” Klanderud said this week. “I’ve loved every minute of my job, but my true passion is working with health and wellness, and I love working with nonprofit organizations. I felt this move was the right fit for my family.”
Bob Roby, chair of the board of directors for the Chamber, said it wishes Klanderud nothing but success in her new venture.
“The last five years has no doubt been one of the most challenging periods for businesses—especially in the Isanti County area,” Roby said. “We experienced so much growth in the late 90s, earning the number 11 spot for growth in the nation as a county. Development was happening so fast, without much caution around the idea that the bubble would ‘break’ and leave hundreds in our area without jobs—especially in the construction area. Nicki came to the Chamber right on the verge of this crisis, and guided the Chamber through the 2008-2009 fiscal year, rebuilding the Chamber’s health each year after that to where it is today. The last three years of growth for the Chamber is a testimony to her hard work and leadership.”
Klanderud said she’s glad she’s able to stay working in the Cambridge community.
“I’m very excited to stay in the area, and the last five and a-half years I’ve called Cambridge my home,” Klanderud said. “I’ve gotten to work with a lot of businesses in the community and I’m glad I’m not leaving the area. But I will miss the day-to-day interaction with the Chamber members.”
Linda Gerlach, administrative assistant for the Chamber, said she will miss Klanderud.
“Nicki has become such an inspiring leader during her five plus years working at the Chamber,” Gerlach said. “She is very passionate about how important it is to inform, educate and promote the Chamber membership. Her enthusiasm in her job shows every day. The Chamber now offers several workshops each year to Chamber members on various topics. She was instrumental in starting the Cambridge Day Out Event and Race the Rum. The Chamber now hosts a Community and Business Expo in the fall and has initiated a Buy Local program in the community. It has been a privilege to work with Nicki over these past years. It will be very difficult to say goodbye because she is so much more than a coworker. I wish her much success in her new job and much happiness in life.”
Klanderud felt she has grown in her capacity as president of the Chamber, and is proud of her accomplishments, such as bringing the STEM Summit to Cambridge, the implementation of the Buy Local program and the successful fundraising events the Chamber has had over the years.
“The Chamber has been stable even during this difficult economic time which is a huge accomplishment to the board,” Klanderud said. “Linda and I have worked hard to keep the programs going without cutting staff, but it’s also a testament to our board of directors.”
Dave Maurer, treasurer of the Chamber Board of Directors, is glad Klanderud is staying in the community.
“I think Nicki did a tremendous job as President of the Chamber,” Maurer said. “She was engaged with community groups and events, and added some new ones such as Race the Rum. She kept the chamber moving forward and kept it stable in difficult times. She will be missed by the Chamber. The good news is that she will still be working in the community, being a part of a lot of good things.”
The Chamber is currently advertising for the president position, and is hoping to have a new president begin in April.
“Even though we would certainly rather keep Nicki at the wheel of the Chamber, we are grateful that she has positioned the Chamber to prosper through her intentional focus on building leadership on the Chamber Board, and the Cambridge Area community,” Roby said. “We on the Board are tackling the challenge of this transition with confidence because of the work that Nicki has done in building a strong Chamber, with a strong vision—’Leading, Connecting and Growing’ the Cambridge area into a ‘Community of Choice, to Live. Work and Play.’ We thank you Nicki, and wish you the very best.”
Klanderud said she enjoyed her time as president of the chamber.
“I’m excited about my new opportunity at Cambridge Medical Center, but I will miss my work on the Chamber,” Klanderud said. “The Chamber helped me grow my leadership skills and develop relationships, and I owe a lot to the Chamber for helping me become the person I am today. I’m happy about the next chapter in my career, but it’s with a heavy heart.”