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New leader settling in at Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce

The Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce has a new leader who’s ready to reach out and make a community connection.

“I think as we’re moving forward, the board and I are going to set some long-term goals on where we want the organization to go,” said Jenney Sartin, who took over the position of executive director of Pahrump’s chamber of commerce on June 10. “For me, right now, personally, I’m going to get to know the community. I’m going to reach out to the businesses and get to know them, find out what matters to them, what’s important to them, because that has to be part of the chamber’s goal.”

Sartin, a native of Mississippi, came to Nevada roughly three decades ago, making her move in 1990.

Sartin brings years of experience in government affairs, nonprofit management and public relations. Sartin has served as executive director of several nonprofits, including one that received “congressional recognition for outstanding service to the community,” according to a news release from the chamber.

Sartin replaces Interim Executive Director Melissa Gebhart. Gebhart replaced outgoing CEO Chris Erwin when he resigned from his position in January 2019.

Gebhart was on the chamber’s board of directors prior to accepting the interim executive director position at the chamber. She returned to her position on the board of directors with Sartin coming into the role.

Professional background

According to the chamber’s release, additionally, Sartin “brings 15-plus years’ experience as a public relations and public policy specialist providing information on issues such as the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, private property rights, small business tax, school construction projects, election law reform, economic development projects and other issues that impact businesses and the public.”

Sartin was also previously an elected official, serving on the Rankin County Election Commission in Mississippi, where she oversaw elections at several levels: municipal, county, state and federal. In her years in Mississippi, she was selected to Ten Outstanding Young Mississippians and Outstanding Young Americans. She has won “numerous awards and honors in recognition for her outstanding leadership skills, public speaking and community service,” according to a release from the chamber.

Sartin as worked with major organizations in Southern Nevada, including the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR).

Sartin said many of these skill sets will cross over to her position at the chamber.

“Anytime you’re an executive director of any type of an organization, there’s going to be skill sets that are transferable—whether it has to be dealing with governmental agencies and funding sources or policy impacts, because virtually politics is in everything,” she said.

She continued: “As a nonprofit organization, or business association, you do have to be plugged into what’s going on within the political and governmental structures, so not only can they be a potential source for funding, but when they make policy decisions that impact businesses, you need to have a thorough understanding or knowledge of how that works. Needless to say, having been a lobbyist, having been a government affairs representative, or an executive director of nonprofit organizations, I had to have a direct, hands-on approach in dealing with policy decisions which impacted that organization or the members of the community.”

Laying groundwork

No immediate changes are set to take place for the chamber.

“I don’t want people to panic, and think things are going to change overnight,” Sartin said. “I’m going to look at what works and what people want. My job as executive director at the chamber of commerce is to represent the interests of businesses and the community as a whole, I’m not going to force issues just because I happened to have a personal liking for something.”

Sartin is planning on learning more about the area for future planning.

“You have to decide what matters to the community, what matters to the businesses,” Sartin said. “That has to be incorporated into our goals. As I’m going out in the community getting to know the businesses out here and the individuals and people here, everything I learn, I’m going to bring back to the table and share with the board members, and that will be part of our strategic planning process.”

The chamber is currently responsible for several major events in the Pahrump area, including the Balloon Festival, the Biz & Home Expo and the Fall Festival.

New leadership was ushered into the chamber earlier this year.

The new 2019 officers included Max Buffi, president; Justin Curnutt, vice president; Teri Rogers, secretary; and Debbie Davis, treasurer. The remainder of the board of directors for the chamber include Ron Frazier, Doug Dubin, Debra Harris and Michelle Caird.

Pahrump Chamber and plans

Sartin said that it’s important to be mindful of the community, and its feelings on growth and development when planning for the future.

“It has to be a win-win for everybody, where they feel that it’s still Pahrump,” she said. “People move to Pahrump Valley for a reason, and it’s because of the lifestyle that they appreciate, so you always want to be mindful of respecting those traditions and how the people of the valley feel. There’s a lot of folks here that are retirees who’ve been here for many, many years, and they love it here because of the charm of a small town and the opportunity of knowing your neighbors.”

Being from Mississippi, Sartin understands this line of thought.

“I moved here from Mississippi, need I say more,” Sartin said. “I’ve served in leadership positions, I was a state vice president in Mississippi and in Nevada with the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. In that capacity, I traveled to all the small towns, but having been an Army brat, I’ve lived in a lot of those small towns.”

She added, “It’s a different world, it really is. Small towns, you get to know people very quickly, but there’s also mindfulness of traditions that you don’t see in big cities. That’s also the charm of a small town, that they do hold steadfast to their traditions.”

Sartin currently lives in the Las Vegas Valley but may consider moving to Pahrump in the future, she said.

“I suspect, I’ll be spending a whole lot more time here than over there,” Sartin said. “At some point down the road, I would definitely be looking at the possibility of relocating here.”

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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