Shenango Chamber Hires New Executive Director

SHARON, Pa. – The Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director says she likes the potential she sees in her new community.

The chamber announced Tuesday it has hired Sherris Moreira to the position. Moreira will come to the chamber after serving as director of group tourism for Pittsburgh Transportation Group.

“Sherris has extensive experience that will be extremely valuable to the Shenango Valley community,” said Deanne Koch, who has served as interim executive director since late last year.

Moreira will start in her new role in early June when she succeeds Koch, who announced last fall she was leaving the chamber after 12 years with the organization.

Koch was appointed interim director to take over from Robert McCracken, executive director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, who served as the Shenango chamber’s executive director under a contract between the two chambers. The contract ended last year.

Sherris  served as director of marketing and tourism development with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in the Pittsburgh area, where she developed its tour division, Rivers of Steel Heritage Tour. And she was president of Destination: Greater Pittsburgh, a tourism promotional organization, and a marketing committee member of HeritagePA, which promotes Pennsylvania’s 12 heritage areas.

In addition, she was editor and one of the creators of Views and Voices, a regional women’s magazine found in The Herald newspaper in Sharon, and was a staff writer with the paper before that.

Just as other businesses have had to adjust and change with the times and to embrace or expand their missions, chambers need to showcase or create amenities for businesses to grow and to attract new businesses, Moreira said. “I do feel there is a lot of potential here,” she remarked.

Among the Shenango Valley’s assets are its location between Youngstown and Pittsburgh, and its access to both Interstate 80 and Interstate 79.

More than 60 candidates applied for the position, said Ron McCall, chamber president, who interviewed the three finalists.

“The candidates were all excellent. All would have been great choices,” he remarked.

What set Moreira apart was her background in agencies similar to the chamber, raising money and, in particular, collaborative efforts, an area the chamber has identified as a priority.

The chamber’s news release said Moreira had been charged with “forging a regional collaboration with Penn-Northwest Development Cop. and other chamber, economic development and tourism agencies in Mercer County” and “continuing to work on two-county initiatives” with the Lawrence County chamber, as well as “strengthening the chamber and focusing on returning value to its members.”

McCall credited McCracken with the collaborative vision for organizations within Mercer County as well as with Lawrence County.

“He carried that ball a long way,” he remarked. At the same time as that seemed to be coming together, Lawrence County reorganized how it operated its economic development agency and the chamber, requiring more attention at the same time Mercer County needed to do the same.

“So that was the decision of our board – we needed a dedicated person focused on our county on more of a full-time basis,” he said.

The two chambers continue to hold discussions regarding opportunities to collaborate, McCall added.

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