Stephanie Petkers, a former Freeport business owner who has an extensive background in marketing, began her job last week as the new executive director of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce.

Petkers, a Freeport resident who has been serving as board vice president for the destination marketing organization FreeportUSA, succeeds Sande Updegraph in the chamber position. Updegraph, who announced in April that she was leaving following two years on the job, agreed to stay on until a replacement was found. She introduced Petkers to the Freeport Town Council on July 7.

Petkers becomes the fifth Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce executive director since the organization’s inception in January 2010. She began her new job July 7 at the chamber office, located on the second floor of the Freeport Community Center. Updegraph will stay on for a bit to assist Petkers, and July 24 will be her final day.

Petkers, 46, has lived in Freeport for 15 years with her husband, Jon, and son, Jonathan, 20. Her husband is a physical therapist at Parkview Hospital in Brunswick.

Following a 24-year career in marketing for the elevator industry, Petkers in 2013 opened The Wishful Moon, a gift shop on School Street featuring the products of Maine artisans. Petkers renovated the building and worked hard to make The Wishful Moon a success, but couldn’t attract the foot traffic needed at a location that is close to Main Street, but not close enough. She closed The Wishful Moon this past February.

“I realized after the store closed, I really felt strongly that I wanted to work for a Maine company that helps Maine people,” Petkers said. “I think it’s a perfect match, from my corporate background and as a former Freeport business owner.”

Updegraph agreed.

“I am delighted to have Stephanie step into this position at the chamber,” Updegraph said. “The organization could not be in better or more enthusiastic hands.”

Petkers said it will be her job, as it has been for Updegraph, “to listen to the needs to membership and to communicate those with members of the public, and to help businesses network.”

She wants to continue the tradition of programs such as Business after Hours, a monthly networking meeting of chamber members at member locations, and ribbon cuttings at new businesses. She also has the perspective of having been one of those business owners herself.

“I would like to use the experience of the time and effort I’ve put in to help people,” she said. “You really have to work hard. It is all about marketing. It’s about small businesses working together and collaborating, and definitely what the chamber can help with. Now it’s not about me, it’s about the organization.”

Carolyn Beem, a Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce board member, said she is confident that Petkers will continue the chamber’s good work.

“Stephanie will be a great leader to continue the work that Sande has put into the chamber,” Beem said. “We are really excited to have Stephanie come on. She is energetic, creative and professional. She will be a great addition to the chamber. She will have a lot in common with our members, and will have a great understanding of their perspective.”

Petkers said she will resign her position at FreeportUSA, and said she benefited from working with Kelly Edwards, executive director for FreeportUSA.

“We’re interested in working more closely together,” Petkers said of the two organizations. “I think Kelly and I will work together because of my association with that group.”

Edwards said she is happy for Petkers, and also looks forward to a complementary association between the two organizations.

“We’re certainly excited to work with her in a different manner,” Edwards said, “and usher in a new era of the two organizations.”

Stephanie Petkers took the position of executive director at the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Courtesy photo

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.