On Jan. 4, Debra Hanson replaced Janeen Leppert as executive director of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce. But since the resident has a history of involvement with the Chamber as a volunteer, she\u2019s not as much of a newbie as one might think. Hanson, who moved here from New York City in 1990, served three three-year terms on the Chamber\u2019s board of directors, and one one-year term as Chamber president before being hired three weeks ago as the nonprofit\u2019s only full-time employee. Three years after Hanson arrived in Wilton, with a background in marketing she brought from the city, the Colorado native began working for The Hour Publishing Co. in its advertising division. The publisher was involved with the Wilton Chamber. Hanson attributes her own subsequent involvement to that man\u2019s influence. \u201cHe inspired me to become involved with the Chamber,\u201d Hanson said. \u201cThe Chamber was helpful to our business, our ad sales \u2014 it was a good way to network and meet customers.\u201d But Hanson, a Wilton resident, found more than just prospective customers at the Wilton Chamber of Commerce. \u201cThe Chamber always seemed special,\u201d she said. \u201cI started attending events; then I became a member, then a volunteer, and then president. \u201cWhen Janeen left, I thought, considering my experience, both professionally and with the Wilton Chamber, that I might be able to step up,\u201d she said. Apparently, she was right. According to Chamber President Mark Ketley, \u201cWe interviewed many qualified applicants, but Debra\u2019s experience in marketing and advertising, plus her history with Wilton businesses through her past work as a Chamber board member, really made her stand out as a person that is going to take the Chamber to the next level.\u201d Looking forward \u201cEverything is going well,\u201d said Hanson, who attributes the smooth sailing in large part to a \u201cgeneral familiarity\u201d with the Wilton Chamber she acquired through volunteering. \u201cComing into this job,\u201d Hanson said, \u201cI was familiar with how the Chamber works \u2014 with the way events are structured, how the board operates; I\u2019ve known most of the people on our board and in this business community for my whole local career.\u201d She produced the Chamber\u2019s first two 2016 events \u2014 the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast on Jan. 14 and Business After Hours at Bankwell on Jan. 21. \u201cBoth events were very well attended,\u201d Hanson said, \u201cIt feels great to provide something our Chamber membership is interested in. It\u2019s encouraging to get those early successes; now I\u2019ve got to keep the momentum going.\u201d While Hanson enjoys these successes, she is already back at work planning the rest of the year\u2019s events, including Spring Restaurant Week, the farmers\u2019 market, Taste of Wilton, the Golf Classic, and the Street Fair and Sidewalk Sale. And while she tends the Wilton Chamber of Commerce office at 86 Old Ridgefield Road, \u201cI\u2019m reaching out to prospective members, introducing myself to members I don\u2019t know, tackling our financials and keeping the books, and handling everything having to do with the press,\u201d Hanson said. Hanson likes what she sees of the Wilton Chamber now. \u201cWe have a strong, committed board, we\u2019re doing well financially, and I think the community\u2019s perception of the Chamber is a positive one.\u201d That said, there is always room for improvement, Hanson continued. \u201cI\u2019m looking to find places where we can do that,\u201d she said. \u201cWe want to grow our membership and add some corporate members, and I think there are some opportunities for that. Whatever we do, our mission is to advance the commercial and civic interests of the town of Wilton. \u201cWilton is a vibrant community,\u201d Hanson continued, \u201cand I\u2019m excited to continue being a part of it, but in a bigger way. I want to be a resource for the businesses here, and I want the Chamber of Commerce to be a go-to organization for commercial and civic needs.\u201d Information Janeen Leppert left the Wilton Chamber of Commerce in October to pursue another opportunity at a marketing and public relations firm in Charlotte, N.C. Debra Hanson\u2019s appointment to executive director of the Chamber was announced Dec. 15, 2015. She left The Hour Publishing Co. in 2014 as the special sections advertising director. Hanson\u2019s most recent term on the Chamber\u2019s board of directors expired in October 2015.