Lifelong Franklin County resident tapped to lead Chamber of Commerce

  • Departing Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diana Szynal, left, and her successor, Jessye Deane, who is Community Action Pioneer Valley’s director of communications and development. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2022 7:34:54 PM
Modified: 5/26/2022 7:32:57 PM

DEERFIELD — Jessye Deane, director of communications and development for Community Action Pioneer Valley, has been named the new executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

Deane, who has served on the chamber’s board of directors since 2019, will assume the role in late June. Current Executive Director Diana Szynal, who has held the position since December 2018, is taking over as president of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce in July.

“I’m absolutely excited to get to work. I think there’s a lot of hard work and great opportunity ahead,” Deane said by phone. “Franklin County has so much potential. I’m excited to jump right in. … Diana’s done a fantastic job and I’m really looking forward to adding onto what she was able to build and maintain during the pandemic.”

Szynal said there will be a smooth transition to Deane, whom she described as a “Wonder Woman.” Szynal said there will be “some overlap” as Deane works with her through the month of June in this “really important” transition period.

“I’m thrilled,” Szynal said by phone. “Jessye has been a great board member and she’s a real champion of chambers. And being a business owner will make her so effective in this role.”

In addition to her role with Community Action, Deane and her husband, Danny, own and operate two fitness studios, F45 Training Hampshire Meadows in Hadley and F45 Training Riverdale in West Springfield.

As she prepares to take the helm, Deane, a lifelong Franklin County resident and Bernardston native, said she developed a 14-page strategic plan that she presented during the candidate screening process, which she expects to begin working on right away.

“We’re going to jump right into the strategic planning process,” she said, noting some of the challenges the county faces include the lingering pandemic and staff shortages. “I think we need to address the challenges we’re facing now and be really open about the fact that they may be different in six months.”

Shelby Snow Hasanbasic, chair of the chamber’s board of directors, said the board is “thrilled” to welcome Deane into her new role.

“Her ability to connect with the community and build business relationships is a tremendous asset for Franklin County and our membership,” Snow Hasanbasic said in a press release. “Her vision for refining and building on the chamber’s role in Franklin County is exciting, and we believe her expertise in community collaboration will excel successful partnerships for the greater good of our members, our community and our visitors.”

Deane spent 12 years working with Community Action. Clare Higgins, Community Action’s executive director, said Deane has “been wonderful to work with” and her presence will be missed, but she knows that the chamber will be a great partner. In Deane’s time there, Higgins said she “supercharged our fundraising,” as the nonprofit’s private funding has increased by more than 1,600%.

“The chamber works to create a strong economy and that strong economy is needed for the people we work with,” Higgins said. “It’s such a great opportunity for her.”

As she prepares to take over, Deane said she is “honored to serve Franklin County in this role.”

“I live here, I’m raising a family here, these are my neighbors and I’m really committed to the work,” she said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to be as effective as possible in this role and to exceed expectations.”

Chris Larabee can be reached be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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