by: MAYGAN BECKERS - Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce kept secret its choice for executive director for more than a month. On Friday, the Chamber revealed that Harry Lee Kwai, a longtime volunteer and supporter of Chamber programs, will take the lead.Harry Lee Kwai will join Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce as the new executive director March 1 and will end his marketing and sales management position at Datavision Communications at the end of February.

Lee Kwai, who has lived in Canby for 38 years, is a past member of the Canby Chamber Board of Directors, first recipient of the President Choice Award of the Canby Chamber, recipient of the Livable City Center Award for leadership in Canby’s Winning Second Avenue Downtown Revitalization Streetscape Project, recipient of Woodburn’s Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award and was the first recipient of the Ambassador of the Year Award in 2009.

“Our new director has rich experiences professionally and personally,” said Amanda Pratt, president of Woodburn Chamber of Commerce. “He has broadening skills in marketing, sales, public relations, and community involvement.”

Serving in leadership roles, Lee Kwai said he has developed relationships and trust with current chamber members. His background of working with Rhonda Judson, former office assistant at Woodburn’s Chamber of Commerce, allowed him to keep greeters organized, thriving and dynamic.

With a Bachelor of Science in social science at Boise State University and a Master of Education from the University of Oregon, Lee Kwai emphasized the importance of collaboration in his work.

“It’s my nature to build positive relationships. I like when people connect,” stated Lee Kwai. “I understand the nuances of how there’s a myriad of ways that people connect and we’ve been able to do that with the greeters program to some extent.”

He feels he can instill a can-do attitude with others and has a desire to help his community.

“I want to better assess what the independent businesses need,” Lee Kwai said.

He emphasized the importance for businesses to come together during tough times and times of joy. His passion for encouraging others came from lifelong mentor Lorin Gill who passed on Oct. 1, 2010.

“He’s the guy who really took me under his wing and encouraged me and said I could do it,” Lee Kwai said. “He became my benefactor in life. My kids call him grandpa; that’s how close he was.”

He looks forward to current chamber member’s feedback and hopes they feel they will obtain good value and benefit from their membership. He plans to recruit new members to sing the chamber song about the virtues of a united business community that is centered on the vitality of a community.

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