As of Tuesday morning, Sept. 14, the new face of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce is Michaela Reed, a familiar face and product of the same community she will now help represent.
Reed said she wanted to apply for the chamber director position before Gavin Gensmer was selected in May 2020.
" I'm still a little intimidated because John is leaving some very, very big shoes. Like Jay (Cline) says, John has so much knowledge up there but how do you squeeze all of that out of him in the short time we'll have him, but I think I'll find my own ways."
— Michaela Reed.
"I called like a day too late after he was already hired," Reed said. "I missed out on that opportunity and kind of kept my ear to the ground about it."
She got the chance again after a rough year from COVID-19 and several unfortunate personal events caused Gensmer to resign. Former 20-year chamber director John Wetrosky returned as an interim director while the search for a replacement commenced.
Now Wetrosky will take Reed under his wing for training before stepping away once again to enjoy retired life. Reed is excited about the prospect.
"I'm still a little intimidated because John is leaving some very, very big shoes," Reed said. "Like Jay (Cline) says, John has so much knowledge up there, but how do you squeeze all of that out of him in the short time we'll have him? But I think I'll find my own ways."
Many aspects of this job won't be new to Reed, who has lived most of her life in Pine River, where she attends the same events she will now help organize, will provide guidance to the same businesses and locations she's frequented as a resident and, in some cases, will organize events she's been participating in and helping to organize for years.
Take the Sept. 10-12 encampment as an example where Reed was dressed in the regalia of the 1940s, cooking over a fire and generally roughing it at Forbes Park.
"I like the history part of learning about certain things, even simple things like which tents are from which time period and if something is historically accurate," Reed said.
Being familiar with the businesses and families in the area will also serve her well, and no doubt the hiring committee considered that an advantage for someone who has lived here.
"I was born in Brainerd and grew up in Pine River for most of my life," Reed said. "I spent a little time in middle school in Cambridge, Minnesota, but otherwise moved back to Pine River and graduated here."
" I think my last two jobs have really helped me in the world of technology and gave me self confidence in those areas."
— Michaela Reed.
Not only has she lived in Pine River for many years, she even got her feet wet in public relations, marketing and event organizing working for the Pine River Public Library where many might remember her.
"I was with the library for four years," Reed said. "Three were with Muriel (Erickson) and one was with Tammy (Beto). I really, really loved the patrons. That's one of the things I missed most about working in Pine River, was getting to see people weekly or sometimes every day. And doing all the programming as well, whether it be the fundraisers or the summer reading programs for the kids. That was a lot of fun."
As far as marketing, an important skill for those who must organize and publicize upcoming events, Reed is an educated professional in the field.
"I did my generals and then went to St. Cloud where I started off going to be a high school English teacher. But then I shifted my focus to major in English and minor in marketing," Reed said.
Growing up in an outdoor family, Reed also knows where to direct visitors to the information center who are looking for a good fishing lake or campground.
"I grew up doing a lot of outdoor things like fishing or camping," Reed said.
Reed has a variety of experiences that might come in handy, having worked at a bank, as an administrative assistant with a Catholic church and recently working in sales and marketing with Lonesome Cottage in Pequot Lakes. Among other skills she is ready to ply as chamber director are her technological talents. She's really hoping to make chamber programming more visible online.
"I think my last two jobs have really helped me in the world of technology and gave me self-confidence in those areas," Reed said.
She's hoping to add a new perspective to the position and rejuvenate the chamber and its activities with her presence. She envisions putting Pine River on the map with at least one of its events, perhaps Parade of Lights in the winter.
"Like how Crosslake is known for their St. Patrick's Day and Pequot Lakes is known for their Bean Hole Days," Reed said. "I would like to find a way to cement us in like that. I'm not sure what that looks like yet."
Reed is raising a family in Pine River with her high school sweetheart, Kyle Amundson. They have a daughter and a son together.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or email@example.com.