by MEGAN HUSSEY
When the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce honored executive director Pat Crowley on the occasion of her 20 year anniversary with the Chamber May 27, they honored–not only a community leader–but a community institution.
“Pat Crowley defines community,” said Marilyn Pearson-Adams, Immediate Past Chairman of the chamber executive board of directors and owner of Century 21 Alliance Realty. “Not only does she know almost everyone, she has an uncanny ability of bringing businesses and people together. Wherever Pat goes, if the opportunity presents itself, she will take time to connect people. Because of those introductions great working relationships and friendships have been formed. Pat promotes and inspires others to work in collaboration through the forming of community partnerships for the continued growth of not only Hernando County, but for all Chamber members. Pat Crowley is a courageous leader, she is smart, loyal, faithful, dedicated to the Chamber’s Mission, but above all, for me, Pat Crowley is a true friend, and a person in my life I will forever be grateful for.”
Yet when Crowley was honored recently at the chamber’s virtual Monthly Membership Meeting, she was surprised by the honor.
“With everything going on, I didn’t think much about it being my anniversary,” she said. “But it was a great day. I am so happy they did that for me.”
Throughout these challenging times, Crowley and the chamber have remained open and operational to serve the Hernando community; reflecting the strong spirit of leadership that has guided this New York native through her two decades of service to the Hernando community.
“I truly believe in and work every day by our mission,” she said. ” ‘We strengthen our business environment to enable our members to prosper.’ I consider it a calling to help our local businesses.”
As a veteran of the hospitality business who at one point owned a restaurant in Weeki Wachee, Crowley over time developed a deep appreciation for the Hernando business community.
“I’ve met so many great people here,” she said. “The community in Hernando supports businesses–and vice versa. I’m just so impressed by the people here, and how they support each other.”
Hired in 2000 as a membership development officer for the Chamber, this Hernando Beach resident worked her way up quickly to assume the title of president and CEO.
In her quest to best represent and promote the businesspeople of Hernando, Crowley and her leadership team have formulated concrete objectives aimed toward the support and empowerment of Hernando businesses.
“To guide in the accomplishment of the mission, five basic objectives have been established as the basis for programming and policy decisions of the organization,” reads the Chamber website. “Work to overcome barriers to future economic development and a healthy and positive business climate. Improve the area’s ability to expand and enhance employment opportunities. Improve the overall quality of life and standard of living for the total community. Work to develop the rich human, natural, technological and man-made resources of Hernando County to further enhance economic opportunities. Provide support services and systems to benefit the members of your Chamber and consistently represent and advocate the best interests of the members of the organization.”
Under Crowley’s leadership, the chamber further established four Pillars of Success to help facilitate these objectives: Marketing, Networking, Advocacy and Training; along with a full and ongoing schedule of events, seminars and programs aimed to support and educate its members.
“We are a hands on chamber and board,” she said. “We do what we can to bring the community together.”
These actions include a centrally located chamber office at 15588 Aviation Loop Dr, Brooksville, an active and comprehensive website at https://www.hernandochamber.com/, as well as ongoing Chamber programs.
Programs include the Chamber Education Training Association (CETA), “a 501(c)3 organization which offers the community support in the education and training of the community,” including training and scholarship programs; Leadership Hernando, a comprehensive education program geared toward advancing the careers and leadership tracks of area businesspeople; in person and virtual Business 2 Business meetings; Brooksville Matters; networking and technology committees; and Hernando Under 40 (LINC). Events include Student Recognition Banquet, Hop and Glo Easter egg hunts that have been known to draw 1500 people, women’s empowerment events such as the recent Women in Leadership Summit, Untapped Craft Beer celebrations for adults, regular ribbon cuttings for member businesses, and Chamber golf tournaments. The chamber has published glossy magazines and business guides, has online business directories and event calendars, and is about to launch a podcast.
“Pat is Hernando County’s finest “Connector”!” said Teri Nichols, License Owner of Spherion Staffing in Brooksville. “Always looking to help businesses get in touch with the resources they need to grow. She is the epitome of professionalism, and deeply cares about making our community better and stronger by helping businesses prosper every day. Her dedication to our Chamber is unsurpassed!”
Crowley has in the past delighted at the sight of 200 guests in attendance at chamber meetings; and now that the chamber conducts many meetings and seminars online, along with social media interviews with local business owners regarding services they’re offering the public during these challenging times, her pride truly swells.
“I’ve seen this chamber through 9/11, the recession, and now COVID-19,” said Crowley. “I’m just so impressed at how the people of Hernando County are supporting each other.”
And the people of Hernando, in turn, are impressed with Pat Crowley.
“Pat Crowley possesses an outstanding combination of natural abilities, work and life experiences, knowledge, and personality that enable her to be a strong and positive leader in Hernando County,” said Donna Burdzinski, Ed.D., Provost, North Campus, Pasco-Hernando State College and Chairman of the Board at the chamber. “She serves as a true catalyst to connect the right people, businesses, and organizations with one another, and is recognized for helping to make things better for Hernando County. Pat cares greatly about the people and businesses in Hernando County and she works hard to support the economic growth of the county. Most recently, she led the Chamber to provide accurate and complete information about resources pertaining to the COVID-19 virus, including offering Town Hall webinar meetings with business and organizational leaders, and our local, state, and national elected officials.”
As the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce joins the Hernando business community in emerging and moving forward, safely but certainly, Pat Crowley is here–and joyfully so.
“I am truly blessed,” she said.