Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire contributor Dr. Sarah Glova is a globally recognized speaker, successful entrepreneur, university instructor, and business consultant. A seasoned educator and entrepreneur, Sarah is CEO of the award-winning digital media firm, Reify Media, With a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and a Master of Science in Technical Communication, she is dedicated to cultivating forward-thinking work environments.
RALEIGH — Entrepreneur and author Jes Averhart was “really surprised” when the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce invited her to host this year’s annual meeting.
“I thought, ‘Why are they having me, a downtown Durham person, host their annual meeting?’” said Averhart, who also writes a weekly column for WRAL TechWire.
A self-described “Bull City girl,” Averhart told me that the Raleigh Chamber’s invitation is an illustration of community values in the Triangle.
“Inviting me to host this is a living example of what it means to collaborate,” said Averhart. “It’s not being afraid to invite someone who has a perspective that’s outside of the Wake County lines.”
Averhart will host and emcee the Raleigh Chamber 2023 Annual Meeting happening Thursday, September 21st, at the Fletcher Opera Theater.
While she lives in Durham (and is a board member for The Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber), she says she’s a “big fan” of the Raleigh Chamber and of Raleigh Chamber CEO Adrienne Cole. And she believes that Cole is dedicated to building relationships beyond Raleigh.
“At the end of the day, Adrienne’s interests live with her Chamber, but she also knows that in order to serve those interests, the relationships need to go beyond her Chamber’s geographic boundaries,” said Averhart.
‘All over the Triangle’
The day we spoke, Averhart was at home in Downtown Durham but had just driven home from Raleigh. (She joked, “I spread my money all over the Triangle!”)
And while her speaking and coaching business takes her across the country (including her signature “Reinvention Roadtrip” program), she shared that most of her coaching clients are based in the Triangle region.
“Eighty-five percent of the women that go through my program are Triangle-based,” said Averhart. “They work in Research Triangle Park, they live in Raleigh, or they live in Holly Springs, or they come up and socialize in Durham.”
A ‘different’ event in the ‘service’ of fun
Averhart also shared a preview of the upcoming annual meeting—which she says will match the Raleigh Chamber’s unique personality.
“Every Chamber in the Triangle has its personality, and Raleigh’s personality is, they are about their business, but they are not afraid to have some fun,” said Averhart.
She shared that the Raleigh Chamber’s 2023 Annual Meeting has been designed as more of a “talk show” with “a big social component.”
“And, you know, a Chamber doesn’t have to do that,” said Averhart. “They’ve got members, people paid their money, they don’t have to do anything like this. They could just run the show and talk about, ‘Here’s the outgoing board, here’s a new incoming board chair, let’s call it a year. But they, in service of their membership and, I think, in service of this brand that they have created over time, have continued to push the envelope and make it fun for their members.”
Thursday’s event kicks off at 2:30 p.m., with a one-hour program starting at 3 p.m. and a networking reception from 4 – 6 p.m.
Including social time in the agenda is intentional, Averhart says—and another example of those same community values.
“I felt like they’ve done a really nice job of making their membership a community and not just, you know, a roster,” said Averhart.