Renee Duxler ’04 has been named the new economic and workforce development director for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. While she takes on multiple duties, a primary focus is the $1.5 million Imagine Salina campaign.
Duxler has a unique background with her degree in social work, experience in nonprofit and a natural gift for community development.
She earned her Master of Social Work from Newman University and once she began taking on administrative roles within nonprofit organizations, she began to find a love for leadership.
Her administrative service began with her role as executive director of Positive Directions, then as the director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association and she also opened her own designer resale clothing store in Wichita, Kansas. Most recently, Duxler was executive director of the Douglas Design District before it ceased operations in April due to COVID-19.
As a small business owner and resident of Wichita for 18 years, Duxler had no plans to leave.
“We have been pretty happy here,” she said. “But a few contacts recommended I apply for the position because of my strong background in recent years with economic and small business development. I interviewed and visited because I had been unemployed for four months at that point, and thought I would at least check it out. I ended up being really blown away by the development, growth and momentum that Salina is experiencing right now, and felt like my unique skill set would be a great match for the position. Luckily, they agreed.”
Duxler has been tasked with selling Salina’s story to the rest of the world. She will spend much of her time talking with employers, residents, small business owners and prospective talent to identify that story.
“(The job) will involve community and economic development, talent recruitment and marketing and public relations; all things that I enjoy, and do well,” she said.
Many find her background in education and social work surprising but Duxler feels it is one of the things that has helped her gain a unique perspective and become so successful in economic and workforce development.
“The skills and experiences that I learned as a social worker actually help me have a really unique and insightful perspective in community, business, workforce and economic development. I have definitely found that I love the synergy of them all.”
Not only does her background in social work help but her educational experience at Newman helped her gain skills that she can apply to any field or position.
“I got some great clinical experience at Newman, and even though I haven’t ended up as a clinician, it still has deeply shaped what I do and how I operate as both a social worker and a leader,” she said.
Duxler is excited to grow in this position and looks forward to tackling the challenge ahead.