Denise Nowell is excited about the opportunity for growth at Zebulon’s doorstep, and now, she’s in a position to be part of the action.
The Zebulon Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday announced Nowell as its new executive director. On June 2, she will take over the post formerly held by Kim Valentine, who resigned in April.
“As I researched and learned more about (Zebulon), the opportunities for economic growth and the opportunity for some community growth as well, they are set up for a lot to happen in a short amount of time and I’m so delighted that I get to be a part of it,” Nowell said. “I’m excited about the prospect of seeing the community move forward.”
Nowell comes to Zebulon from the Garner Chamber of Commerce, where she has served as vice president and member services director for the past five years.
She considers her greatest contributions in Garner to be her ability to connect and build strong relationships with people, and a mentoring opportunity she arranged for high school- and college-age women to network with professionals during an annual women’s business event. She also serves on the Garner Educational Foundation’s board of directors.
“She has had a great impact here; she’s very conscientious, professional and hard-working,” said Neal Padgett, president of the Garner chamber. “I think she’ll do well. Denise has a very outgoing, friendly personality that’s helped create a welcoming and pleasant environment at the office and at our many events. She’s held in real high regard by our membership and our board.”
Prior to her time in Garner, Nowell worked for Novant Health at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
“With the hospital, a big piece of my role was ... interfacing with families when they were in a crisis situation,” Nowell said. “At the Garner Chamber of Commerce, it was learning the value of a community that has a strong business climate.”
Her start in Zebulon comes at the completion of a a four-year certification program through the Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Nowell said the training is “wholly designed for chamber leaders to do a good job.” Zebulon chamber President Mike Almquist considered it a selling point.
“We were, as a board, ideally looking for someone who could come in with some solid chamber experience,” Almquist said. “When you combine her five years in Garner, a respected chamber of commerce, with this certification, it was very appealing.
“It was a pretty thorough interview process with the chamber board and the town, and (Nowell) sailed through that with flying colors.”
Nowell holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from High Point University. Reared in the Philippines, she speaks two Filipino languages, Tagalog and Ilocano, and has returned to the country as an interpreter and tour guide.
“That’s what I attribute a lot of my big-world view to, is being reared overseas,” she said.
Nowell lives in Garner with with her husband, Stan.