SWANTON — Suzanne Washburn is stepping down as president of the Swanton Chamber of Commerce after three years in the position.
One might think her obvious achievement during that time was returning Sam and Betty, Swanton’s trademark avians, to the village park. Washburn was at the forefront of residents who persevered through a complicated regulatory process and months of discussions with state officials to put the swans back in Swanton.
“That’s a big deal for me,” Washburn said.
But Washburn listed another achievement as her favorite: hosting the Swanton Chamber’s first mixers in years, one in August 2018, another that October.
“When chamber members came up to me and said, ‘You did a good job’… And having something in the community, for a change, instead of outside. That was a big deal for me,” Washburn said.
This coming August marks 20 years since Washburn moved to Swanton.
She remembered her second week here, going to the town clerk’s office, scanning posted events on the office bulletin board, looking to get involved in her new community.
A posted event caught her eye: a Swanton Revitalization Committee meeting, led by Ron Kilburn and, as Washburn remembered it, a host of local business partners — representatives from Swanton Rexall and the St. Albans Co-Op, members of the Prouty family, Neal Speer.
“I just jumped in with that,” Washburn said.
Washburn made connections there that led her to the Swanton Chamber of Commerce, which she joined. A year later, she became its vice president.
Even after her years with the chamber, Washburn said, her election as its president came as a surprise. She commuted to Chittenden County every day for work at BioTek Instruments, from which she’s also retiring after more than 33 years.
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