Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce is entering a transition period as Kaitlyn (VanOstran) Fath steps into the position of Executive Director. Fath has been an active member of the chamber's board since March 2018 and served as the chamber secretary before filling the recently vacated director position in early September.
"I really feel like this will be a smooth transition because I am already familiar with the inner workings of the chamber and what the board envisions for our future," said Fath. "I am really excited to step into this new role, where I can better implement our (the boards) plans to build and strengthen Hillsboro's Chamber of Commerce."
Moving Fath into the executive director position gives the chamber an advantage in that the new director has already been instrumental in actualizing plans for growth. Taking on this new responsibility will give Fath not only the ability to steer the chamber towards its vision, but to use her own well-honed marketing and networking skills to expand this vision.
A lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Fath is both professionally and personally invested in the area's growth. Fath grew up in Witt, the daughter of Jim and Sue VanOstran. As a small child, Fath attended St. Paul's Lutheran School in Nokomis. She later met the boy who would become her husband, Eric Fath, in the old gymnasium at Hillsboro Junior High School, and both graduated from Hillsboro High School.
Eric is the son of Roger and Joyce Fath. After high school graduation,(Kaitlyn) Fath moved to Edwardsville where she attended Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville and earned a degree in education with a minor in speech. Fath accepted a job at Fusion Fitness and Aquatics in Hillsboro and opted to move back to the area and commute to Edwardsville throughout her senior year of college. When Eric, a journeyman lineman, was offered a job with Ameren the couple committed to building their life together in the county they were both raised in. The Faths bought a home in Coffeen, where they are happily raising their soon-to-be three year old son, Rory.
Fath has used her professional skill set in several different capacities to develop an adaptability that will be useful in taking on the executive director position, a multi-faceted job that will require her to wear many hats.
Fath began substitute teaching immediately out of college. She then took on a position with Kelly Services of Litchfield where she worked in recruitment.
Fath spent the last four years working as the social services director for Hillsboro Rehab and Health Care.
In addition to her secretarial role on Hillsboro's chamber, Fath has been ardently engaged in bettering the community. An active volunteer for the Hillsboro Area Hospital Health Foundation, she has stepped into the role of event director for this year's Valentine Gala. She is also a member of several Imagine Hillsboro committees and plans to take a hands-on role in executing the organization's plans to expand outreach.
"I found myself wanting to get more involved in the community.” Father said, “and ended up meeting Claire Eskew at one of CTI's business after-hours events, where we started discussing the Valentine Gala. I love event planning, so I offered to help. Having the opportunity to work alongside Claire has been really great for me. She has been an incredible mentor. When she decided to step down from directing the gala, I was given the opportunity to take it on. Thankfully, she is going to stay on to teach me while I get my bearings."
Fath's drive to strengthen her community aligns with her new role as chamber director. Engaged, motivated and ready to act, Fath has large-scale plans to build Hillsboro Chamber's role as a facilitator of local businesses and organizations.
Industrious in nature, she has put a lot of thought and research into the chamber's vision for growth. She plans to start small by addressing immediate needs, such as streamlining communication, expanding membership and strengthening marketing, before taking on long-term goals.
"We (the board) want to see the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce strong and operating in its full capacity,” she said. “A thriving chamber of commerce helps its members and the city as a whole. A thriving chamber can draw tourism to the area and be a strong ally to local organizations. Ultimately, we want to see the chamber broaden services to our members and in doing so, increase membership,” Fath said. “One goal is to branch into offering seminars and training events, and expand networking opportunities. Our overall vision is for the chamber to create a space where all of our members –– businesses and organizations alike –– are working together as a cohesive unit to create better opportunities for everyone."