New Chamber Board Chair Jennifer Perry Brings Leadership, Heart and a Record of Accomplishment
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
August 12, 2022
Our volunteer Board of Directors is one of the Sedona Chamber’s greatest assets. Made up of Chamber members their talent and connections make them a powerhouse for good. No one personifies that better than our new Chair, Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona Regional Director Jennifer Perry.
Chances are you are aware of Jennifer. Always upbeat and focused, she seems to be everywhere, growing and overseeing distribution of the Foundation’s endowed charitable funds. ACF-Sedona has been remarkably successful since she took the helm in 2019, doubling funds under management from $8 million to more than $15 million. More than 40 nonprofits received awards through the Foundation’s competitive process in 2021, such as the Verde Valley Senior Center, the Sedona Community Food Bank and Law Enforcement Heroes.
But Jennifer wasn’t always a Northern Arizona philanthropic force. She started her career as a successful business executive in Boston; her transition to Sedona began with her father’s illness 20 years ago. “Back in 1987, my parents purchased a house in the VOC, now internet-famous as the ‘Elvis House,'” she remembers. “I came to visit in 2002 with my husband and young daughters. My father was very ill. To get the girls out of the house, I brought them to Big Park School. I looked up, saw our little red house on the hill, and contemplated our family’s path.”
At the time, Jennifer was running a family-owned industrial automation distributorship. “When my father passed away, I realized I wanted more from life than helping large companies make more products cheaper and faster,” she recalls. “I wanted more meaning.”
By 2003, the Perrys had sold their business and relocated to Sedona. “It was scary, but we never looked back,” she remembers. “It is the best thing my husband James and I have ever done. Thanks to the beautiful community they were raised in, our daughters are grounded, strong young women today, and we are celebrating 28 years of marriage.”
Jennifer says the move to Sedona helped her “understand how hard it is to make a living here and raise children,” she says. “There are few good-paying jobs. We worked hard to raise two daughters and be able to stay here.”
“Becoming involved with the Chamber enlightened me to the challenges small businesses face, and I see countless opportunities for collaboration to help them succeed,” she added.
Today, Jennifer sees our region and the Chamber facing new challenges in a changed world. “Who could have predicted outdoor recreation would see record numbers, recreational vehicle sales would skyrocket, people across the globe would shift to work-from-home and move to rural areas?” she asks. “Or that housing prices would skyrocket, and businesses wouldn’t be able to hire employees?”
She says placing blame and finger-pointing in the face of these challenges is pointless and distracting. “The breadth of talent and compassion in this relatively small area is astounding,” she avers. “I see it every day at the Community Foundation. It is my goal to help bring us together for the good of Sedona, to help bridge the gap between the business community and concerned residents,” she says.
“At ACF-Sedona, I focus on the community’s needs, whether environmental preservation, addressing quality of life issues, education, supporting the arts, caring for seniors or feeding the hungry. I bring that sensibility to the Chamber Board.”
“We need to collaborate for thoughtful solutions,” she concludes. “At the Chamber, we are listening to the community, responding to challenges and opportunities, and identifying how our resources can benefit all Sedona.”
We’re deeply grateful for Jennifer’s caring, can-do attitude and commitment to greater Sedona. I know our Board and membership were as thrilled as I was when she was chosen Board Chair. We know her vision and leadership can and will inspire all Sedonans in the days ahead.
–Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau