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Staff & Volunteers



CEO - Jessica Helms

I moved to Charlotte after graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing. I landed in the hospitality industry where I served for almost 20 years with a fantastic company and an amazing team. This was my first introduction to a Chamber of Commerce.  

started by attending networking meetings and events with three different Chambers in the Charlotte area. Our company sponsored Chamber events as well and my network of business connections and friends grew. In 2012, I joined the board of the SouthPark Chapter of the legacy Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chair in 2017 and later, Chair of the merged entity Charlotte Regional Business Alliance in 2019.  

I have also had the honor to serve on the Board of the National Association for Catering and Events (2005-2011), The Sandbox (2017-2018), North Carolina Business Travel Association (2019 – 2020), and Ace & TJ’s Radio Family Charity (2018 – Present).  

The saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is true. For me, the Chamber was an integral part of building my “who you know”. I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to build connections for others in the Charlotte business community through the NEW Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce. 


COO - Michael Orzech

In 2003, I left the corporate world and started a new business.  My mentor, who had been in the business for 20 years, and books I was reading at the time, both suggested joining the local Chamber of Commerce, so I did.  Within the first year of business, I was on the board of one Chamber, a member of another and thinking about joining a third, when we decided to move to Charlotte.  The first thing I did when I moved to Charlotte was to join the legacy Charlotte Chamber at the time and many other membership based organizations.  For several years, sixty percent of my business was coming from the connections I made at the Chamber.   

The legacy Chamber was also involved in local government which allowed me to have a seat on the Mayor’s Business Advisory Committee for 6 years as a Chamber representative.  I was also given the opportunity to serve on the Board of the University City Chapter for 6 years, be a chamber ambassador, connector, work on the annual campaign for 10 years, and volunteered on committees for special events.  Participating in all these things lead to meeting people who could help me with my business and become good friends along the way.   

When the opportunity arose to start a NEW Chamber of Commercecolleagues and friends encouraged us to start it and said we needed it.  I think they felt the same way I did. 

Moving forward with the New Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce, I am looking forward to helping people connect and grow and to build a strong business community that supports local businesses long into the future. 


Administrative Assistant - Hanaa Chrestia

My career started in the restaurant and bar industry, where I spent 12 years immersing myself in various roles. This experience not only enriched my understanding of business operations but also deepened my connection with the Charlotte community. With a desire to foster growth and success in our area, I returned to academia. My goal was clear: to equip myself with the skills necessary to support and elevate small businesses in our region. I believe that the prosperity of local enterprises is intricately linked to their engagement with the community.

It was on this journey that I crossed paths with Michael and Jessica. I am very thankful for them in helping me to embark on this journey with my Charlotte community. As I embark on this exciting new chapter, I am eager to contribute to our collective success. My commitment is to support each of your businesses, helping them not only to thrive but to excel in every aspect. I look forward to collaborating, learning, and growing alongside each of you in the vibrant Charlotte business community Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce.


Ambassadors Committee

The Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors play an essential role in member communication, engagement, and retention. These enthusiastic volunteers attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies, welcome new members, and serve as advocates for the chamber.

They are volunteers who help guide new members through the programs, services, and opportunities the Chamber offers. Their tasks include conveying member needs, answering questions, and ensuring members understand the full scope of offerings the chamber provides.

Essentially, they serve as the friendly face and connection to the chamber, encouraging member involvement and value from their membership.

Membership Committee Chair - Terri DeBoo

Terri DeBoo is the owner of Terri DeBoo Ideas@Work. Terri is active in the community, lending her years of marketing, sales and management experience to the many boards and committees she has and does serve in Charlotte.

Terri was named 2007 Charlotte Business Woman of the Year finalist by Queens University and Wachovia Corporation.  In 2010 and 2016, Mecklenburg Times named Terri as one of the “50 Most Influential Women”. Most recently, Terri was highly honored when named The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2013 “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year.”

Highly networked, Terri uses her talents to connect business, non-profit, and government entities for better relationship and business building opportunities. Terri is credited as the catalyst for business expansion into North Carolina for many companies including IKEA.  A consummate fundraiser, to date Terri has raised over 3 million dollars for the Charlotte area.  Along with the legacy Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, Terri has served or is serving on the Chamber’s: Legislative Committee, chairs the Workplace Issues Committee, and captains a team for their Capital Campaign. Other service includes: Blumenthal Performing Arts Development Campaign, City of Charlotte Business Advisory Committee, Chairman Charlotte International Cabinet, CharlotteSaves Board of Advisors, Chair of WTVI Friends Board, Rotary Youth Exchange Board District 7680, Rotary of Charlotte Club Membership Chair, Executive Leadership Committee for “Go Red for Women” American Heart Association, and the Leadership Charlotte Marketing Committee, and Founding Board of Directors Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage among others.

Having moved from Chicago in 1999, Terri immediately jumped into the Charlotte volunteer environment while representing All American Roofing, Inc. as the Marketing Director/Community Relations Officer. In 2012 Terri launched Terri DeBoo Ideas@Work, where she serves as a Business Growth Advisor helping companies grow through convergence, integration and connection into the Charlotte Community; building strategies and utilizing Networking, Sales, Business Development, and Customer Service Training.

Terri, husband Mark and son Blaine enjoy travel and seeing the world but, love to come home to Charlotte.

Programs Committee Co-Chair  - Linda Lemmons

Linda is a result driven sales and marketing professional with success in corporate, hospitality, and retail industries. She received her B.S. in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama. Linda currently serves as Co-Chair of Healthy Charlotte, a Coalition under the American Heart Association. Healthy Charlotte appreciates the support of the Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce as they work to provide tools and resources to business to improve the health and well-being of their associates. Linda is an independent contractor focusing on special projects. She is working with Grace Communications as a Business Development Specialist.

Linda and her husband enjoy cheering on the Crimson Tide – Roll Tide Roll, with their two boxers by their side. She is enthusiastic about connecting leaders and cultivating volunteer and corporate engagement. She enjoys volunteering with her church and area nonprofits, golfing, reading, and spending time outdoors.

Programs Committee Co-Chair  - Alex Roper

Alex Roper attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, where he received his bachelor’s degree in finance and his Master of Business Administration. He is a registered investment advisor representative and holds his NC Life, Accident and Health, and Medicare Supplement/Long Term Care insurance licensures.

When he’s not spending time with his wife and dogs, Alex enjoys playing instruments, reading, and volunteering with non-profit organizations.  He is a volunteer mentor with ENGin, a nonprofit organization that pairs Ukrainian youth and young professionals with English-speakers for free online conversation practice and cross-cultural connection. He is a tech support volunteer at Sharon Towers, a retirement community in Charlotte. He is also a volunteer presenter for the Money Magnets Club, an online and physical community (based in Charlotte, NC) that encourages entrepreneurship and financial literacy among elementary school kids and their families through exposure, education, and resources, to build generational wealth.

Public Policy Committee Chair - Bryan Holladay

Bryan Holladay is an expert in local politics. Over the last two decades, he has used his expertise in Charlotte politics to help organizations with their public affairs management, professional networking and executing grassroots initiatives within the Charlotte region. Bryan is a Principal at CLT Public Relations, a boutique Government Affairs Firm that focuses on advocacy and networking services in for the greater Charlotte market.

Women in Business Committee Co-Chair - Shawna Dye Culik

Shawna Dye Culik started life in rural Tennessee but has since lived in all corners of the United States, traveled to all 50 states, and has been to more than 35 countries so far. Her travels led her to Michigan, where she met her life and business partner, Joe, on a good night, in a good bar. They’ve been pretty much inseparable since and now have one fur child, Ava, a miniature schnauzer rescue pup. Shawna has founded, scaled, and sold multiple successful businesses, including a marketing agency and law firm (with Joe) in Boston, Massachusetts. In pursuit of warmer climates and fresh opportunities, they relocated to Charlotte to start Dye Culik PC, a business and franchise law firm. Shawna has a passion for working with businesses, particularly women in business, and utilizes her education and background to market and grow the firm. Three of her favorite past-times are writing, photography, and travel, which she used to found the Southern travel and photography brand, Southern Reverie.

Women in Business Committee Co-Chair - Emily Green

The founder and CEO of Grace Communications, Emily Green, has over 15 years of experience leading marketing, public relations, event planning, and business development efforts for companies all over the United States. She has demonstrated a history of success with helping develop new companies and departments as well as extensive event planning and social media experience. She also has been responsible for public relations efforts in top markets all over the country such as Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Charlotte. Her passion for marketing and helping businesses grow is what led her to form Grace Communications. Emily also has a passion for speaking and educating others in fun, unique ways. She has a variety of experience with public speaking including hosting fashion shows, events, live television segments, grand openings, conferences, and virtual training sessions.

Young Professionals Committee Co-Chair - Brittany (Canaski) Duerksen

Brittany is a life & leadership coach, speaker, and the founder of Hello Velocity where she helps ambitious individuals and corporate teams accelerate their personal and professional goals. After spending nearly a decade climbing the corporate ladder, she discovered the power of coaching in her own life, and quickly knew that this was a legacy she wanted to share with others, so Hello Velocity was born. Brittany has a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and graduated from a 12-month intensive leadership & coach training program with Accomplishment Coaching. When she isn't building her business you can find her planning her next adventure, taking a kickboxing class, or checking out a local brewery.

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