ALPENA - Deb Pardike has worked for the Alpena Convention and Visitor's Bureau for 19 years and has played a significant role in several efforts that have led to making Alpena a more attractive destination for visitors and more appealing for its residents. In January, Pardike is leaving her position as executive director of the CVB and moving out of the area she loves dearly.
Pardike said as much as she loves her job and treasures the times she has had in Alpena, leaving it behind and moving to Gagetown is necessary for a personal reason.
"I got married and I met the man of my dreams and I am going to be relocating to be with him," Pardike said. "I am going to stay with the CVB into the middle of January to help with the transition of the new director and will take calls to help if I'm needed, but I need to be with my new husband."
Over the course of her time working for the CVB Pardike has played a significant role in several key projects that have helped spur activity and growth in Alpena. She was a leader in getting the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary designated a protected area and helped promote through her efforts with Pure Michigan. For her efforts with the sanctuary, she received an National Environmental Hero award from the Department of Commerce in 2001.
Pardike said the new branding effort could be as important to Alpena as the creation of the sanctuary and the next important step in getting the word out about Alpena and what it has to offer is for residents to take ownership of the brand and feel pride in Alpena. She said that will be an intregral part in making the new branding effort a success.
"The challenge will be to get the community to embrace the new brand and for everyone working on implementing it to keep their eyes on the prize," Pardike said. "Anything the CVB does needs to focus on that. That is our promise; that is who we want to become. People can't lose sight of what it is we want to become because we need to be able to deliver on that promise. When we can deliver on that promise we are going to have the type of Alpena everyone has longed for. There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that are falling into place and the branding effort is just another one of them."
Pardike said the CVB board of directors has advertised to find her replacement and applicants have until Friday to submit their resumes. She said the board expects to make a hire just after the first of the year. With the way things are set up with the CVB's marketing plans and the branding effort, she said she expects the new director will be able to make a smooth transition.
"There are timelines in place and committees in place that are actively working on all of this stuff, so dropping someone into something that is already planned and in the works should be an easy thing to do," Pardike said. "Whoever comes into this position is coming into it in a time when there are a lot of exciting things taking form."
Even after she moves Pardike said Alpena will always hold a special place in her heart and she will keep track of its progress even though she won't be directly involved any longer. She said she is proud in what she has helped Alpena become and where it is headed in the future.
"I have always been very passionate about Alpena and I have sometimes felt that nobody loves Alpena more than I do," Pardike said. "I have always loved Alpena and have always believed in Alpena and its potential of what it can become. I truly feel Alpena is on its way to becoming a great destination and on its way to reaching the potential it has always had. To say I had a part in that brings me a lot of satisfaction."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.