The Recorder – Executive director leaving Franklin County Chamber of Commerce for Springfield job

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DEERFIELD — Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diana Szynal announced Friday that she is leaving her position in late June after three and a half years at the helm.

Szynal, who became the chamber’s executive director in December 2018, will take on the role of president of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce on July 5.

“This was just a great opportunity that presented itself,” Szynal said in a phone interview. “I love Franklin County, I love this job, it was a tough decision, but man, what a great opportunity.”

As she starts her work in Hampden County, Szynal said she will have a unique perspective of the Pioneer Valley with her experiences as a lifelong Hampshire County resident, Hatfield Selectboard chair and Franklin County Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“I have all this body of work I have done in Hampshire County for years. … I now have this knowledge and love of Franklin County as well,” Szynal said. “I can bring all of it to Hampden County and really have a perspective that few have in Western Mass.”

In her time with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Szynal created the Franklin County Gift Card program, which offers a gift card that can be used at more than 30 regional businesses; helped create the online creative community of ArtsHub; and most recently facilitated the chamber’s move from Main Street in Greenfield to Historic Deerfield. The move, Szynal has said in the past, is to create a more accessible and effective visitors center for Franklin County.

Accomplishments

Reflecting on her time with the chamber, Szynal said she “streamlined some operations” and said the move of the chamber’s office and visitors center is one of her biggest accomplishments, which was spurred by the idea that the Chamber of Commerce can contribute to the regional economy by creating a true visitors center at one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations. The chamber’s previous visitors center was located in the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Greenfield, which was reduced to appointment-only visits when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I think it’s really important we have that,” Szynal said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

Shelby Snow Hasanbasic, chair of the chamber’s board of directors, thanked Szynal for her years of work with the chamber and highlighted her problem-solving abilities.

“Diana steered the chamber through the difficulties presented by the pandemic and has had a positive impact on both the organization and the region in a number of important ways,” Snow Hasanbasic said in a statement. “Her ability to build collaborations and solve problems has been a great asset for us.”

Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Snow Hasanbasic said the process for finding a new executive director will start in the “next week or two” as the board of directors assembles a search committee and posts the job listing.

She said the board is hoping for a “couple weeks of overlap” in June where Szynal could help guide the new executive director through their first few weeks on the job.

Snow Hasanbasic said she thinks Szynal will continue to do great work for the region.

“She’ll be doing big things for Western Massachusetts,” Snow Hasanbasic said. “We’re excited for her and they’re lucky to have her.”

Robert Betsold, technical marketing director of All States Materials Group, said Szynal encouraged the company to join the Chamber of Commerce in 2019, which helped ASMG forge “invaluable connections” with key legislative and economic officials in the county.

“Through those relationships, ASMG was able to secure grants that will help us grow our operations and create more jobs at our site in Deerfield,” Betsold said in statement issued by the chamber. “Diana was instrumental in helping us with that. Our chamber membership and her assistance has made a huge difference for us.”

Szynal said her time working in Franklin County is something she’ll never forget and she will continue to be a presence in the area, even if she’s working in Springfield.

“I think I’m gonna really remember how warm, welcoming and friendly everybody in Franklin County is, and how the spirit of collaboration up here is nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Szynal said. “It’s really not goodbye, I’m just heading a little south.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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