New Chamber CEO brings vast experience

By Brandon Gustafson | Oct 17, 2018

The Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce said goodbye to longtime employee and CEO Julie Martin recently, and is now under the leadership of Jackie Breedlove, a longtime California resident who started at the chamber last month.

Martin served as the chamber’s CEO since August 2014, and was the its marketing manager before that. She stepped down to pursue other career opportunities.

“It’s hard replacing someone like Julie,” Breedlove said. “I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night wondering, ‘What didn’t I write down today?’ I have a big pink folder, the ‘Julie Martin folder’ full of questions I have for her.”

Breedlove said she and Martin are meeting this week to discuss running the chamber.

Breedlove got her first experience in Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce events with the Lighthouse Festival last month, where she assisted Martin and others in the Beer Garden.

“When I heard about it (the festival), I thought everyone was making a really big deal about it,” Breedlove said. “Then, when I saw the fencing go up, I realized, this is a big deal here. I got to see firsthand almost all the bands perform, and that’s going to be an awesome opportunity to help organize next year.”

Although Breedlove doesn’t have any firsthand experience running a Chamber of Commerce, she has been associated with more than 20 chambers for the last 12 years, starting in the San Francisco area.

“I owned an ad agency for over 20 years,” she said, “and about 12 years ago I got really interested in member-based organizations. I started promoting some different chambers in the area, and ended up picking up over 20 in California and three in Washington.”

Breedlove moved to Olympia three years ago, where her fascination with chamber of commerce groups really started.

“I started working with different chambers down there, like in Thurston County, and I got immersed in how these different chambers did their business,” she said. “I started bringing in all these new types of programs, and after some success, all these different CEOs and business owners kept asking me, ‘Why aren’t you running your own chamber?’”

After always brushing off the idea, she eventually gave it some more thought.

“The Thurston County chamber’s finance person asked me, and she was probably the 10thcperson or so, and that’s when I started seriously considering it,” Breedlove said.

The Mukilteo chamber had an opening, and Breedlove saw it as a perfect opportunity.

“It’s a water town, it’s small, it’s a lot like where I’m from,” she said. “After three rounds of interviews I got the job, and it’s been great. The members are great, and everyone has been extremely helpful.”

Despite being in Mukilteo a short time, Breedlove already is putting her stamp on the chamber with a new committee for 2019, and increasing their internship program.

“We’ll have a new events committee next year, and we’re going to be putting out new events along with ones people around here know,” she said. “With assisting those 25 chambers all these years, most made me commit to volunteering at their events. As a result, I’ve seen some really amazing events.”

Breedlove is organizing an After Hours event with the Lynnwood and Edmonds chambers of commerce, as well as the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County in November at the Elks Lodge in Lynnwood.

“I’m really excited for that. We want everyone to come out for that,” Breedlove said.

Another new wrinkle the chamber is adding is a “Young Professionals” group.

“That’ll be for young people in the business sector. They’ll have their own meetings, After Hours events, and have different speakers,” Breedlove said. “Recruitment for that will be based solely on age. They have completely different concerns than other business people, and I’ve seen things like this do very well with other chambers.”

Although she’s away from her longtime home in California, Breedlove said she’s falling in love with her new town. She joked that most of her life is spent on the Mukilteo Speedway.

“I live just off the Speedway, I work off the Speedway; everything you need is on the Mukilteo Speedway!” Breedlove said.

Mukilteo is known for its ferry terminal, and Breedlove said that’s one element that makes Mukilteo so unique and interesting to her.

“Ferries in California are foot ferries, so it was really different driving my car onto it,” she said, laughing. “I was raised in a small, beach community, and that’s what this is. It’s got the water, great views, great people, and it’s a really cute little town.”

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