The executive director of the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce celebrated 20 years in her position this month.
Dawn Mushill made the two-decade mark on June 6.
“It has been quite a ride. If anyone would have told me that the journey would include everything that I have done, I would have never believed them,” she said.
Along the way, she danced with Elvis, rode on a circus elephant, threw out the first pitch at a minor league game, sang with a big band, climbed a cell tower, held an alligator, dressed up as Santa, and served an organization that has changed its name four times.
And the Chamber has flourished in the meantime. Membership grew from 111 members in 2000 to 500 members in 2019. Mushill contributes much of the success to her board of directors, ambassadors, staff and members.
“If you surround yourself with great people, great things will happen” said Mushill. She has literally met thousands of people in her time at the Chamber and has built long-term relationships with many of them.
Chamber presidents have been an intricate part of the success. Past presidents include Gerry Eckert, Jeff Maclin, Jean Myers, Dr. Mike Johnson, Chad Davis, Linda Manley (who is serving her second term as president in 2020) and several others.
“I remember applying for the position in February of 2000. I had left a previous position in January and was teaching full time for Southwestern Illinois College while I was looking for a job. We had moved from Granite City and built a house in Troy in February. I saw the job advertisement in the Times-Tribune and applied, at that time knowing absolutely no one in Troy. There were 78 applicants for the position so I didn’t think I had a chance. In the first interview, I remember taking a list of suggestions that the Chamber could do. I explained that even if I didn’t get the job, the Chamber could use the list.”
On her second interview, she arrived with even more suggestions. On the third interview, even more.
“After a couple of weeks following the third interview, I received a call from then Chamber President Gerry Eckert. He said the board had met and they felt like the budget could provide me a little more money than they were expecting to spend. At that point, I had no idea how much the job paid, but of course in my head I am thinking executive director, $40K, full benefits, etc. I remember Gerry’s call like it was yesterday: ‘Dawn, we think it might be a stretch, but we believe you could help us bring in new revenue so that we could sustain your salary. We would like to offer you $9/hour at 30 hours a week,’ and I said without hesitation, ‘I will take it’.”
That was a 55 percent pay cut from her previous job and zero benefits.
“I just felt like this position just had so many possibilities. There was no looking back then. The funniest thing that happened was on my first day the three sets of ideas were on my desk. And, yes, we have accomplished those and I still have the lists.”
She added: “If you have a passion for your job, it is really never a job.”
Mushill has an associate degree from Southwestern Illinois College, a bachelor degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a dual Master’s Degrees from Webster University. Mushill also owns her own company, Customer Service and Beyond, and has published a book “Customer Service and Beyond … it is all about the WOW.” She is also a member of the National Speakers Association and has received numerous honors and awards from a variety of organizations and has been interviewed on many television and radio stations.