Maura Durham, the President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, grew up in Michigan City where she attended and graduated from Michigan City High School. She then continued her education at Ball State University where she majored in advertising and with a minor in psychology.
She started her first job out of college with The Times Media Company where she was an account executive.
While working with The Times, she did a lot of networking events with the Duneland Chamber of Commerce and was able to meet a lot of the business owners in town.
“I was initially asked to join the ambassador committee seven years ago, from the then Duneland Chamber of Commerce president, which welcomes new businesses,” she said. “So I was able to go out and represent The Times newspaper, but was also able to shake hands and meet some of the new people that were starting new businesses, or get to know businesses that had not taken advantage of the chamber opportunities before.”
The Duneland Chamber of Commerce not only works with local businesses, but also plans and organizes events. The chamber has about 500 members and focuses on the economic development of the town of Chesterton.
While Durham was still involved with the chamber’s ambassador committee, she left her job at The Times for a job within a small marketing company, then decided to take a few years off to expand her family.
However, four years ago, she was offered and accepted a job as the membership engagement director at the Duneland Chamber of Commerce.
“I felt like I was coming home when I accepted my position with the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. It did not feel like there was a big learning curve at all because I had already spent so much time in the chamber and with the businesses, that it was a comfortable and easy transition,” she said.
After the first year as the membership engagement director, she interviewed for and was offered the position as the president of the chamber, taking over the president duties of making sure all the members of the chamber are getting what they need to help better the community.
“I need to make sure that the members of the commerce are seeing the value in being a chamber member. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities for businesses with education, events, networking, and building the community,” she said. “We just want to make the community a nicer place to work, live, and play.”
Durham’s favorite part about being the president for the Duneland Chamber of Commerce is being able to give a voice to all of the small community businesses.
“I get to be on the forefront of what issues are going on and figure out how we are going to combat them,” she said. “Having a voice for the business community as a whole is something I am proud of and it keeps me excited and motivated everyday.”
The tight-knit feel is what makes the community special and Durham’s love for her busy role as the president are all worth it.
“I have a deep love for this community. Our community is very different and tight knit and it feels like home to a lot of people. There is something very special knowing that when you go into a business in our area, you have a high possibility of speaking to the owner while you are purchasing their products, or services,” she explained. “It is very important to remember to shop local whenever possible because it is really impactful for the area and for all of us.”
Outside of Durham’s busy schedule, she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, cooking, and reading.
You can find her at local Duneland events, browsing around the Chesterton Farmer’s Market with her family. The people in Duneland take pride in their local shops and small, unique restaurants, and it is thanks to Durham and her work in the chamber that help keep these businesses the first choice on people’s list.