Della Schmidt, President
Della serves as President of the Winona Area Chamber. As President, Della is responsible for the internal operations of the organization and staff. She also serves as the primary contact for business and community concerns and issues. Della also manages the local Grow Minnesota! program and serves as a Chamber liaison to affiliate organizations such as the Winona Area Industrial Development Association (WAIDA), MN Intelligent Rural Community project (MIRC) operated by the University of MN Extension and others. Della’s career in the Chamber profession spans more than 19 years in three Minnesota Chambers; St. Peter, Cloquet and currently Winona.
The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce serves a membership of more than 500 in a community area of 30,000. During her career, Della has served on the MCCE Board of Directors, the SE Central Workforce Council, and the MN Chamber Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. She led the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce to receive the MCCE "Step One" Designation, and the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce to receive the MCCE "Mark of Excellence" designation.
Della has completed the Blandin Leadership program, the US Chamber Institute Program for Organizational Management, has received the MN Certified Chamber Professional (MCCP) designation, and was awarded the MCCE Public Affairs Award in 2004. She was recognized for her work in agribusiness public policy in May 2006, when she received a United States Congressional Recognition for her efforts to promote economic development through livestock agriculture in Southern Minnesota. Della has attended the Saint Mary’s University Philanthropy and Development program for Creating & Sustaining Effective Boards for Non-Profit Organizations and serves on numerous community boards and committees.
Della has been an avid member of Toastmaster International and has achieved the Competent Toastmaster (CTM), and the Competent Leader (CL) and CTM-Bronze, CTM –Silver and the CTM - Gold designations. She has also founded two local Toastmaster chapters.
Della currently serves on the MN Chamber of Commerce Grow MN! Advisory Board, provides board retreat facilitation to chambers in southern MN, and is a frequent guest speaker to student groups and classrooms at both Winona State University and Saint Mary’s University
What’s the best part about working at the Chamber?
Making a difference for businesses and the community. I advocate for businesses in order to help create an environment where businesses succeed and jobs are created.
I love the variety that I experience every day. I have the privilege of working with people from all walks of life and business interests, from small business start-ups to companies with global markets. Each day is something new.
What can members come to you for?
I can assist businesses in a variety of way, but it all comes down to advocacy. Starting a business, growing a business, overcoming a challenge, taking on a new opportunity - I help with these and more. My favorite conversation begins with a business owner saying “I don’t think that you can help me, but…” Be assured that in my mind I am already rolling up my sleeves and preparing to respond to the need.
Favorite things to do in Winona?
What’s not to love in Winona? We live in the most beautiful part of the state! I love the fall colors, the Mississippi River, the quality of life here. My husband and I spend a lot of time on are bike trails from April through October.