I like to think I know everybody.

Now, I realize with how Culpeper is growing that is nearly impossible – but I like to try.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with my name or my work – allow me to introduce myself.

I’m Jeff Say, the new President/CEO of the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce. I’ve lived in Culpeper for 15 years. My wife Sarah, a kindergarten teacher at Emerald Hill Elementary School, has lived in the community for 17 years. We have three daughters – Mady and Maura were born at Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center and Maci was born at Fauquier Hospital.

For 20 years I’ve worked in the newspaper industry with the last 15 spent here in Culpeper. I moved up the ranks at the Culpeper Star-Exponent before leaving as Community Editor in 2015. I worked as a graphic designer at the Culpeper Times for two years before moving back into a leadership position as Editor from May 2017 until last month.

For those last 15 years, I’ve told the stories of our neighbors, dealt with the issues Culpeper has faced and have shared success stories and grieved with our community over sad moments.

Yet, a question that I’m frequently asked since starting my new position on Feb. 17 is, “what does a journalist know about running a chamber?”

It’s a valid question and one that I’m eager to answer.

For me, it’s all about connections. How do we help our business community connect to our residents? How do we help our businesses interact with each other? How do we help our nonprofits find the volunteers they need and how do we make a positive impact on Culpeper?

These are all key ingredients for making a thriving Chamber of Commerce. Thankfully, I’ve made numerous connections over the years and have tied myself into the community to know what is happening and how we as a Chamber can help.

I’m lucky to step into an organization that has strong leadership in our Board of Directors and a helpful staff – hopefully you’ve all had a chance to meet our events coordinator Amy Frazier.

My goal is to promote Culpeper and to help local businesses thrive in our community. It’s a symbiotic relationship – if businesses thrive then the community thrives.

This is an exciting year for the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce and Career Partners Inc. CulpeperFest is celebrating its 40th anniversary and we hope everyone turns out on June 12 to help celebrate and meet our local business partners. Career Partners Inc. is celebrating its 20th anniversary in helping prepare students for the workforce and encourage entrepreneurial enterprise with the E-Squared program. We hope the community helps continue to support this endeavor, especially as Culpeper County Public Schools prepares to open its new Career and Technical Education School.

If you have questions or just want to say hi back, please reach out to me at president@culpeperchamber.com or call 540-825-8628. I love hearing from our businesses and our public and I look forward to working with you all.

We must all work together to make Culpeper an even better place to live, and I look forward to helping cultivate this wonderful, caring community we already have here.