Tara Janszen

In a unanimous vote on Wednesday evening, the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce executive board chose Tara Janszen as the next leader for the chamber.

From a large list of candidates, three finalists were narrowed down. 

“When discussing the three finalists, we looked at who’s really got a genuine interest in the community and a love for Cleburne,” board member Junes Bates said. “It was evident to everyone that was Tara.”

Janszen, who has served as the chamber’s executive vice president since July 2013, fills the vacant position left by Cathy Marchel, who passed away in January after a two-year battle with cancer.

“I’m grateful for the years that I had the opportunity to learn from her and work for her,” Janszen said. “The foundation that she laid and [former President] Nell Dixon laid for this chamber to be what is today is incredible. Their service to the community is what has made this chamber successful. I hope to continue that and do my part to serve the community.”

Janszen said her main goals in her new role include continuing to evaluate the membership and provide value to members while continuing to grow.

“I want to evaluate our events and see what we can do better and look at bringing in some new events to our community,” she said.

A 2003 Cleburne High School graduate, Janszen graduated from The University of Texas in 2007. 

“We are extremely excited for Tara to have been named as the new president of the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce,” board member Jason Cech said. “We had some excellent candidates, but ultimately, the board felt she was the best fit for the position. 

“I know that Cathy Marchel is smiling down, and we can’t wait to see all the great things that Tara is going to do with the chamber.”

Janszen and her husband, Tully, who married in 2011,  have three girls — ages 7, 5 and 1.

“I feel like the thing that makes Cleburne most unique is the people here,” she said. “People care about family and each other and helping one another. That’s what I like most about this community.”

While the past few months have been challenging because of the pandemic, Janszen said they look forward to the future.

“It was hard planning events and not being able to do in-person networking events, our annual events and our luncheons,” she said. “Trying to figure out how to still provide opportunities for members to connect and promote their business was hard. 

“It’s created a unique opportunity for us to explore some of those digital marketing and advertising opportunities that rolled out. 

“We were involved with the city in All Aboard Cleburne promotional program and several businesses promoted their business through our digital advertising opportunities, which was a fun partnership. 

“It was challenging, trying to keep up and still be an asset and a resource to the businesses when they needed us and provide information when it was changing so quickly.”

Upcoming chamber events

The next event on the chamber’s docket is the Fourth of July celebration.

“With the change to The Depot it’s a little bit different this year but we’re still trying to create a fun event that is safe for people to attend,” Janszen said.

More than 1,200 socially distanced parking spaces will be available at the stadium on a first come, first served basis (weather permitted), with the parking lot opening at 6:30 p.m. July 4. 

Pre-show entertainment will be provided by the Plaza Theatre Co. and the Cleburne Railroaders.  Fireworks will commence after dark (about 9:30 p.m.)

After that, the chamber, in conjunction with Plaza Theatre Co., will host Shakespeare in the Park in August.

“Twelfth Night” debuts Aug. 7-8 at Winston Patrick McGregor Park, 1628 W. Henderson St. 

Tickets cost $10 for adults in advance or $15 at the gate and $5 for children or students. To purchase advance tickets, call 817-202-0600 or visit CleburneShakes.org.

Parking is free and the park opens at 6:30 p.m. each night. 

Parking is available in the Wal-Mart parking lot across the street from the park and crossing guards will help patrons cross the street. Bring lawn chairs and coolers. Food vendors will be available on site.

Business Expo is the chamber’s next big event.

“We’ll start looking at how to best do that and if we’ll have restrictions that we’ll need to look at,” Janszen said. “We’re actually going to change that to be called the Cleburne CommunityShowcase and be shifting it to feature businesses, but also organizations and all different kinds of opportunities for people to get involved.”

The chamber is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 1511 W. Henderson St. For information, visit cleburnechamber.com or call 817-645-2455.

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