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StrongLand Chamber of Commerce names first new president in 21 years

Charmin Worthington in January 2013 was appointed the new StrongLand Chamber of Commerce president and chief financial officer. Submitted

About the chamber

The StrongLand Chamber of Commerce formed in 1985 when chambers from Apollo, Leechburg, Lower Burrell and Vandergrift merged. Susan Maine was the chamber's first director until Walzak took over in 1992. Worthington will be the chamber's third president. The chamber is based in the Parks Bend Farms industrial park off Route 66 in Parks.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

The StrongLand Chamber of Commerce has a new public face for the first time in more than two decades.

The board has appointed Charmin Worthington, 45, of Kiski Township as the chamber's new president and chief financial officer.

She will replace Allan Walzak, who has led the chamber for 21 years.

“I want to promote our community and help our area become more of what it could be,” Worthington said on Monday. “I have a vested interest as a lifelong resident.”

Worthington grew up in Arnold and was a 1985 graduate of Valley High School. For 20 years, she's lived in Springdale.

Worthington said she has 24 years of experience in accounting, office management, finance and project development and coordination.

For the last 12 years she has worked for Trek Development Group, a Pittsburgh-based real estate development firm whose properties include the Dalton's Edge residences in Tarentum.

But after moving to Kiski Township about two years ago with her new husband, Darren Papaila, and stepson, she began looking for a change in commute and lifestyle.

Although she's never worked for a chamber of commerce before, Worthington said she's anticipating the new challenge.

“This is the right arena to promote small businesses, and the area in general,” Worthington said. “It seemed like it was a right time.”

Worthington said she will be reaching out to local businesses, community leaders and residents to see how she can help market the region.

Worthington has already begun working at StrongLand so she can overlap with Walzak, who will retire on March 1.

“I have the most gracious teacher in Allan,” Worthington said.

Worthington is jumping in at one of StrongLand's busiest times: the annual home show, the HomeXpo, kicks off Feb. 8 at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer.

“It's time for some fresh, young ideas,” said Walzak, 66, of East Brady.

Walzak said the chamber uses a variety of events to promote the Alle-Kiski Valley, from the home show, which began 11 years ago, to recreational activities like the Tour de StrongLand bike race.

Walzak said he's especially tried to emphasize the Valley's waterways as a great opportunity for recreation and development.

“I've enjoyed every day I worked here,” Walzak said, who worked in marketing for the Girl Scouts before coming on board with StrongLand in 1992. “Every day has been like a brand new experience. I think Charmin will appreciate that, too.”

Worthington said the chamber's two other employees and 350-some members already are making her feel welcome.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or



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