Home sweet home

LISA BECK POINTS TO a wood carving of Green Lake that is inside the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. She took over for Liane Walsh as executive director of the chamber last month. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

When Lisa Beck left the Green Lake area about 30 years ago, she never imagined that she’d return to take the reins of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce (GLACC) in the midst of a global pandemic.

Last month, Beck became the chamber’s new executive director, replacing Liane Walsh, who had been a fixture of the chamber for the last five years.

In a press release, Walsh said the decision to leave was difficult, but she was leaving the chamber in good hands with the selection of Beck.

Beck has a background in tourism marketing, having previously worked for “Discover Wisconsin,” the Wisconsin Dells and the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce.

However, she hasn’t always been a tourism and marketing wiz.

She was raised on a dairy farm halfway between Green Lake and Berlin, and attended high school in Berlin. Some of her fondest memories include participating in activities at the Green Lake County Fair, such as showing cattle and sewing for 4-H.

Beck also worked as a waitress at the Heidel House Resort & Spa from her sophomore year of high school through her second year of college.

After graduating from Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, she moved to the Portage area, where she started a family and became an event coordinator and administrative assistant for the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce.

In 2009, Beck became the executive director for the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce.

New Green Lake Area Chamber Executive Director Lisa Beck, middle, receives the Discover Wisconsin Choice Destination plaque in 2011 for her work as executive director for the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce. submitted photo

“When I walked into that chamber of commerce, the economy was tanking and the previous chamber director had done some embezzling, so I walked into a little bit of a fiasco,” she said. “I pulled it out of the red and basically made it very profitable and learned so much about economic development.”

That experience was instrumental in expanding her understanding of creating programs that can benefit chamber member businesses and build relationships.

“I think the [GLACC] board is looking forward to building relationships within the business community, and my strength in doing that came from the DeForest Windsor chamber,” Beck said.

In 2015, she left the DeForest Windsor Chamber of Commerce to work for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau, where she served as the membership and community relations manager.

Beck described her experience working in the Wisconsin Dells as an excellent educational opportunity that provided a crash course in tourism marketing.

“The Wisconsin Dells [Visitor and Convention Bureau] is very unique and somewhat unlike the typical convention and visitor bureau because they work with a lot of advertising and branding agencies to do their strategic planning,” she said. “Whether I’m in Green Lake or Wisconsin Dells, I feel like I can implement a lot of similar marketing campaigns, but on a different scale based on funding.”

In 2016, she became the partner relations director for Discover Mediaworks and “Discover Wisconsin,” the longest running tourism TV show in the United States.

That role enabled her to learn the ins and outs of destination marketing, and the impact of tourism on Wisconsin’s economy.

“It’s really an anchor of Wisconsin,” Beck said. “We need tourism in Wisconsin; it generates so much income for our local communities.”

In fact, “Discover Wisconsin” also helped her land the GLACC job.

About two years ago, Beck and Walsh worked together to try to make an episode about Green Lake, but the project fell through after the Heidel House closed.

Still, the duo stayed in contact, and when Beck heard through the grapevine that the executive director position had opened up, she reached out to Walsh and applied.

“It kind of just landed at the perfect time where I’m getting married, and I want to kind of settle down and put my feet in the ground here and get connected to the community,” Beck said.

While Beck only has been on the job for a few weeks, she’s already been thrust into a crisis management role due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking the reins during the crisis has been a bit disheartening because she’s extroverted and wants to get better acquainted with local businesses.

Even though she can’t go door to door and build relationships with local businesses, the pandemic has given her a chance to take a deep dive into bookwork and examine the chamber’s past initiatives and membership.

As executive director, Beck wants to market Green Lake, Princeton, Berlin, Ripon, Markesan and other townships in the area as a singular region.

She also hopes to promote year-round tourism between each of those communities as well.

“Green Lake is a hidden gem; it hasn’t changed much since I moved away,” Beck said. “I think the beauty of Green Lake is the natural assets around it and its charming community. I’m just so excited to really get started.”