Digging In: Meet President and CEO of Truckee Chamber of Commerce Jessica Penman

Digging In: Meet President and CEO of Truckee Chamber of Commerce Jessica Penman

Association News, Featured, Member News

From archeological digs to digging into the planning of Truckee’s future, President and CEO of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, Jessica Penman, brings her unique background and passion for mountain living to the role. Read on to learn more about where she came from and where she’d like to see the community go.

CC: Can you briefly describe your personal and professional experience and how you came to the Truckee Chamber of Commerce?
JP: No one dreams of working for a Chamber of Commerce as a kid, and I am no exception. I have a Master’s Degree in Egyptian Archaeology from the University College London, and I planned to dig in the dirt as my professional career. I have done digs in Italy, Palestine, Egypt and Northern California, and I loved it. After graduating with my MA, I moved back to my hometown of Napa and worked for the Napa Valley Museum. I did many things during that time, but my main job was as the Collections Manager (artifacts, not bills). As much as I loved the work, I missed interacting with people.

An opportunity to work for the Yountville Chamber of Commerce came up, and I took it. I loved the work immediately. I felt like I was doing something to help improve my community. Then, when I had the opportunity to apply for the Truckee Chamber CEO position, I jumped at it. I had always told people I would live in Napa or Truckee, and the prospect of moving here to do something I love was very exciting. I was lucky enough to be offered the job and have been here full-time since October 2022.

Truckee Chamber CEO Jessica Penman on Northwoods Blvd

CC: What are some of the initiatives in the Strategic Plan that you are most excited about?
JP: Believe it or not, this was our first strategic plan in 120 years! I am excited about all of it, especially about creating new initiatives around Workforce Development. This year, we partnered with the Town of Truckee, Truckee Donner PUD, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Tahoe Forest Health System to bring Truckee North Tahoe Tech Teens to life. This six-week program taught high school students about all the different careers involving technology in our community. It was a great success, and we are excited to bring it back next year. We are working on additional ideas, and I look forward to sharing them with our community soon.

CC: Your family has owned in Tahoe Donner since 1997. Can you share a few of your most memorable experiences growing up and spending part of your time here?
JP: I feel so lucky that I got to spend a lot of my childhood in Tahoe Donner. I learned to ski on the ski hill when I was ten, and it started a lifelong love of skiing. I also have fond memories of all the summer camps. I did equestrian, tennis camp, sailing and any other camp that was offered. It was a great way to meet new kids up here and experience things I never would have. As a kid, I always loved the Luau at the Tahoe Donner Marina!

Jessica Penmen childhood ski photo in Tahoe Donner

Jessica Penman childhood photo at Beach Club Marina

CC: Now, as a full-time resident, what do you love most about the Truckee-Tahoe area, and more specifically, Tahoe Donner?
JP: Last summer, a group of us started a Monday night barbecue at the Tahoe Donner Marina, and those were some of my favorite nights. It was great to go down to the beach and unwind with friends, with Donner Lake as the backdrop. I also rediscovered a love of cross country skiing. I took two of the Sisters in Skate Clinics this winter. While I still love classic more, it was fun to try something new. This summer, I might see if I still know how to play tennis, and I look forward to exploring more hiking trails with my boyfriend and pup, Auggie. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, and I try to soak up as much of that as I can, no matter what season.

Truckee Chamber CEO Jessica Penman and friends at the Beach Club Marina.

CC: Do you feel the area has changed a lot, and where would you like to see its direction go in the future?
JP: Everything changes. Sometimes people forget that, but I don’t necessarily see change as a bad thing. My job is to ensure that our community is thriving in our current landscape while preparing for the future. Rather than looking backward, I prefer to talk about how we can ensure that we are doing our best with where we are now. As a community, we can embrace tourism while balancing it with appropriate land use and access. I would also love to see us move the needle on housing to allow our workforce to live here and not commute from Reno.

CC: Conversely, what would you like to see stay the same or preserved?
JP: Truckee has its own unique character and charm that we are working to preserve as we move forward. In a survey done by Visit Truckee-Tahoe last year, one of the top assets of our community was Donner Lake. I’d love for us to step up and really take care of it. I feel so privileged to live and work here; I’m doing my best to plan for our future while preserving what makes us special.