Lindsay Peyton
Lynn Dennis draws from a wide range of experiences and a broad base of business knowledge in her role as CEO of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Lynn Dennis guides the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce full steam ahead

By Lindsay Peyton

Lynn Dennis knows how business works – on all levels, in companies big and small.

She understands the mechanics of running a small family business, because she worked alongside her parents, sister and husband at KMD, Inc. for 15 years. She has also worked in large corporations, like Harbor Properties, which developed major real estate in the city.

Dennis’ background prepared her for her current post as CEO of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, where she has gained a reputation as a passionate leader.

“She exemplifies women in leadership; she’s the whole package,” Patricia Throop, vice chair of the Chamber’s board and founder of Eldercare Consulting, said.

Throop said Dennis has pushed the organization ahead. “We’ve been so lucky to get Lynn on the Chamber,” Throop said. “She really took the bull by the horns. She’s been so phenomenal at getting the board organized and helping define our vision.”

Throop said Dennis is a well-known figure in West Seattle.

“Her skill is being able to say, ‘I hear your needs and here are solutions and people who can help you,’” Throop said. “She gets to know you so she can be more resourceful. She’s a kind, warm, sensitive person – who also knows how to get the job done.”

Chamber chair Paul Prentice said the group is glad to have Dennis on board. “We made the best choice we could,” he said. “She’s been on top of the inner workings of the Chamber. She has a great organizational mind, and she’s a great administrator.”

Originally from South Carolina, Dennis grew up in small town with a large family. “I had the most unbelievable support system,” she said.

Dennis moved with her parents to Atlanta at age 16. She explained that the high school she attended there ranked in the top four for scholastics in the nation, while the school she left behind ranked in the bottom four.

“I was tutored before, after and during school,” she said. “I’m not one of those people that things come to easy. I had to work hard.”

Learning the value of hard work at a young age, however, paid off for Dennis.

She took her first internship at a law firm in downtown Atlanta while still in high school. All of the other interns were college students. The next summer, she took a job at a family law firm.

Then Dennis attended Clemson University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Her next job was at an advertising firm in Atlanta – and she enjoyed diving into her clients’ companies to learn about their industrites and better understand their markets.

“Then my parents called me,” she said.

They had moved to Seattle to start a transportation and distribution company – and asked Dennis to come on board with the new family business.

“They started with two trucks,” Dennis said.

The family grew the business to a full fleet – with offices in three cities. Dennis also met her now husband Jerry on the job.

Next, Dennis was hired at Manage, Inc to help clients with databases, hardware installations and software development and training. She stayed there for three years until transitioning to the staff of one of the company’s clients, Harbor Properties.

The real estate development and management firm needed technical assistance and Dennis was up for the challenge.

She streamlined operations by implementing a whole new software and hardware system to operate both the commercial and residential sides of the business. She later worked as for the company as director of strategic planning and training.

“I was able to work with people at the top of the industry,” she said. “I’ve been blessed to work with the best of the best.”

At this post, she helped bring Mural and LINK Apartments to West Seattle.

“I walked up and down California Ave, from Morgan to Alki,” she said. “I asked everyone, ‘What commercial spaces need to be here? What businesses do you want to have in the neighborhood?’”

When Harbor Properties closed in 2012, Dennis responded to a request from a friend, asking her to help the West Seattle Chamber with some organization.

The temporary assignment turned into a full time job when she was hired as CEO two years later.

“I have always been the person behind the person, making them look good,” Dennis said. “That was my niche. And in a sense, that’s what I’m still doing today.”

She simply wants to support the board of directors and build a thriving business community in West Seattle, she explained.

“It’s all about how we make this a better place,” she said.

Dennis believes the key to success is being a good listener. “What I do here is listen and connect,” she said.

She is also a leader for Weight Watchers – and enjoys helping members become healthier and more confident.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on our weaknesses in life,” she said. “When I realized you could take a person’s strengths and expand on that, it’s the difference between day and night.”

With Weight Watchers and the Chamber, Dennis said her goal is to help individuals succeed and thrive.

“I love the people,” she said. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for any of them.”

For more information about the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, visit www.wschamber.com.

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