Questions with Sarah Newcomb
By Laura J. Cummings
In seeking a first, full-time executive director, the Estero Chamber of Commerce’s Search Team was looking for a strong leader and communicator with a solid background in business and an understanding of Southwest Florida’s economy and culture. They were surprised to find all of that in a 29-year-old, recent graduate of Florida Southwestern State College. Sarah Newcomb is often described as “wise beyond her years.”
While in college, she worked as a business development specialist with the Lee County Economic Development office, then accepted a position at Amazon, which included three months of intense leadership training. For the past year, she has served as the Director of College and Career Initiatives with The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.
A personality assessment identified her top traits as being an influencer and a problem solver.
“Almost immediately in interacting with her, it’s easy to see that she is a strong leader,” says Search Team Chair Nolen Rollins. “We envision Estero becoming the most desired city in Florida for overall quality of life, for economic development, for new businesses and for sustaining growing businesses. We are excited and fully confident Sarah Newcomb will lead the Estero Chamber to see the fulfillment of this vision.”
1. Where did you grow up, and how did you get to Southwest Florida?
I was born and raised in a small town in Maryland. In April of 2011, a friend approached me about moving to Florida for a short time to care for her mother who was battling cancer. That was, by far, the best decision of my life. So many great things have come from such a huge leap of faith, and I am so thankful.
2. At just under 30, how do you get businesspeople to take you seriously?
I do not believe age should be a factor. We all have different experiences through life which shape us. I started working at the age of 13 in a deli making $5.15 an hour and working 60 hours a week during the summer. I did not grow up rich, and I have not always made the best decisions. But, those decisions have taught me lessons and motivated me to work my hardest everyday, cherish every moment, and appreciate the relationships I form. I love the business community, and it is my passion to see people grow and succeed in doing what they love.
3. What is your vision for the Estero Chamber of Commerce in the coming year?
My main goals for the coming year are to establish relationships and to get the organization in order from a structure standpoint. Building relationships is important to me, and very important in building a strong chamber.
4. What are your favorite SWFL hangouts?
I try to find the quiet spot on the beach and love to watch the sunset. I am also a huge supporter of small, locally owned businesses. So, you can find me at the “hole in the wall” restaurants and craft breweries. I’m always asking their stories because I find the story of a startup so interesting.
5. What are your personal hobbies and interests?
I love photography. I started taking classes in high school, and yes, it was film back then. I also ride a motorcycle and love to just wake up on a Saturday morning and ride up the coast.
6. Do you have a life motto?
“Nobody’s going to die.” Too often, we get so worked up over things that we cannot control. Instead of getting mad or stressed, we just need to take a deep breath and let it go. Trust God and have faith. Things will always happen as they are supposed to, so why waste time stressing?
7. What is your personal definition of success?
I define success as reaching a goal. We constantly set goals, and as we accomplish them, that is a success. It’s up to you on how successful you want to be. If you’re like me, you can never stop setting goals and reaching higher.