Wilmington native Rachel Cathell is the Executive Director of the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce, where she connects, educates, and grows the economic landscape and opportunities for businesses within the 24 municipalities that make up the western region of the county.
“What I enjoy most about my job is the people,” she said. “Each day, I am fortunate to visit businesses, from small retail shops to manufacturing facilities to multi-generational agricultural enterprises. In these visits, I get to listen to the successes, obstacles, and challenges they face every day. I discover the vision they have for their business, what they want for their surrounding community, and what they need for the future of their families that are raised up from the livelihood of their local business. Then, with great pleasure, I get to roll up my sleeves and connect, build, and facilitate resources for them to grow here. Making that commitment to helping others and contributing to a community vision is a powerful motivator to me both professionally and personally.”
Cathell, who began working when she was 16 years old at Everyday Artists Studio in Hockessin, Del., earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Design, Digital Publishing from Wilmington University. She credits Donna Steltz, her former boss at the chamber, and Sonia Huntzinger of the Coatesville 2nd Century Alliance with having the biggest impacts on her career.
“Donna showed me that even if something seems like a colossal issue, it can be tackled in incremental actions and with laser focus on the people and the purpose,” said Cathell. “Also, Sonia’s tenacity and leadership have influenced me to always challenge myself and to continue to challenge the doubts of why something can’t be done.”
Cathell’s proudest professional achievement is the chamber’s Time for the Trades initiative.
“Through this program, I’m able to connect skilled-trades businesses to funding avenues, career and technical schools, and resources for them to develop and fill their own workforce pipeline,” she said. “So many great businesses in western Chester County are growing in the skilled trades and offer successful career opportunities to our rising youth. To be able to act as an advocate for the skilled trades and bridge those relationships is very important to me.”
“I like to switch it up, too!” she said. “Being in a chamber, I am the encyclopedia of go-to local businesses. I’m going to say Suburban Brewing Company (in Honey Brook) and Animated Brewing Company (in Coatesville) are the brewmasters of the West.”
Cathell and the rest of the 2023 Class of VISTA Millennial Superstars will be honored at the Awards Reception & Celebration on Thursday, May 18 at Penn State Great Valley.
Sponsors are still being sought. Click here to learn more about the various opportunities available to partner with VISTA Today as it celebrates Chester County’s next generation of leaders, or contact Steve Knickerbocker at email@example.com or 484-437-2826.