Women to Watch: Shellie Whitfield

“The number one piece of advice I would give ANY young person starting out is this: What makes you different from others is actually your superpower. Do not dilute yourself to fit in; celebrate your uniqueness. We often live in a white-bread and mayonnaise world. Embrace being pumpernickel.”

Shellie Whitfield’s journey to her current role as Executive Director of The Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce has been nontraditional to say the least. The artist from Colorado ended up in the scenic city almost on a whim and accepted her Chamber job without fully knowing what the work entailed. Today, she’s still making art while also using her creativity to ensure the Chamber meets the multi-faceted needs of Wetumpka’s business community.

A New Hometown:

A faith walk full of miracles and serendipity brought me cross country from the plains of Colorado to Wetumpka. I was searching for good schools, low crime, a community that celebrated the arts, good weather and a socioeconomically diverse and culturally inclusive place. I flew to Atlanta, rented a convertible and started driving. On the third day, as I came over the bridge into downtown Wetumpka, my heart skipped a beat. I knew I had found my home.


As an artist and art teacher, when I was asked to apply for the position of Executive Director of the Chamber, I picked up my phone and said, “SIRI, what does a Chamber of Commerce do?” What I have learned is that the Chamber does whatever the business community needs. That means that every day is delightfully different. Our mission at the Chamber is to help people connect so that they can build relationships that will help them prosper. When businesses succeed, everyone wins.

Helping Hand:

To make a difference in a community, it is important to have a seat at the table where creative people are making decisions. I enjoy sitting on the Board of Directors for Elmore County Economic Development and am the Director of Community Outreach for the Alabama Arts Alliance. I am also a member of the Economic Development Association of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. I work closely with and support our Main Street program, the Kelly Fitzpatrick Gallery, and the Downtown Artists organization.

Point of Pride:

My greatest accomplishment is having raised amazing human beings who have gone out into the world and are doing incredible things. I am also particularly proud of the work that I have been able to do with the production of “Hometown Takeover.” Being a part of the production team for a hit television show has allowed me to be part of the group that has forever changed our region for the better. Also, fun fact: My art studio is featured in Erin Napier’s new book, “Heirloom Homes.”

Looking Ahead:

Being part of the team that has helped breathe new life into Wetumpka means that many other towns are asking me to come to tell the story of Wetumpka. My role as a public speaker is growing rapidly, and I hope that it continues because teaching and helping others is very much who I am innately. As part of this “storytelling” mission, I have partnered with the Alabama Arts Alliance to create a video discussing the role of the arts in small-town revitalization.


The most rewarding part of my job is connecting people. If we put the right people in the room at the right time MAGIC HAPPENS! Helping people take what seems like a crazy idea and turn it into a reality is incredibly fulfilling.

Love List – Whitfield’s All-Time Local Faves:

MUSIC MUSE: My go-to inspirational song is “Rise Up” by Andra Day.

MAIN MOTTO: “Focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T. When a situation seems overwhelming and defeating, ask yourself what one small thing can you do today to change the direction towards your goal?”