Quincy Hentzel leads the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce in supporting the area’s success.
Cranes extend above a latticework landscape of steel beams, piecing together the buildings of tomorrow. Cruise ships the size of a city block loom over the waterfront. Cars filled with commuters stream in from the suburbs, and Old Port sidewalks bustle with visitors. “Change is here, and there’s more change coming,” says Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. “I’m constantly in a place where I’m learning something new.” Raised outside of Chicago, Hentzel came to Maine in 2003. Soon after arriving, the newly minted attorney took a temporary job at a law firm in Portland, where she was asked if she would be interested in lobbying. “The first thing I said was, ‘Yes,’” says Hentzel. “The second thing I said was, ‘What’s lobbying?’”
Hentzel began learning the ins and outs of government relations. As director of governmental affairs for the Maine Credit Union League, she split her time between Portland, Augusta, and Washington, D.C., working with lawmakers to create a favorable legislative environment for that industry. “I fell in love with the credit union movement, and the people,” says Hentzel. “I stayed in that job a lot longer than I ever thought that I would. I blinked my eyes and all of a sudden, 11 years had passed.”
During much of this time Hentzel served on the board of the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. With more than 1,300 member businesses, the regional chamber serves the communities of South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Cumberland, Scarborough, Portland, Westbrook, and Gorham. Hentzel became the interim CEO of the regional chamber when that position became available a year ago. In July 2017, she was offered the permanent position. She is the first female CEO in the regional chamber’s 160- year history.
No two days are alike at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hentzel says. Tasked with improving business sustainability, the organization offers educational outreach programs like a monthly Eggs and Issues forum, and coordinates efforts with stakeholders like citizens and local officials. “Every day, I’m tackling a new issue,” says Hentzel. “When part of your mission is to promote regional prosperity, that encompasses a lot of things. I get the opportunity to talk about and to be engaged in a lot of the critical and really important conversations that are taking place.”
Some of the chamber’s most pressing issues are those that reflect the problems of society at large. In 2015, Portland Chief of Police Michael Sauschuck and addiction expert Dr. Steven Kassels spoke about the opioid crisis at Eggs and Issues. “It’s really heartbreaking,” says Hentzel. “You can see the impact that it has on businesses, whether it’s a business that happens to be in the area of town where there’s a lot of [drug-related] activity, or whether it’s a business that has employees or staff—or their families— that are struggling with an opioid addiction.”
Portland’s recent surge in economic development has also become a topic for the chamber to tackle. “We want to see a robust economy: we want more businesses for our businesses here to serve and more consumers for our businesses to serve as well,” says Hentzel. “But there are people who are seeing that growth and getting really scared. They don’t know what this growth is going to mean for them. We’re trying to help have a community- wide conversation.”
Hentzel first developed an interest in public policy and current events while in high school. Despite this, she never envisioned her future career path. Named after her father’s hometown of Quincy, Illinois—a town on the Mississippi River on the Illinois/Missouri border—Hentzel believed she was meant to follow in her father’s footsteps. He spent his career working as a corporate attorney for U.S. Steel in Chicago. “I idolized my dad. I wanted to be like him,” says Hentzel. “I had the mindset as a little kid that I was going to go to law school.” She graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana with a bachelor of arts in economics and a juris doctor. “I’ve never really practiced law, so I guess that goes to the point that maybe it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” says Hentzel. “But it was the path that led me to where I am today.” Hentzel’s mother and younger brother live outside of Chicago. “My mom has had a lasting impression on me as well,” says Hentzel. “She has taught me the importance of character and kindness and grace.”
Hentzel has served on the boards of several local charitable organizations, including Rippleffect, Community Financial Literacy, and cPort Credit Union. She spent many years on the board for the Center for Grieving Children, and now participates in their board development committee. “This is a particular passion of mine, having lost my father in my 20s,” she says. She is also part of the Maine Community Foundation’s Cumberland County Fund committee.
When Hentzel is not working, she likes to travel to locations both near and far. “There are very few places I’m not interested in visiting. You learn so much,” says Hentzel. “You also build an even deeper appreciation for where you live. It’s nice to go away. It’s nice to come home.” Hentzel lives with her husband and three teenage stepchildren in Cape Elizabeth. In the summer, she occasionally commutes to work from their cottage on Long Island—and enjoys Casco Bay whenever possible. “We love to be on the water,” she says.
Having come to Maine with the idea that her stay might be temporary, Hentzel is happy with her 15-year investment in the community. “I love the city of Portland. I love the state of Maine, and have made this my home,” she says. “I go home most days, and say, ‘Wow, I have a pretty amazing job.’ It’s very cool to have a role where my primary goal is to help build and support a vibrant Portland and a vibrant Portland region.”