New executive director of Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce sets goals on first day

Warm welcome makes Cantleberry feel at home in new position.

Dana Cantleberry, 55, is the new executive director at the Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce, which is located at 100 SW Aldrich Ave. The chamber is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Barbie Porter / Wadena Pioneer Journal

WADENA — Dana Cantleberry began her first day as the Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce executive director on Dec. 7. She quickly created goals to put a spotlight on the shopping, recreational opportunities and events the community offers.

“I would like to place more emphasis on promoting (events and activities),” she said. “I also want to visit with every business owner in Wadena. It might take a while, but I want to meet them all, and find ways to help them and Wadena grow.”

Another goal on Cantleberry’s radar includes increasing chamber membership. She noted if memberships increase, so do the opportunities to promote the community and its businesses.

Wadena Chamber of Commerce.jpg
The Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce is located in The Depot in Wadena's Burlington Northern Park.
Wadena Pioneer Journal file photo

Cantleberry may be familiar to many in the community. She has two active daughters at Wadena-Deer Creek High School, Ally, a senior, and Ashley, a freshman. She steered the school’s community education program and helped with communications for years, before taking a similar position at Bertha-Hewitt Public Schools. As she started her newest position with the chamber, known and new people stopped by to greet her.

“The welcoming has been almost overwhelming,” she said. “It warmed my heart to see so many people who are excited to see me in this position. People have high expectations and (I) hope to not only meet those expectations, but to surpass them.”


She quickly pointed out the job comes with contributors, including Crystal Riddle, who will assist Cantleberry with her workload.

“Crystal has really been keeping it together the last few years,” she said. “The chamber has been without a director since March 2020, but she kept it afloat and does a very good job.”

Cantleberry applied for the job because she felt it was a good way to utilize her marketing and photography skills to showcase all the community has to offer.

“That was very appealing to me,” she said, adding she earned a degree in mass communications back when Minnesota State University was still known as Moorhead State.

After collecting her diploma, Cantleberry began her career in the newspaper industry in Dickinson, N.D.

“I was drawn to the career field because I had an interest in photography and writing,” she said. “I remember, as a kid, putting together a newspaper and doing reporting. I would interview people, mostly family, and have a lot of little tapes around.”

Love called her to pick up stakes and she moved to Deer Creek, where she currently resides.

Cantleberry’s appreciation for Wadena and the surrounding communities quickly grew as she noticed how people treated one another and that they shared a hard-work mentality.


“Wadena has a small town feel, but is big enough to have the amenities of a city, including a great downtown and beautiful hospital and school,” she said. “We’re right on Highway 10 and are at a crossroads. There is a lot to offer.”

What To Read Next
Get Local