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Wizard of Biz: New chamber chairwoman shares passion for Elmhurst, Emerald City

ELMHURST – In her funky, gold-studded, red shoes, the new Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes much like her favorite red-shoed heroine, there’s no place like home.

“Once I became an intern at the chamber, it just suddenly felt like home,” Julie Miller said about

The professional – dressed from head to ankle in black, white and gray – isn’t an Elmhurst-
native. She grew up in Plymouth, Ind., and moved to Springfield a few years before landing at Elmhurst College.

John Quigley, the chamber’s president and CEO, predicted Miller would find her place in town.

“There are interns that I look at and I say I wouldn’t be surprised if they plant roots here and she was one of those,” Quigley said.

Quigley first met Miller when he wrote a news release for Elmhurst College about her joining the volleyball team. In November 1999, Quigley left his communication position at the college to serve as president of the chamber. Shortly after, he offered Miller an internship.

Although she says she’s unbeatable at Wizard of Oz trivia, Miller lives her life with much more caution than the pigtailed protagonist and her assorted companions.

“I don’t do many things by the seat of my pants,” Miller said. “I evaluate the pros and cons and then make a decision.”

But three days before she graduated from Elmhurst College in 2000, Miller called the political fellowship that expected her in Springfield in just three days and told them she was staying in Elmhurst.

“That truly was on a whim,” Miller said.

She never regretted the decision, even when she found herself days away from graduation with no job, place to live or plan for that matter. Instead of panic, she felt relief.

“It felt wonderful to have this weight off my shoulders,” Miller said.

She immediately went to her internship and the Chamber to inform her boss she wasn’t moving after all. To Miller’s delight, the Chamber extended her paid internship until the beginning of the fall semester.

Before the internship ended, Miller accepted a job offer from Patrick T. Sheehan & Associates. A member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, Sheehan had worked with Miller often during her internship.

More than a decade later, Miller works as the office manger and paralegal at Patrick T. Sheehan & Associates, where she was hired the summer she refused to leave Elmhurst.

Also a member of the Elmhurst Jaycees, Miller enjoys planning the Distinguished Service Award banquet. Miller said she enjoys calling recipients who have been nominated by their peers for their service work because they’re always so surprised.

“I still talk to nearly all my recipients,” Miller said.

Miller is one of four interns to be elected to the Board of Directors, but the first to gain the chairman position. She’s also one of only eight woman to chair the board in the past 95 years.

While Quigley said Miller brings many skills to her new position, including her organization and management abilities, he believes her greatest asset is her historical perspective of the chamber.

“There’s only one other person with as much hands on experience over the past 14 years and that’s me,” Quigley said.

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