Faces in the Crowd: Liz Crafton

December 20, 2018

by Gene Bodnar
Correspondent

I heard that Liz Crafton is an active community member and an avid supporter of Chambers of Commerce, so I decided that she would be an ideal candidate to interview for this article. I contacted her on Facebook, and she agreed to an interview, which we scheduled for the next day at the Pere Marquette District Library.

Liz Crafton

Liz Crafton

Liz was born in Royal Oak, Michigan in 1985.  Her family soon moved to Mayville, Michigan, where Liz attended the Mayville Community School from kindergarten through fourth grade.  From the fifth grade through high school she was home-schooled, graduating in 2003.

After graduation, she attended Davenport University, where she acquired a bachelor’s degree in 2008 in Business Management & Entrepreneurship.  This degree provided her with the skills necessary to establish and operate an entrepreneurial enterprise through the successful management of planning, marketing, financial management, and integrated business operations.   While attending the school, she also worked in the Mayville Library for a time, then for two years as a receptionist under their work study program, where she was paid wages by the college through a grant.  Her duties included answering multi-lined phone systems, copying and typing documents, scheduling appointments for 15 university advisors, handling bank deposits, and delivering mail.

While working, she attended Colorado Technical University, an on-line school, where she obtained a master’s degree in Marketing.  In addition, Liz was the Manager of a coffee shop and cyber café in Caro, Michigan.  She admits that she is a zealous lover of coffee. Here, Liz was responsible for hiring and training employees, providing customer service, ordering supplies, and completing company bookwork using Quickbooks software.  She held this position for a little over two years.
For 8 months in 2008, Liz worked for the Caro Chamber of Commerce as an Administrative Assistant.  In this position, she assisted the Executive Director of the chamber as well as being the Office Manager.  In addition, she assisted the Director of the Tuscola Economic Development Commission.  She also aided in community event planning and acted as facilitator between the Caro Chamber, downtown businesses and local non-profits.

For the next eight years starting in September of 2010, Liz was the Executive Director of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)(6) organization.  In this capacity, she performed a multitude of duties that are vital to keeping a business community running smoothly, including recruiting and retaining members, advertising, marketing, financial planning, budgeting, community and public relations, event management, office management, and volunteer leadership.

In layman’s terms, a 501(c)(6) organization is one that is granted tax-exempt status by the IRS provided that it is not created as a for-profit business.  Earnings for such an organization do not benefit a private shareholder or individual.

Liz was obviously quite successful at her job with the chamber.  As she expressed it, she is “extremely passionate” about the community, always contributing to its needs whenever possible.

Since September of this year, Liz has worked as the Marketing Manager for Brainshowers Design, a business based in Higgins Lake, owned by Theresa Grzecki and Jim Kaczarowski.  In this job, she is responsible for generating project leads and selling advertising spots on menus for restaurants, and on folders for real estate agents, schools, and chambers of commerce.  She also creates marketing materials for small business owners and entrepreneurs that fit their advertising needs.  The company operates on a state-wide basis and part of Ohio.  Recently, she generated four new accounts, including the White House Restaurant in Clare, which includes their “to go” menu as well as their inside menu.

Liz also informed me that she makes steampunk jewelry, and she sells it on her own Facebook page and on Etsy.  Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.  She showed me several examples pictured on her cell phone.  The jewelry consists mainly of items such as small gears and keys.  One item consisted of a metallic heart with a small key  superimposed on top of it.  Another consisted of several gears and other metal parts formed quite artistically.  She also showed me a beautiful pearl necklace.

Liz also devotes much time to her 4-year-old daughter, Isabelle, who is currently attending pre-school in Harrison.

Liz participates in many community activities, many of which are volunteer-oriented.  Even as a teenager, she painted the “Welcome to Mayville” sign that greets people entering the city.  She loves art in all of its forms, and she herself loves to draw and paint.  Some of her work has been featured in libraries.  She also helps in getting local community gardens started.  Roadside cleanup is another event she participates in; Harrison folks are responsible for cleanup on US-10 from exits 168-170.

She is an active member of the Harrison Lioness Club as well as the Clare County Arts Council.  In fact, she sold her steampunk jewelry at the Dec. 8th craft show sponsored by the Arts Council.  Liz is also a member of 20 Lakes Antique Engine & Tractor Club.  Finally, she is a founding member of the new Harrison Rotary Club.

I asked Liz what she liked to do for entertainment.  She responded that she is an avid reader, habitually reading anything in print, but she especially enjoys westerns and science fiction.

One vacation that was particularly enjoyable to her was sponsored by Davenport University back in 2006 as an international business study event.  It included a tour of Germany, Austria, Holland, and other surrounding countries.  In order to converse with the people abroad, she took a 6-week course on speaking German.  Unfortunately, she remembers very little from that class, but she does remember a vital phrase:  “Wo ist die Toilette?” – “Where’s the toilette?”

Liz Crafton, even though she’s only 33 years old, has devoted most of her adult life to community service.  From being a volunteer in many community activities to being the Executive Director of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce, she has been “extremely passionate” about the health and welfare of the community as a whole. Looking to the future, Liz is taking active steps to unite the County and boost community collaboration while supporting the Shop Local program.

Just before submitting this article for publication, I learned that Liz won the election as a write-in candidate for the office of President of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce.  Congratulations are in order.  She is obviously highly motivated to help small businesses and will undoubtedly be a shining light to the community as a whole.

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