November 3, 2023

Maine State Chamber honors Mullins as ‘Professional of the Year’

By Ed Pierce

As the president and chief executive officer of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Robin Mullins believes passionately in what she does and never knowingly compromises her standards and values. Her determination to constantly strive for excellence has resulted in Mullins being honored as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 “Dana F. Connors Chamber Professional of the Year.”

Robin Mullins, President and CEO of the
Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of
Commerce, has been honored with the
Maine State Chamber of Commerce's
2023 'Dana F. Connors Chamber
Professional of the Year' award.
The award is named in honor of Dana Connors, who is retiring this year after leading the Maine State Chamber of Commerce since 1994. It was created to recognize chamber professionals who exhibit exceptional service and have made a lasting impact upon their community.

Mullins was supposed to receive the award at the annual Maine State Chamber banquet in Portland on Oct. 26 but that event was postponed because of the tragedy in Lewiston and has yet to be rescheduled.

She grew up in Windham, graduating from Windham High School in 1986. Although she has a degree in Elementary Education, Mullins spent most of her career working for Hannaford Supermarkets, in both retail and corporate environments.

“I was blessed with 22 years at Hannaford. The company paid for me to get my master’s degree in training and development and gave me experience in every aspect of human resources management,” she said. “After leaving Hannaford to have more time with my family, I became the part-time HR Director for my brother Rob York's business, Octagon Cleaning & Restoration. She later joined the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as its part-time office manager and in 2019 she assumed the full-time role as SLRCC’s President/CEO.

The chamber leadership job is non-stop and highly demanding, yet Mullins makes it look easy.

“The most difficult aspect of my job is not overcommitting myself. This position can easily turn into a 24/7 job,” Mullins said. “I work days, nights and weekends. I am responsible for every aspect of the chamber from membership to marketing and event planning to strategic planning. I am often attending meetings, conferences, and seminars, and often asked to participate on committees, boards, and community events. Of course, the cell phone with instant access to texts and emails certainly doesn't help. I have had to learn not to overcommit myself, say no when needed and establish boundaries to ensure I do not get burned out.”

Her first thought when she was told that she was being honored with this award was how wonderful it was to just be recognized.

“We are not a large chamber. We do not have a lot of ‘big’ business in our region. We are mostly small, locally owned businesses,” she said. “We do not have a significant budget where we can have extravagant events, and we are not typically the chamber you see being interviewed on the news. Yet here we are being recognized by the Maine State Chamber. We are clearly making an impact and must be doing some pretty cool things in our small, beautiful part of the state to be recognized, and that means the world to me.”

According to Mullins, she thinks she was chosen for this award not only because of the work she has done here in the region, but also for the partnerships she has forged at the state level.

“In 2020, I partnered with the state's Department of Economic and Community Development team to ensure our two biggest events didn't get cancelled due to the pandemic,” she said. “I am also an active board member for both the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Maine State Chamber. I have worked hard to keep the SLRCC in the know and relevant in what is going on at the state level. I am extremely honored to receive this award as I consider Dana Connors to be a good friend and mentor. He was the President and CEO of the Maine State Chamber for 30 years. He is an amazing human being and leader, and to receive this award in his name is one of the greatest achievements of my life.”

Her family, including husband John, and daughters, Cassidy and Ainsely, are happy and proud to see Robin receive this award.

“My family is very happy for me. No one knows the blood, sweat and tears, yes, sometimes there are tears, I put into this position, like they do,” Mullins said. “They were looking forward to celebrating at the Maine State Chamber's Annual meeting with me. The event, rightfully so, was canceled last week, so my family took me to Franco's Bistro instead where they showered me with love, flowers, and Frank's Maine Shellfish Estiva and Italian Lemon Cake. So good.”

Of her work at the chamber, Mullins says that she’s learned one thing above all else.

“I have learned how much relationships mean and how the relationships I formed in the past continue to benefit me today,” she said. “I have always told my girls to be nice to everyone and to never burn bridges. You never know when someone will come back into your life and how you might need them (or they you). So many of the people I knew from college, Hannaford and other roles in my life have proven to be extremely valuable in this position. I continue to forge new relationships and look forward to how those will also prove valuable to me and the chamber some day in the future.” <

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