Helping people makes Jennifer Chittenden smile, which is nice. She said she gets to go home with a smile every day. 

Chittenden is the executive director of the Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce, where she finds joy in helping members connect and grow their skills.

“My passion is always helping other people achieve and grow and develop,” she said. “That’s just always been the quality I’ve had throughout life. You just always put others before yourself.” 

That attitude was fostered while growing up on a farm in northwest Iowa, where everyone would pitch in to do the chores together in order to get the job done. 

She’s had the opportunity to do that with her role in the downtown chamber while also working working part-time as executive director for the Des Moines West Side Chamber of Commerce for two years.

As a client relations coordinator at Tero International Inc., Chittenden was part of the inaugural West Des Moines Leadership Academy class in 2008-09. That’s where she not only gained a better understanding of how to get involved in the community, but actually developed a passion for it. That eventually led her to the chamber.

Although her job is based on helping others,  she looks for ways to contribute to the community organizations she is passionate about. A musician, Chittenden sits on the Civic Music Association board. She doesn’t have much of a green thumb – Chittenden’s son calls her the “grim reaper of plants” – but she serves on the Friends of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden board, where she is learning how big projects come together.

Reasons she’s a Forty:

• For two years, she was the executive director of both the Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce and the Des Moines West Side Chamber of Commerce.

• She graduated from the inaugural West Des Moines Leadership Institute Class.

• “She is the type of individual who I would want to work with on a daily basis because of her passion, determination and collaborative spirit,” writes Tamara Kenworthy, president of On-Point Strategies. 

• As a volunteer, Chittenden started a public relations committee and created a five-year strategic plan for Central Iowa Shelter & Services. 

• She works with more than 180 businesses in her role as executive director of the downtown chamber.