Carlene Roche: Planning passion now includes Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce

MILLSBORO — One of Carlene Roche’s genuine passions in life is planning.

“I love to plan things,” she says.

The Connecticut native is now engulfed in planning, having recently made the transition from a lengthy career in the medical field to her role as Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations. She joined the chamber before the holidays.

Connecticut native Carlene Roche is the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Operations.

“The interest for me is that I am an event planner in my soul,” said Ms. Roche. “I have started charitable organizations in Connecticut. I have run many charitable events from a tulip tour of homes in Connecticut to … I was one of the original founders of the Southern Delaware Wine, Food and Music Festival. I helped run that for the first two years. I just love to do events and event planning.”

“The chamber position affords me that opportunity,” said Ms. Roche. “There is an event going on every month. We have the Easter Egg Hunt. We have the Bridal Show in October. And, of course, Stars & Stripes, which is our big event for the year.”

The chamber is also in the “contemplating stages” of establishing a beer/food truck kind of festival.

“There are so many great breweries around here,” said Ms. Roche. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase what they are doing, get on board with this whole food truck craze that is going on — and do something fun and different.”

Ms. Roche spent her childhood and most of adulthood in Connecticut, including Seymour, Brantford and Newtown, which was the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in December 2012.

She made the move from Connecticut when husband Ed’s work brought him to Delmarva.

“In 2011 my husband took a job with Perdue Agri-business. So, he moved down here first and then I followed after we sold our house in Connecticut,” said Ms. Roche. “I came to work part-time with a medical device company and more than anything kind of got sick of the travel, the miles that I was putting on my car. So, I started to look around for something more local and more exciting than getting in my car and being by myself all day.”

Opportunity knocked in the form of an employment opening from chamber president Kevin Turner. She answered.

“I found out about the job being available through the Rotary Club. The Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary Club is a member of the Millsboro chamber and Kevin sent out an announcement that they were looking for someone to fill this position,” said Ms. Roche. “So, I applied.”

Ms. Roche and her husband reside in The Independence development in the Millsboro area. They have three grown children: sons Chris, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area and Scott, who lives in Westchester County near New York City; and daughter Kathryn, who lives in the D.C. area.

Son Chris’s wife is Maggie O’Neal. “She is a local girl, grew up in Silver Springs, spent summers in Bethany Beach. She is very well-known in Washington, D.C., as an artist. She has been on the cover of a bunch of magazines,” said Ms. Roche. “Most recently her artwork has been chosen to represent the Cherry Blossom Festival. That is the first time in the history of the Cherry Blossom Festival that a local artist’s work has been used.”

Ms. Roche graduated from Western Connecticut State University a degree in health education.

This week’s People to Meet: Carlene Roche.

Prior work history?

“With the exception of about 10 years, I have spent the last 30 year selling medical devices and physical therapy services, treating work injured patients, in physical therapy programs. Mostly, I have been in the medical field for the last 30 years.

“I was in real estate for about 8 to 10 years during that whole medical device. I got in when the getting was good, and I got out when the getting was good.”

Growing up, what did you aspire to be as an adult?

“A nurse. I did want to be a nurse. And then I got to college and decided it definitely was not for me. I enjoyed the education part of it more than anything.”

Community involvement?

“I have been a member of the Rotary Club in Connecticut and here since 1994. I was a president in both my Rotary in Connecticut and here with Georgetown/Millsboro. I am currently the district trainer for Rotary District 7630 and I am the conference chair for our district for this year also. It encompasses Eastern Shore of Maryland and all of Delaware.”

The public spotlight?

“You can put me in front of a room and ask me to educate a group about something and that is what I love. When I was doing real estate, I couldn’t wait for that new home buyer who didn’t know anything about housed-buying because the information that I could provide for them was just immeasurable.”

What’s up at the chamber?

“We’ve added a new job postings page to our Millsboro chamber website. So, the companies that are here have first access, not through LinkedIn, TheLadders or — but a local access to job postings.

“I love social media, so I have been updating the Facebook page.

“I am excited to be here. It’s a fun job.”

Millsboro’s economic and residential growth?

“The fastest-growing town in inland Sussex County for five years. We want to work with any new business that is coming to town. But mostly what we want to do is give them some added value. One of the things that we are changing about chamber membership benefits is that if they make a referral to us for a new member — if they meet the owner of the new business next door and tell them what great things are going on at the chamber — then we’ll give them a rebate on part of their dues for the following year.”

Leisure and fun?

“For vacation, my happy place is Cancun. I lived in Mexico for about a year when I was a teenager. I went down after high school and was supposed to be studying but mostly ran amok all over Mexico. I worked a little bit. I did go to school for a little bit because I didn’t really know any Spanish when I got there. Then I just traveled.  I lived in Cancun when there were five hotels, not 500. I try to go back whenever I can. We try to go to Cancun at least once a year. This year we had a great opportunity; we went to Australia for three weeks.

“We love to travel. That is probably the thing that we love to do the most. In our free time we love trying out new wines and new restaurants. And, of course, there is an abundance of places for us to go to here in Delaware. I love to hang out at our pool at Independence. And lots of social events, whether it is Friday night at the clubhouse at Indy (Independence) or dinner with neighbors at a restaurant, we try to get about and about.”

Are you a UConn Lady Huskies hoops fan?

“I don’t follow them as much as I used to. When I was there you would follow them because if you went into a bar or a restaurant for dinner it would be on the TV. So, you were almost force-fed UConn women’s basketball. Here, my most disappointing thing is that it is very difficult to get Red Sox baseball. I am a huge Red Sox fan. I have been for years! My husband is a Yankee fan. We don’t really talk between May and October. I do try to go to a Red Sox game or two every year. I got to sit on Green Monster for my 50th birthday. That was fun.”

Any Fun Facts?

“I grew up in the rodeo. My dad was a team roper in the rodeo. We roped the eastern circuit which is basically from New York down to Virginia. I’ve been on a horse. I can use a lasso.

“And I speak fluent Spanish, which is really helpful here in this area. I didn’t really speak any Spanish when I got to Mexico. I was there about 13 months and I learned most of it there. I still have lots of friends who live there.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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