2018 will bring some changes for the Chamber, and some of those changes will be difficult for us, but we’re ready for it. When I signed up to become president of the Chamber - I don’t think I could imagine inheriting it in a better position! Everything was setup to be a reaping year, and we had all the perfect staff to keep the organization ticking along, I didn’t expect to have much to worry about. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes and those great staff members that support your organization evolve into something new and decide to apply those talents to something new. Gail, our outgoing Executive Director has given us ample time to select a new Executive Director to create a smooth transition. The Chamber is well on its way to picking someone for the position, and the interviews are probably going on as you read this.
One consolation in losing some great talent at the Chamber is that they didn’t leave Pendleton nor did they leave the mission of making Pendleton a great place to visit and do business. I look forward to working with Gail and Pat Beard in their new positions as the County Economic Development and Tourism coordinator and the Pendleton Convention Center Manager. There will be ample opportunities to work with Gail and Pat on various Chamber projects that we can all benefit from. Gail has been with the Chamber as our Executive Director throughout my tenure on the board and during that time moved the chamber’s management to a high level of professionalism both in the office and the board of directors level, and I have no doubt she can bring that to Umatilla County and create a better partnership between them and the Chamber. Last year our Travel Pendleton position also experienced turnover, but not before Pat helped build it up into something we could be proud of again. We have been able to fill the Travel Pendleton opening with Kristen Dollarhide, who has no lack of experience in Chamber business and is quickly acclimating to the new position. We all look forward to her ideas on how Pendleton can increase tourism and make crucial investments for our community to capture more of those tourism dollars.
I’ve seen the Chamber and Travel Pendleton become more successful over the years, and I firmly believe that we’ve built a strong base for these new staff members to work from. An influx of new ideas, the framework of our old guard and the support of our membership will carry the Chamber forward into 2018. I would like to thank you for being engaged with the Chamber, especially those of you who volunteer to serve on committees of the board. If you have time to become more involved this year and would like to serve on a committee please do, we need you. Our committees are where many programs and special events are run from, and they are a great place to get to know your fellow businesspeople. If you’re interested in serving on a committee please contact the Chamber office, myself, or another board member and we’ll get you signed up!