The past six months has truly been a valuable experience. Running the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is hard work and demanding yet I found it exhilarating. It is not easy to put a portion of your life on hold to do a special project, but this one worked. Being an interim is very different from becoming the permanent manager. I knew eventually someone else will take over and I can return to my more normal life. I embraced the challenges as a member of the Board, to step up and assist in the search for a new permanent President and to support of the staff through this transition.
The experience I am having as the Interim President will be unforgettable. Members of the Board of Directors and the staff all say we were lucky I was available to step in and manage this transition, but it is I that is the lucky one. I have grown in so many ways these past six months. My biggest take away? The appreciation I have for the staff and the people on the Board. We are so lucky in Central Vermont to have such talented people willing to step up and make a difference.
As a forester I have been trained to see the forest for the trees. And yes “Mom….Money does grow on trees”. But it takes careful planning to maximize that return on investment. It is the same with running a business or managing a Chamber of Commerce. Stewardship of resources requires paying attention to details, anticipating future events and building safeguards to maintain a viable enterprise. By applying these basic principles was how this “old forester” was able to perform as a Chamber President.
Our small staff does fine work and tackles big projects. Tonya Barnett, Director of Administrative Services handles so many functions, greets visitors, fields a myriad of phone inquiries and is often times the front-line voice of the Chamber. Carole Hass, Director of Events and Programs pays attention to the details. Carole is the ultimate professional, extremely organized and ready for the next event challenge. Our newest member Jeannette Kingsbury, Director of Membership has become an important member of the team. She has reinvigorated our membership services program and is delivering on new member recruitment. My job as the leader was made so much easier because of the quality of the talents these three people brought to their profession.
The mission of the Central Vermont Chamber is to guide, inspire and promote the best interests of the businesses and professionals of the area, and to enhance the economic, cultural, educational and recreational opportunities of its citizens and visitors. The mission and vision of the Chamber was created by our Board of Directors during their strategic planning process. Their leadership guides the work plans of the staff. The board of the past four or so years has become a very active board. All directors serve in some capacity on a committee and volunteer for many activities the Chamber produces. It is the quality of the board membership that motivated me to motivate them. It gets no better than that. I wish I had the space to name all 20 of the directors, all of them play an important role in guiding this Chamber. I want to especially recognize the Executive Committee members: Board Chair Joe Choquette, Vice-Chairs Kim Bolduc, Denise Russo, Jon Skates and Kristin Hayes; and Past Chairs Lindel James and Leslie Sanborn for their confidence in me and their superior acumen in finding a new leader and getting us though this transition.
Moving forward, we have now hired a new permanent president. Kevin Eschelbach will be good for Central Vermont. He is a Barre citizen with excellent managerial experience. His work managing volunteers in the Boy Scouts is a perfect compliment for managing a board and the staff. A major goal of the search committee and the board was to find a new president that will embrace the activism of our board and nurture the policies adopted by the board with the implementation of our talented staff. Kevin contains those traits and with the support of our membership, he will succeed.
As I return to the forest and my work as a lobbyist, I feel good about this transition. Everyone did their part and we now have the people we need to move forward and succeed as we serve the needs of the business community in Central Vermont.
Thank you, Tonya, Carole and Jeannette for your support in letting me support you. Thank you, board of directors for having faith in me and for your continued wisdom as you guide this organization into the roaring 20s.
Ed Larson has been acting director of the Central Vt. Chamber of Commerce for the last six months.