By Mary Owen
The Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce selected two executive officers to build its strong identity with business owners in the communities it serves.
Holli Thomas steps in for former executive director Kelly Schreiber, as the SSCOC’s new president and chief executive officer.
Interim president/CEO Carmélle Bielenberg takes on the role of vice-president and chief operations officer.
“Prior to Kelly’s resignation, we already had two important roles,” said Skip Neill, who chairs the chamber’s board of directors. “We really see the need for a president/CEO with Holli’s experience in directing the efforts of the Stayton Sublimity Chamber going forward. We anticipate Holli bringing a lot of energy and experience in helping the chamber function in an economic development capacity.
“Carmélle skillfully led the chamber while we searched for Kelly’s successor,” Neill added. “She will continue with the role as membership and communications coordinator. However, as VP/COO, she will also support Holli in the business development and membership training function. Other duties include coordinating the efforts of our great volunteers as well as managing the day-to-day operations of our chamber.”
Thomas comes to SSCOC with what Neill calls “great chamber experience” from her work in the Madras, Prineville, and Woodburn chambers of commerce.
“Holli has also managed several businesses in addition to owning a business of her own for over 10 years,” Neill said. “We’re excited about the wealth of knowledge she will bring to the work of promoting a thriving business climate that enhances local economic vitality and community livability.”
Thomas said she is very excited about working with “an incredible team of people.”
“It is most interesting to me to be a part of a collaborative, forward-thinking organization,” she said.
Thomas said creative management was required to bring the Madras and Prineville chambers to the level of success set forth in their goals and strategic planning.
Building relationships regionally and an open-door policy helped them reach their expectations, she said.
Both women are already working with the board to ensure a smooth transition and build a foundation for “excellent collaboration,” Neill said.
“We all recognize these transitions take time, but we are encouraged by the early progress and transparency in forging this important relationship,” he said. “The challenges facing our chamber are the same issues facing our community at large. We would like to assist in revitalizing the economy in our area by attracting new businesses and, thus, creating new jobs. Doing so will bring dollars to our community and improve profitability for businesses already functioning here.”
Thomas admires the board for its progressive thinking and believes challenges are “nothing more than momentary distractions, and as we as an organization face them, we will work with all available resources to ensure the chamber stays on track.”
Bielenberg is also passionate about relationships and operational efficiency.
“I’m really excited to continue working in much the same capacity as I have been the last few months as interim CEO,” she said. She described her :dream job” as “Focusing on the operational side of our chamber, working on marketing, communications and events, while continuing to work one-on-one with members.”
Bielenberg believes the chamber must look at making a bigger impact on the community by listening to members’ needs and responding in tangible ways.
“One of the biggest challenges of any chamber is how to best serve the needs of such a diverse business community,” she said.
“Our ability to proactively advocate for and support our local businesses has a direct effect on the economic wellbeing and livability of our communities for future generations.”
All three believe that by having a two-person team, SSCOC will be able to help keep Stayton a great place to live and do business.
“Holli has great experience in improving relationships and collaborating with local governments,” Neill said. “She has demonstrated ability in encouraging economic development and skill in advocating for our membership.
“Carmélle has deep roots in our community, is well organized, and proactive in listening to our membership to understand their needs. She will continue to develop and coordinate training opportunities and other events for our members. I think we will all be amazed at what they are able to accomplish in the near future.”
Neill said the chamber plans to be more active in legislative advocacy on behalf of chamber members.
“There are many issues being considered in the legislative session that have potential to significantly impact business. We are striving to be well-informed on these issues and mobilize our members in the legislative process.”
Neill said Thomas and Bielenberg are meeting with community leaders to better understand the chamber’s role in building a successful business climate and enhancing community livability.
“I invite our members to come in and chat,” Thomas said. “Tell me what is happening in your world and what you would like to see from your chamber. Your opinion, your thoughts are not only needed, but for us to succeed, they are desired and expected. I look forward to meeting the community and working hard toward the goals set forth by the members.”