Business

Chamber loses another executive director

"For the third time in the last eight months, the position of executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce is vacant.The latest resignation is by Poulsbo resident Mary Graves, who left the job March 17, after only 15 weeks on the job.Graves took over as executive director of the chamber Dec. 1, 1999, filling the vacancy left by Deborah Horn, who left the group late last year after only a month at the office. Prior to Horn, the post was held by Sharon Zerr, who held the job for about two years, before resigning last July.Graves said the chamber's 10-member board of directors knew about her previous chamber experience, and later told her she had been hired for the people she knew and the respect she had from the business community.So you can understand how surprised I was when they wanted to hire me as office manager, said Graves, who had previous experience with the Kingston and Poulsbo chambers.Graves said that rather than being allowed to provide a strong leadership role for the chamber, she was eventually reduced to overseeing day-to-day duties in the chamber office.It is beyond me why they hired me, she said.The board's goals and Graves' duties, she said, experienced a large shift as a result of the failed effort for Silverdale's incorporation. The incorporation effort was turned down by voters on Feb. 1.As soon as that was not successful, I think it was at that time they wanted an operations supervisor, she said. For my part, midway through, they changed direction.Chamber President Diane Russell said the duties of executive director and the move for Silverdale's incorporation were completely unrelated.I wouldn't tie the two together, she said. The two have nothing to do with each other.Along with basic office duties such as marketing and bookkeeping, Graves said she perceives the executive director as responsible for formulating and presenting the chamber's policies and mission statement, as well as maintaining ties with local businesses. Fifty percent of that job is supporting those members, she said. Certainly, when you're a village such as Silverdale is, the executive director plays a real important role in those contacts.Rather than receiving guidance from the executive director, Russell said the board is responsible for providing leadership to its 550 members.We have a very strong and healthy chamber, she said.Not having spoken with Zerr or Horn before taking the position, Graves said she was unaware of their reasons for leaving the chamber, and did not want to speculate if it was for the same reasons she had.Despite leaving the post, Graves called the split amicable, saying she just did not agree with some of the board's recent policies and changes.There's just so much arguing you can do, she said. But it's just the direction in which the position of the executive director is moving, is the real split between the board and myself.Russell confirmed there were no hard feelings between the chamber and Graves.There's nothing sinister about this situation, Russell said.In Graves' absence, Russell said Betty Sue Jameson, office assistant for the chamber, has assumed many of Graves' former duties. While there are no immediate plans to fill the executive director position, it is a possibility in the future, Russell said.The board is looking into it, she said.Despite leaving the Silverdale chamber, Graves said she is open to assuming a similar role for another chamber or other organization.I am not out of the market to work in that capacity at all, she said. But I don't know if it'll be around here.Graves is currently volunteering with the Poulsbo-based Community Event Productions, a non-profit group that organizes youth events such as the Third of July event."

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