Perhaps the biggest advocate for the Randolph County business community is saying goodbye.
Kate Reed, executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, announced Wednesday that she will resign from her post April 12. Reed, who has worked in her current capacity since July 2011, has accepted a position with the West Virginia State Chamber of Commerce's Leadership West Virginia program.
Although she'll still be stationed in Elkins, starting April 15, Reed will step into a new role as the Leadership West Virginia program's alumni coordinator. Chamber leaders are sorry to see her go - under Reed's guidance, the organization had grown significantly, said Amy Schumacher, ERCCC President.
"We have been very fortunate to have Kate's expertise, excitement and enthusiasm for the chamber," Schumacher said Wednesday. "Our organization has grown in leaps and bounds with her as our executive director, and we wish her well. We will sorely miss Kate's organizational skills and timelines for all our chamber events, but plan to move forward."
Kathy Leombruno, chamber secretary and personnel chair, called Reed "a committed professional who brought excellent leadership skills, financial stewardship and remarkable public relations work to our Chamber of Commerce."
"She is held in high regard by our board and our membership and will be greatly missed," Leombruno added.
"We wish her the best and her leadership imprint will always be felt in the community and the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce."
Reed recently reflected on the goals she's accomplished and the lessons she's learned as the chamber's executive director.
"I've learned to be flexible because of the many projects we have to work on at once, and having a small staff requires juggling multiple tasks which aren't always planned," Reed said. "I also have a better understanding of what community really means and how important it is that everyone work together toward a common goal."
As its executive director, Reed says she's most proud of having kickstarted the chamber's Building Blocks for Business series, now in its second year. The seminars give businesses - both new and existing - the chance to collaborate with Elkins ONTRAC, the Randolph County Development Authority and other organizations and businesses in order to share business-boosting tools and strategies.
Under her leadership, the chamber has expanded the benefits it provides to its members, including the use of its 700-contact email list and Constant Contact marketing, Reed said.
"The quality of events has also improved as we have increased the number of chamber events per year, brought back Eggs & Issues (informational meetings) and planned out specific topics that are relevant to our business community," Reed said. Those topics range from health care and education to tourism and manufacturing.
Reed's also thrilled with the success of a new event rolled out this year - Randolph County Day at the state Legislature.
"I'm very proud to say that this first-time event was a great success and we're already planning for next year," she said.
But Reed says there's no way she would have been able to pull all those accomplishments off solo.
"I could never have been as successful without the support of a tremendous board of directors," she said. "Their professional guidance and faith in my abilities have allowed me to accomplish so many things. Because of the strength of the Chamber board, the organization will make a transition very seamlessly."
Schumacher and Leombruno are already moving full steam ahead in their mission to replace Reed with an equally qualified candidate. In fact, the search for an energetic and effective new executive director is already under way.
"Our goal during this transition is not to disrupt the good work that is taking place at the chamber office and that the community has come to depend on," Leombruno said. "The board has already begun a search process and we are confident that we will bring another successful and competent leader to the Chamber."
The chamber is accepting applications for the position of executive director through April 3. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree, and experience in business, communications, public relations, fundraising and economic and community development is desirable. Mail resumes to ERCCC Executive Director Position, P.O. Box 1519, Elkins WV 26241.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.