Chamber of Commerce has new leaders

Photo by Ginny Kropf: From left, outgoing Orleans County Chamber director Rebecca Charland, outgoing president Kathy Blackburn and new director Darlene Hartway pose in the Chamber’s booth at the Home, Garden and Outdoor Show last weekend.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2019 at 11:45 am

KNOWLESVILLE – Having just wrapped up the 2019 Home, Garden and Outdoor Show, the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is ready to embark on another successful year with a new slate of leadership.

In April, Rebecca Charland announced she would be stepping down as director, effective April 30.

“I have been working two jobs for the last three years and my husband recently retired, so I am cutting down to only one part-time position to spend more time with him and my family,” Charland said. “I have enjoyed working with the Chamber and am very happy with the accomplishments I have brought to the organization.”

Darlene Hartway of Medina was approved as the new director at the Chamber’s May 1 board meeting.

“Darlene will be great and she will work for the entire county,” Charland said.

Other leaders approved at the 20th annual board meeting were Paula Knaak of Albion as president, replacing Kathy Blackburn, who has held the position for several years; Liz Midkiff, vice president; Adam Johnson, treasurer; and Bryan DeGraw, secretary.

Blackburn praised Charland’s accomplishments during her three years as director.

“Becky will be missed,” Blackburn said. “She has done an exceptional job and it’s been wonderful working with her. She has made our virtual office work, saving the Chamber the cost of rent, electric and other miscellaneous costs of running an office. This allows us to do more for our business community and members. Becky has helped immensely in obtaining new members and running our programs.”

The Chamber is also looking forward to their leadership under Knaak. Blackburn, who has served the chamber for decades as a board member, director and president, is looking forward to scaling back.

Blackburn said Hartway will bring a different aspect to the Chamber as its new director.

“She has a diverse background in businesses and world travel,” Blackburn said. “She has the personality and many new ideas to bring to the Chamber. I believe she will be an exceptional director and will work well with the communities and businesses and you will see our Chamber continue to grow and be our voice in this ever-changing world of business.”

Hartway said she is excited to get out in the community and talk to businesses.

“I want to make sure they know the Chamber is here to support them and let them know what the Chamber can do for them,” Hartway said.

At the annual Chamber meeting, they also recapped a very productive year.

The Robin Hill Wine Walk in Lyndonville was a success, Blackburn said. Attendance at the annual dinner was fantastic, and the Legislative Luncheon was one of the most successful, with the largest panel they have ever had. She thanked Medina attorney Nathan Pace for being moderator.

Blackburn said the Chamber is always looking for new board members, new Chamber members and participation on various committees.

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