Chamber chief resigns position
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 1, 2012 1:46 PM
After a year that has seen the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce debut a new fundraising program and a new logo as part of its rebranding campaign, its members will now need to find a new leader after the announcement that the Chamber's president, Marian Mason, will resign in June.
Mrs. Mason, who began working at the Chamber in February 2011, told her board of directors last Thursday that her husband had accepted a job as a professor in China and she would also be joining him in a teaching role at a university there.
"This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make," Mrs. Mason said this morning. "I really do feel like the community got behind us and helped us accomplish some major things."
During her 14-month tenure with the Chamber, Mrs. Mason steered the non-profit back into relevancy with a variety of new initiatives, most notably the organization's Total Resource Campaign for finances which raised more than $150,000 during its seven weeks of fundraising among members.
Mrs. Mason also pioneered Chamber 101, a quarterly program to introduce new members to the Chamber, its staff, members and benefits.
John Richards, chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, said Mrs. Mason would be sorely missed, but that her husband's opportunity was not one that could be passed up. At least not again.
"He had passed up before and it's something that he probably wouldn't have another opportunity at," Richards recalled Mrs. Mason explaining. "He felt like he needed to do it."
Mrs. Mason said her husband had received the offer from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China just before she took the position with the Chamber, but, after some waffling, the couple decided they weren't ready to go overseas yet.
"Now it's my time to support him," she said.
Richards said that Mrs. Mason had stood out among past Chamber presidents for her committed involvement within the community. While previous presidents had stuck to their office, Richards said Mrs. Mason spent much of her time outside of the Chamber's newly renovated building -- another of Mrs. Mason's accomplishments during her short time in Wayne County -- talking with members and other stakeholders in the county.
"It's going to be hard to replace her," he said. "She's just been a tremendous asset for us. She really got people talking about the Chamber."
As for the Chamber's future, Richards said the board is working with Mrs. Mason to select an interim president to maintain the Chamber's gains while beginning the job search process. Richards said that the Chamber should have the interim selected between now and June 8, when Mrs. Mason's resignation will go into effect, and said he hopes to have a new president in place within three months.