08/31/12 — Wayne Chamber has new president

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Wayne Chamber has new president

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 31, 2012 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce will have a new president in place Oct. 1 after the organization announced Wednesday that it had found a replacement for Marian Mason, who resigned in June.

Bonnie Grady will lead the Chamber beginning this fall, continuing a career that has included stints as president at two other chambers.

That experience, Chamber Board Chairman John Richards said, was what set Ms. Grady apart from the other applicants for the position.

"It was her past history in chamber work," Richards said, noting that she had left each of her previous chambers in a better financial situation than when she had arrived.

Richards said the position, which was advertised in June, attracted 50 resumes, which an eight-member committee whittled down to six. After phone interviews, three candidates were brought in for interviews and Ms. Grady emerged on top.

Ms. Grady said she would take time to learn about the programs that already exist in Wayne County, evaluating what is good about the Chamber and what can be improved and had no intentions of making changes immediately.

"I will not walk in and make changes right off the bat," she said. "I want to see what the needs of the community are."

In a release from the Chamber, she expands on those plans.

"Every chamber is shaped by its members and its community," she said. "My plan is to quickly learn all I can about the Chamber, its members and the Wayne County community."

A self-described "chamber addict," Ms. Grady said both times she left chambers previously to work for herself, she found herself missing her direct involvement with chambers.

"I just love working for chambers and being part of the community and working to effect change and promote the businesses that are there," she said. "I love that businesses can benefit through programs and services -- I like being part of that."

Her most recent work was in Elizabeth City where she was the membership director for the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to that, she was president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley in West Virginia and of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce in Maryland.

Ms. Grady said she was attracted to North Carolina because of family that resides here, saying the state had always felt like home even though she hadn't lived in the state before coming to Elizabeth City.

In the release, Ms. Grady said she is particularly looking forward to working with officials at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, especially since she is a former military wife and Department of Defense civilian employee.

Richards said while Ms. Grady won't be in place in time for the kickoff of the Chamber's second annual total resource campaign Sept. 6, she'll be heavily involved in the fundraising program after she takes the post officially.

Ed Wilson had led the Chamber as interim president since Mrs. Mason's resignation in June.