Citing a need to streamline its operations in the face of declining revenue, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce on Thursday announced that it has eliminated the position of long-time Executive Director Jan Vance and instead has hired two managers — one to focus on business and communications and the other on membership and events.
In a phone interview with My Edmonds News, Chamber President Ron Clyborne said it was a difficult decision to let Vance go, noting she has provided the Chamber “with 15 years of committed service.” But reduced revenue in the face of declining memberships — which Clyborne attributed to the economic downturn — required the chamber board to take a close look at its operations and restructure the organization, he said.
According to a news release sent out by the Chamber, both of its new managers will report directly to the Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee for day-to-day operations. Valerie Claypool, a long-time Chamber volunteer, will serve as membership and events manager. Ailsa Kellam, who comes to the Chamber from Edmonds-based Terwedo Financial Services, LLC, will serve as business and communications manager.
The two women “are highly qualified, both having previous Chamber of Commerce work experience and a passion for serving the Edmonds business community,” Clyborne said.
Claypool will be in charge of membership, sponsorships, tourism and facility operations, with a focus on membership recruitment and retention and events. A long-time real estate agent in Edmonds, Claypool brings 30 years of experience as a small business owner to her new post.
Facing a 15 percent decline in Chamber membership, the board was “committed to returning the Chamber to profitability,” Clyborne said. “We have been looking at all ways in order to do that including increasing and improving the efficiency of our operations and increasing our revenues.” He noted that the Chamber has only two revenue streams — membership and the annual Taste of Edmonds and that “membership has suffered.”
“It’s an area that needs to be addressed assertively and with commitment and we believe that Valerie is going to be able to do that,” Clyborne said.
Kellam will serve as the primary contact for all communications and marketing and oversee business functions. In addition to working at Terwedo Financial Services, she also previously served as membership development manager for the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re very excited about her coming on board,” Clyborne said.
Much of the Chamber’s membership decline “has to do with the economy,” Clyborne said. “In no way do we blame anyone, but the membership has to be addressed. It[s important from a revenue standpoint but more so from the standpoint of Chamber culture. Increasing membership makes for a more dynamic Chamber.”
The Chamber news release praised Vance, noting that she has been a familiar face to many for her significant role in making events such as the Taste of Edmonds, the 4th of July Parade & Fireworks and the Edmonds Car Show successful and meaningful for the Edmonds community. “Jan’s dedication to the businesses in Edmonds and to the greater Greater Edmonds Chamber of Commerce community has been greatly appreciated and all will miss her,” Clyborne said.
You can read the full Chamber news release here.