Chamber to hire new chief

Kerry Cobb moves to marketing full-time, after two years as executive director

Kerry Cobb will step aside, but not away, as Hood River Chamber of Commerce executive director, on Jan. 1.

Cobb will leave the executive job and devote herself full-time to marketing chamber events.

“The time is right for this; we have a great staff, and they know what they’re doing, and this is a quiet time of year,” Cobb said.

“We’ll get into a job search mode,” board president Andrew McElderry said. “We’re looking to fill the hole sometime in the middle to end of February.”

Bob Fox, incoming president, will serve as interim executive director, according to McElderry.

“Bob will be making chamber decisions, and be acting executive, while serving as chamber board president,” he said.

“The staff are solid. They’re great people doing an amazing job,” McElderry said. “There won’t be any hiccups in chamber operations.”

“I’ll be doing the marketing and contacting the (chamber) staff all the time so that piece will keep rolling along,” said Cobb, who will be hired as a freelance contract, and is in the process of finding her own office downtown. She will be running her own business, with the chamber as her main client.

Cobb did freelance marketing work in Portland, prior to serving as marketing director for the Portland Japanese Gardens. In July 2010 she was hired as marketing coordinator for the Hood River Chamber. She was named interim executive director in October 2010 and was appointed to the job in February 2011.

McElderry said there are no other staff changes planned; “We’re just basically splitting (the executive director) into two jobs.”

“It’s what I came here to do,” Cobb said. “Right now it’s two jobs, and a lot of work, a lot of hours; and after two years of all those hours I would rather focus on one job and have more like a 40-hour week.

“There is so much I don’t get to do with the marketing because I’m pulled in the other direction, and this will let me focus on marketing,” Cobb said. “Now that we have so much momentum going with the marketing, after two years of laying the foundation I just want to jump into it. I’ve been talking to the board for awhile, and it seemed like a good time.”

The executive director oversees the chamber staff, and the Visitor Center budget; though Cobb will be actively involved in that, according to McElderry.

The director oversees all other aspects of chamber membership and is involved in events such as Hops Fest, Blossom and Harvest festivals and the cross-channel swim.

“These have become big events over the past few years, and marketing them and being there for those events is just a lot of work,” Cobb said. “The executive director will have breathing room to work on sponsorships, and more direct cultivation of membership, more one-on-one time; whereas a lot of my time was pulled into marketing.”

“I see it as a more defined role than it ever has been before,” McElderry said. “Someone can come in and take the bull by the horns and know exactly what they’ve got. Especially now that the marketing end of it is so well handled,” he said.

Cobb added, “And there’s just more areas where the ED will have some fun challenges; for example sponsorship of events such as cross-channel, developing a bigger volunteer pool, working with the (Chamber) Ambassadors, and the Downtown and Heights councils, more on the business side and not the marketing.

“You don’t go as far as you want with any of those things because you’re always pulled two ways. More economic development, more government interaction — the list is long — that are chamber-oriented rather than marketing.”

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