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October 5, 2012

Chamber searches for new head after director resigns

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — After almost a decade on the job, Catherine Green resigned as director of the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce last month.

She announced the decision Sept. 14 and spent her last day as director Sept. 28.

The announcement came as a surprise to many local business owners and chamber friends, but in the end, they all supported her decision to leave the time-consuming position to focus on her family.

“I didn’t know about it until the day she put in her resignation, so I think it was somewhat of a last-minute decision, but I think it’s something she’s been thinking about for a while,” said Sidney Smith, who owns a local comedy production company and T-shirt line and is stepping in to fill Green’s shoes until the chamber board hires a replacement.

They won’t be easy shoes to fill.

“I think with most chambers, the board is the face of the organization,” Smith said. “But with the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber, the director is. Catherine was the face of this organization and whoever replaces her will have to take on that role.”

According to Jeffrey Kuehl, the president of the board and owner of Culver’s of Roseville, the director is much more than just a figurehead.

“The director has to be motivated, sales-driven, professional and personable, and have skills in marketing and communications,” Kuehl said. “They meet with a lot of business owners in the two communities with a goal of helping them grow, and in the process enriching the community.”

While at the helm, Green implemented after-hours business socials and morning coffee networking forums; started a local taste of the town event with great success in its first year last year; and fostered the growth of the Eastpointe Enhancement Commission, the group that brought the Light Up the Night holiday lighting, community garden and farmers market to the city. Independent boards have taken over the holiday lighting and garden, but the farmers market is still under the chamber umbrella and might be growing to encompass Roseville next year.

Growing is just what Kuehl says the chamber plans to continue doing.

“Catherine has done a great job for the chamber, but we can’t let her absence keep the chamber from growing, and that’s what we are going to do: We are going to continue growing the chamber, servicing local businesses and enhancing the Eastpointe-Roseville communities.”

He added that the chamber is working on even more projects in the coming year and hopes to offer better and more efficient and usable services to all its member businesses. To do that, they’ll need a director willing to work nights and weekends.

And for Green, that was the problem — too many nights and weekends, coupled with long days, left little time for her most important job: being a mom.

Green, 44, has two boys, ages 7 and 8, both special needs. She said they need her now more than ever.

“It was a great job — I love the people and all of the businesses, but it was time for me to be a mom,” Green said. “With the chamber, I was away from home so much that it affected the kids. It was taking a lot away from them, and they don’t deserve that. I always say my kids didn’t ask me to adopt them. I chose to, and I need to be the best mom to them I can be, and with the long hours, I wasn’t around enough for them.”

Being a full-time mom won’t stop Green from being involved in the community though.

“I’ll still be involved,” said Green, a Roseville resident and member of the Eastpointe Kiwanis and the Roseville Optimist Club. “Just on my terms, on my hours.”

In her absence, chamber members are scurrying to finalize arrangements for the upcoming 21st annual Deck the Halls auction Nov. 7.

“Everyone who is anyone is there,” said Smith, acknowledging that he was only half joking. “This is one of the biggest events of the year for the two communities, and we want it to be better than ever this year.”

The chamber has tickets for the open bar, pasta dinner, charity fundraiser auction available at the office and will be collecting items for auction throughout the month.

Despite the last-minute rush to make the annual event as good as ever in Green’s absence, Kuehl and Smith both seemed supportive of her decision.

“It’s a good opportunity for her to spend more time with her family and her two young boys,” said Kuehl. “This is something she really wanted, and I’m happy for her. She’s left the chamber, but she’ll still be involved.”

“When we were first moving in here, I used to joke that we would have to bury her here (in the new office),” Smith said. “She was here all the time and she loved this place, and she believes in the businesses and communities we serve. She’s gone, but she’ll still be around.”

As for the position, Smith said, for now he’s just helping in the interim, but he’s up for anything, and regardless of what or who comes next, he has a few good ideas for the chamber that he hopes to begin work on in the new year.

The Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce is located at 23320 Gratiot Ave. For more information, call (586) 776-5520.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.