A behind-closed-doors decision by the directors of the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce has left the organization without two-thirds of its paid staff and almost half of its volunteer board.
In a Nov. 30 letter it was revealed the chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously Nov. 26 to release its executive director, Maggie Stayanovich. Immediately after the vote, five of the 11 directors resigned their positions as a result of the vote.
However, since there were privacy issues surrounding the move, there wasn’t much chamber president Lisa Gregorini could say on the release of the executive director.
“The decision (to release Stayanovich) was unanimous by the board that was in place at the time, and as to why some of the directors decided to leave after the decision was made, I can’t honestly tell you,” she said. “I’m disappointed but people have their personal reasons.”
Attempts to contact Stayanovich were unsuccessful.
Gregorini could not elaborate on the nature of the circumstances leading up to the vote, neither denying nor confirming whether it was a business or personal decision to release Stayanovich, who had been with the chamber as executive director since July, 2010.
“It was a very difficult decision. As you can imagine a board of volunteers would have to think very seriously about what they are doing in this regard,” she said. “So this was not taken lightly.”
After fielding repeated requests for an explanation in wake of the decision last week, the board of directors sent out a letter Nov. 30 to chamber membership, noting they were “not prepared to disclose information that could be prejudicial to third parties.”
Gregorini said the move was not a cost cutting measure, nor was the prior decision to release the chamber’s executive assistant, leaving only the membership manager to staff the chamber’s office.
She noted the board received confirmation from two independent sources—legal opinion and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce—indicating the remaining six members were a duly constituted board satisfying quorum and were able to carry on chamber business.
Now the onus for managing the chamber is on the board to ensure the programs and services handled by the organization are met, including the delivery of the popular Friday market.
“It’s an emotional time, but we’ll get through it,” said Gregorini. “In the grand scheme of things change is always good. This certainly wasn’t what we were looking for at the time, but we do have a new strategic plan so … it is always good for a new person to come in and take on the operational side of that.”
Gregorini said recruitment of staff began this week, with an executive director being hired “as soon as possible” and an executive assistant likely hired early in the New Year.
“But we want to hire the right person,” she said.
Next week the hunt for six new directors will culminate in a meeting of the membership in the chamber office at 1199 Bay Ave. on Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.
The nomination process is being conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order until then, said Gregorini, with nomination instructions and forms available at the chamber office.
Unlike their usual practice, there will not be a recommended slate of candidates by a nominating committee presented at the meeting, nor will nominations from the floor be accepted at the meeting.
“We have the right to appoint (directors), but in terms of what has gone on and transparency, it’s open right now … and we’re not hand picking directors,” Gregorini said. “We want to make sure if there is someone out there who is interested that they have the opportunity to join the board. I don’t want anybody to think that we have already selected people.”