Kim Valentine, the executive director of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce, announced April 2 her decision to resign.
Valentine’s last day on the job is April 30. Her resignation comes at the start of her sixth year in the position.
Valentine has been progressive chamber leader, keeping up longstanding chamber events like the annual business expo, Christmas parade and 5K race, but also welcoming new events like a fashion show and a local classic car show in her time.
“I helped with them, but the car show was John Hanlon’s idea and the fashion show was Kristin Heller’s idea,” Valentine said. “I was willing to run with them, but I certainly can’t take credit for them. Those types of events helped keep us open, but the real service we provide is to the members.”
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Among what she considers to be her greatest contributions to the chamber are her push for more training and workshops for small businesses, which she said makes up about three-quarters of the chamber’s membership, and creating a presence on social media.
“There was nothing when I came and now we have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a YouTube channel,” Valentine said. “That’s probably been a huge leap for us.”
Her passion for art, part of her reason for resigning, also resulted in monthly exhibits by local artists being featured at town hall.
“While Kim’s presence at the chamber will be deeply missed, we are happy for her and fully support her decision to pursue her passion for art and spend more time with family,” chamber President Mike Almquist said in a statement. “Under Kim’s leadership, we have seen chamber membership grow, services improve and activities increase.”
For years, Valentine has held painting parties in Wendell and now intends to hold them in Wilson, where she moved last August.
She also sells her own paintings and intends to make her artwork and related events her full-time job.
“I’ll still be coming to Zebulon and have events scheduled in Zebulon, so it’s not like I won’t be back here,” Valentine said. “It’s just I need to focus on what makes me most happy now.
“Everything I’ve learned here will help me tremendously with my business. I’ve learned so much here about working with small businesses. Now it’s time to take my own advice.”
The chamber’s board of directors has already started the search for its next leader and has asked chamber members to share recommendations they may have for the position. Valentine is assisting in the transition.
“We will make every effort to make this leadership transition as smooth as possible while continuing to provide … members with the many activities, events and services to which (they) are accustomed,” Almquist said in the statement.
Almquist on Wednesday forecast a three-month window to have the position filled.
“I think it’s always challenging because it is a rewarding but demanding position, but we hope to have someone (hired) certainly within 90 days,” he said.