KINGMAN - Pam Wilkinson is stepping down as president and CEO of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce after serving in the position just shy of four years.
Wilkinson said she is stepping down after her father-in-law in Southern California was diagnosed with progressively worsening Alzheimer's disease about nine months ago.
"It's gotten to where it's going really fast, and we just feel like we're too far away to be effective if something happened to him," she said. "If we weren't around, I don't think we would be able to live with that, so it's with regret I'm leaving, because we own a home here and everything, and planned on staying here, but it's just too far away."
Wilkinson said she also has two grandchildren she will be spending a lot of time with, as well.
Among her accomplishments as chamber president includes leaving the chamber in better financial standing, and she said she will miss working with those at the chamber, and the great business community in Kingman.
"When I first got here I would say we didn't have a lot of money, so we had to let people go and build a reserve, so that's precisely what we did," she said. "I'm leaving a financially stable chamber, and I'm quite proud of that."
"I've met so many wonderful people here and I'm really sad that I'm leaving, and won't be in contact with them as much as now," she added. "They were a big part of my being here, there are amazing business people here, and the community is wonderful, very embracing."
Wilkinson has also turned over her role as international Route 66 festival organizer to Dora Manley, who is on the chamber's board of directors.
"I think she's more than capable to take over anything that was started, and we just had a two-hour conversation just filling her in where I left off," said Wilkinson. "She has a lot of wonderful enhancement ideas, and I think Kingman will be very, very happy the way things are going."
Manley said although she is taking over Wilkinson's role organizing the festival - which the chamber asked her to do - she will not pursue the open CEO position.
"We were sad to lose her," said Manley of Wilkinson. "She's just been awesome to me, and done a lot for these events to bring the chamber together. I'm going to miss her."
Manley also works as organizer of the Chillin' on Beale Street classic car show, which has garnered several hundred participating vehicles, and is expected to triple during its participation in the upcoming Route 66 festival, said Wilkinson.
"The Route 66 festival is coming along nicely despite some of the negative comments you hear," said Wilkinson. "We're going to have an electric vehicle museum that can actually make Kingman a destination, and I think that's greatly exciting for Kingman, because electrical vehicles - that's our future."
Manley said her caseload is a lot, but it is something she enjoys and is optimistic about, particularly when working with businesses she normally wouldn't on a daily basis.
"I am really excited about it, and I think it's going to bring our community together," Manley said of the Route 66 festival. "We're getting more and more cooperation as time goes along, and we're starting to receive the phone calls we've been hoping for."
Manley said the chamber chose her to take over for Wilkinson because of her past experience organizing festivals, and anyone interested in participating in the Route 66 festival, or anyone with questions about this year's event can reach her at (928) 279-4560.
The chamber is currently advertising to fill the president/CEO position, which includes medical insurance benefits, two weeks vacation in addition to professional association membership dues and expenses, mileage and cell phone reimbursement, according to the chamber's advertisement.
Salary is commensurate with experience, according to the chamber, which has 458 members and an operating budget of $250,000 and a support staff of three serving the Kingman and Golden Valley areas.
Prior senior-level experience is required, and/or five years prior management experience with the chamber or similar organization, and bachelor's degree in business, marketing, public administration or related field is preferred, the ad states.
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and three references speaking to the candidate's experience and skills to Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, with attention to J. Taylor at PO Box 6799, Kingman, AZ 86402.