The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce put out a call for applicants in May.
Its executive director position was left vacant in April after the resignation of Terri Crain, who returned last year.
In 2006, Crain (then Terri Kingery), was the Chamber’s first director. She held the position until the end of 2010 when she resigned amid a swirl of resignations on the board of directors.
In the midst of upheaval for a variety of reasons, the board identified a conflict of interest when they discovered Crain’s assistant, whom she hired, was her boyfriend. The situation was a violation of Chamber bylaws.
Crain later announced she’d accepted a position directing a chamber in California and would resign. The local chamber went without a leader to fill that spot for more than a year.
Since then, the Chamber staff position has brought with it high turnover and personnel scandals.
After Crain’s first departure more than a decade ago, the Chamber hired Jim McMichael and titled the position chief executive officer and president.
Two members of the board asked McMichael to resign six months later, citing “philosophical differences.”
John Kennedy was brought in as his replacement on an interim basis. That lasted only months, however, after police arrested him on stalking and second-degree burglary charges. Kennedy was later indicted for harassment and criminal trespass.
A vacancy in the Chamber’s top position followed. Five months after the Kennedy criminal investigation, the Chamber hired Charlie Deaton, a veteran chamber director in Mesa to assist as an interim CEO while it searched for a new leader.
The Chamber hired Dave Moss as its CEO and Marla Lewis as its chief operating officer in May 2013. Moss groomed Lewis to take his position and left a few months after his one-year contract was up in 2014.
Lewis spent nearly two years as CEO following her year under Moss. She abruptly resigned in 2016, expressing “a desire to pursue other opportunities.”
A two-month search resulted in the hiring of 20-year-old Sara Troyer, at the time the youngest in the nation to direct a chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce was subject to a civil suit by one member whose husband applied for the position, but was passed over for Troyer. The case argued access to the Chamber’s hiring documents and process. The Chamber eventually won in court.
Troyer left one year into her tenure to accept a position in Illinois.
The Chamber came full circle in April 2017 when it announced the re-hiring of Terri Crain. She’s volunteering part-time at the Chamber while the Board reviews applications for her replacement.
In a recent meeting, the Chamber pondered its relevance and even considered closing the organization.
Members said closing is not an option.
“We are open to ideas; it’s just how do we get these ideas done with the budget that we have and without a captain running the ship?” board President Chris Cahall asked members during a meeting May 10.
This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.
This version has been corrected to clarify that two board members, not the entire board, requested Jim McMichael’s resignation in 2012.