Megan Skelly, assistant executive director of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce for the past 12 years, is resigning this month to take a position at a veterinary hospital in Peru.
Chamber Executive Director Boyd Palmer, who is retiring at the end of the year, emailed chamber members Friday with the news, noting Skelly's last day will be Friday, Nov. 15.
Skelly told The Times her new role will be practice manager for Progress Park Veterinary Hospital in Peru. While the role seems like a sharp turn from her current duties, Skelly said she initially went to school to become a veterinarian, but switched gears during her sophomore year.
"So it's almost like coming full circle ... I'll be in an office where people are helping animals." In her new position, she will be managing human resources, marketing and networking, among other duties.
"I was given an opportunity I couldn't refuse," Skelly said. "The role I've had in the past 12 years is very public, and I'm ready to make a change for myself and my family."
Skelly started with the chamber as the project development coordinator – a role she held for two years before being named the assistant executive director. In that position, Skelly served as a conduit between local businesses, and focused on the chamber's membership by creating events, networking opportunities and educational programs.
Palmer added that he'll miss working with Skelly.
"'A well-oiled machine' is a well-known phrase. The chamber is that due to the 12 years Megan has served as my assistant executive director. Her duties were extremely broad, from bookkeeping, event planning and many other responsibilities. She leaves a great template for her successor.
"The chamber is fortunate to have Kristal Nodland, its office manager, to step in to keep the chamber's well-oiled machine running."
Chamber Board Chairman Angie Stevenson said the Transition and Search Committee hopes to fill the executive director position prior to Palmer's retirement, however, whether the assistant director spot will be filled still needs to be discussed by the board.
"At this point the board's main focus is to fill the executive director position," Stevenson said. "We had over 100 applicants and we've whittled it down. We started phone interviews with out-of-town candidates and next week we'll do in-person interviews."
Once a new director is hired, Stevenson said the board will review the office structure, and that structure will depend on the candidate hired.
"With Meg's news being kind of a surprise, the board hasn't met (to discuss her position)," Stevenson said, adding she has known Skelly personally for years through various city groups and "she was an asset and is definitely going to be missed."
The chamber currently has three staff members – Palmer, Skelly and Nodland; Nodland will handle membership needs in the interim after Skelly's departure.
"My family and I made this decision," Skelly said, adding her family plans to stay in the area. "I loved being part of this organization; it's given me a lot of tools and a lot of great memories."
Skelly said her focus is now on trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.