RUTLAND–Mary Cohen, a longtime NeighborWorks and community leader, was appointed Wednesday, March 23, to be interim executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, effective April 1. She fills the position left vacant by the resignation of Tom Donahue.
“Mary will provide stable, proactive and energetic leadership to the Chamber staff and the Chamber as a whole while the board determines its course for the long-term,” President Dave Correll said. “Her willingness to step in quickly will ensure we have professional leadership in place immediately, through this transition period.”
Cohen is a longtime community leader, with deep local ties and a commitment to public service. She has served the region for decades on a variety of nonprofit boards. She most recently served at Neighborworks of Western Vermont, where she was director of operations and the homeownership center, and led Neighborworks’ community revitalization effort in Rutland’s Northwest Neighborhood. She was previously a Realtor at Berkley, Veller and Greene. She has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Vermont.
“The Chamber is often the first place visitors and newcomers turn, so I’m excited to be able to roll out the welcome mat and ensure their first experience is a positive one,” Cohen said. “I look forward to working with the board and staff to put Rutland County’s best foot forward as long as I serve.”
The selection committee, including Correll, Bill Ackerman, Marleen Cenate, Steve Costello, Lyle Jepson and Laurie Mecier-Brochu, recommended Cohen to the full board unanimously, which approved her unanimously.
“Mary brings a strong background in strategic financial operations and oversight, budgeting, management, staff development, and community outreach,” said Costello. “We are lucky to have her.”
Correll said the board retreat was intended to be the beginning of a deep examination of the Chamber’s strategic plan going forward. While the board completes that process, which could take several months, Cohen will lead the day-to-day operations, supervise staff and focus on marketing regional businesses and the region.
“We see a bright future for the Chamber and the greater Rutland County region, and will take the time to thoughtfully examine how the Chamber can best serve its members and the community at large before hiring a permanent director,” Correll said. “That process will examine what we have done historically and the relationships–past, present and future–we have with other community development organizations, while contemplating what we need to do differently, more innovatively or more collaboratively.
“Our goal is to build on our strengths and the strengths of our many partner organizations as we chart a mutually beneficial course for the next generation of Chamber members and local residents,” he added.