- Cullman, Alabama

January 21, 2013

EDITORIAL: Chamber’s choice opens door of potential

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce has a new president in Leah Bolin.

While her official appointment was announced just last week, she has enjoyed a nearly seven-month period as the interim president, providing an opportunity to gain more familiarity with the organization and set some positive wheels in motion.

Bolin was recommended for the job by a search committee. The chamber board voted its approval. In the months since Kirk Mancer left the position, the search committee received more than 50 resumes from across the country, and one from overseas. The field was narrowed to six candidates, which included Bolin.

Bolin, an experienced marketing professional who has a deep appreciation for the value of a strong local business community, was among the finalists. But at the beginning of the process, the search committee had determined that the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent position. This was apparently an effort to avoid any potential hurt feelings or awkward moments among the other candidates, but this move wasn’t necessary. If anything, the stipulation may have caused some anxiety in the process. An interim leader is often needed, but that is no reason to prohibit a qualified person from seeking the job.

Many chamber members asked that Bolin be considered as a candidate for the job, which was to be expected because of her experience and knowledge of the community. After Mancer’s departure, few people on the chamber board had been faced with replacing the president. It had been a long time since the position was vacated, and that may likely be the case again.

Every effort should be made to establish lasting procedures,   should the chamber need to find a new president in the future.

Nevertheless, Bolin brings a wealth of ability and drive to the chamber presidency. She has already been focusing on building membership and making sure that the chamber connects with those it serves. The search committee and board made a good choice in choosing a leader who is capable and enthusiastic for the job. Expect Bolin to also lead the chamber’s renewed effort to build on the lucrative tourism market in the coming months and years.

The chamber of commerce has tremendous potential for the community’s business leaders. The idea of building the tourism market has long been needed in Cullman County, and bringing a professional of Bolin’s stature into the job is a big step in the right direction.