The Denison Area Chamber of Commerce hopes to finish its search for a new chamber president within the next few weeks, officials said this week.
Interim Chamber President Shelle Cassell said the chamber’s search committee is conducting interviews with four candidates this week. While Cassell did not say the chamber will find its new leadership with this search, she said the results are looking promising.
“We’ve not made any decision yet, and we hope to have some kind of outcome from this round of interviews, I’m going to guess early next week to mid-next week,” Cassell said. “(It will) certainly be before our Oct. 10 annual meeting.”
Early this year, the Denison Chamber started its search by advertising the position in trade publications. The initial search committee included representatives from the Denison Development Alliance, Denison Area Chamber of Commerce and the city itself, among others.
For its latest attempt, the Chamber has retained Strategic Government Resources, a recruitment firm based in Keller, to conduct the search.
In the initial advertisements, the city listed marketing, tourism, public relations, membership development and event planning among the skills that would be needed for the role.
“We are looking for the person that brings all the skills, talents and experiences that we can get,” Cassell said. “We just want the best of the best.”
As officials assembled the job posting, they found that these skills were fairly common in the tourism and chamber of commerce circles, Cassell said. However, Cassell said she did not have an answer as to why the position still remains vacant.
“As we did the interviews, for whatever reason … the candidates would just disappear,” Cassell said, citing unforeseen changes, other jobs and spouse employment as common reasons given.
This initial advertisement campaign resulted in 52 applications, with only three candidates possessing the skills needed for the position, Cassell said previously.
Of those three candidates, the Chamber conducted two interviews, but neither resulted in a job offer. Cassell said one withdrew her application due to unforeseen life changes, while the Chamber determined that the position would not be a good fit for the second candidate.
In May, the Chamber hired a headhunter to help find additional candidates for the position. The organization conducted several interviews earlier this summer and made an offer to one finalist. However, the candidate declined the job offer, Cassell said.
Previously, Cassell said officials also looked within to fill the vacancy, but two of the three full-time employees have less than a year of experience and the third had no interest in the position.
This comes nearly 11 months after the retirement of Chamber President Anna McKinney, who served with the chamber for nearly 40 years. It was later revealed that McKinney was asked to retire amid an ongoing internal investigation regarding funds that appeared to be missing from the Chamber coffers and from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which the Chamber oversees.
In August, McKinney pleaded guilty in the 59th state district court to one count of theft over $30,000 and under $150,000 and was sentenced to five years of deferred adjudication and a fine of $1,000. As a part of the plea agreement, McKinney was ordered to pay $55,477 in restitution. This represents all of the losses and costs to the Chamber, visitor’s bureau and city as a direct result of the theft.
McKinney could not be reached for comment on Thursday.