Marybeth Williams carries on chamber's work in Jackson

Saturday, June 18, 2005
Marybeth Williams talked with Max Prill, left, and Melvin Van deVen during the May 10 Business After Hours sponsored by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce at Old Bavarian Sausage in Jackson.

The bookshelves behind her desk are still empty but the surface looks well-used, as Marybeth William begins to settle into her new office and role as executive director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

A month since starting the position, Williams has had little time to make her office reflect her gregarious and energetic personality. A few plants and a picture sit atop the table and desk corner, but the office doesn't have a "lived-in" feel yet.

But Williams has been rather busy in her first month, with a Business Showcase, the annual golf tournament, an Educator of the Year banquet and a Volunteer Appreciation banquet to coordinate.

"It's been a little difficult to get other things up to speed. I haven't had the time to dig in yet," she says. But she's trying to go through files, see how committees are structured, set goals and work to achieve them. She's saving a phone call to Ken Parrett, former director, for the important things, not just routine questions.

Parrett left in late March to take a job as executive director of the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce.

The flurry of activity at the chamber office isn't anything unusual for Williams, who worked behind the scenes for years as a volunteer and member. She also has experience teaching and in retail business.

That experience was what prompted her to take on the role as executive director. "I had been active in the organization and know a lot of people," she said. "I thought my experience and background in management would be a good fit." Williams said she also had people suggesting that she apply for the job.

One of the benefits of her volunteer experience is "knowing a lot of people and what their strengths are. I can pick up the phone and call someone to help and because I know them and their background, I can ask them to do something they will enjoy," she said.

She wants chamber members to feel comfortable in their volunteer duties and to feel like they're receiving the services they want from the chamber.

Williams doesn't have a laundry list of changes to make at the chamber. "I really just want to build on what's already here."

She intends to work toward increasing membership and awareness of the chamber's services. There might be opportunities to broaden the scope of an activity that the chamber sponsors or to add new events, but that will be decided with the input of the board of directors, Williams said.

"There's always an ebb and flow," she says of the chamber's membership. "But we have a good camaraderie and I think that will continue."

Meet Marybeth Williams

Position: Executive director, Jackson Chamber of Commerce

Education: Graduate of Jackson High School, Southeast Missouri State University and California State University-Sacramento.

Personal: Married to Kirk Williams, who teaches at Jackson schools. The couple has a cat, Buddy. Marybeth is an avid reader and gardener who likes to travel. She is on the state board for the PEO, an organization with two local chapters that support education and provide grants to women attending college. She also is active with the Miss Missouri pageants.

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