Zoe Taylor, a veteran chamber executive with deep roots in the tri-county region, has been named interim president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.
Taylor will manage the chamber’s operations for the rest of 2012, according to a statement from board chair Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust.
Taylor has 28 years of chamber management experience prior to Santa Barbara, including nearly a decade at the helm of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, where she helped lead a major downtown revitalization effort. Since leaving the Ventura chamber she has served as interim president of several chambers, most recently for the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Taylor was recognized with the “Lifetime Member of the Western Association of Chamber Executives” award this year.
“[Taylor] has diverse experience in several different chambers over many, many years,” Garufis told the Business Times via email. “What stood out for us were the striking similarities among Chamber operating challenges and results even in very different locations. Chamber members basically want the same kinds of things, regardless of their city. Perhaps most striking for the interview team was our clear opportunity for improvement of membership retention and building of new membership.”
Taylor will work with the board as it figures out the group’s direction over the next decade, Garufis said.
According to the chamber, the recruitment process for a full-time president and CEO will begin this summer and the chamber’s board will be looking for input from the business community about priorities and directions for the organization.
The Santa Barbara chamber is the third-largest in the region, ranking behind the Greater Conejo Valley and San Luis Obispo chambers. Longtime Chamber President Steve Cushman announced earlier this year he’d be stepping down.
Although it hopes to have a new CEO in place by yearend, “The board of directors is committed to take whatever time is necessary to ensure the best leader is chosen to serve this region’s business community,” the statement said.