Former VP in Kentucky inherits an organization with four employees, down from 14.
A former vice president at one of the nation’s best statewide chambers of commerce is now president of the Flagler Chamber. The executive board ratified the hire of Aimee Stafford on Dec. 4.
"She is exactly the type of individual we were looking for," said Allen Goodman, chairman of the Flagler Chamber. He said she is professional, articulate, positive and has a strong demeanor.
Stafford inherits the Flagler Chamber at a time when there are just four employees, down from 14 at its peak. She plans to do a lot of listening, both from chamber members and nonmembers, to understand what people expect from the organization to make it relevant in Flagler County.
“I’m not from the community,” she said. “I think that might be an advantage at this point. I don’t have any preconceived notions. … I anticipate re-creating the chamber.”
As senior vice president of administration for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce from 2005 to 2019, Stafford was responsible for the daily operation of a staff of 40, which had a budget of $10 million per year. The Kentucky chamber was named 2017 Chamber of the Year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
She said she has seen many best practices for chambers and can help to institute them in Flagler County.
“I want people to join the chamber because they believe in what the chamber’s doing,” she said. “ … It’s all about quality of life for everyone, not just the business members. I see the chamber as a community organization not just a business organization.”
With a low unemployment rate, Flagler County has a lot of potential, Stafford said. She hopes to promote workforce development, to keep as many young talented high school graduates in Flagler County rather than watching them move to bigger cities.
She is open to using the chamber’s platform to advocate for candidates or policies — but only if the board and members are interested in doing so.
Stafford replaces former president Jorge Gutierrez, who resigned Sept. 13.
"We're faced with some challenges but nothing that is insurmountable," Goodman said. "We're poised to have a great year next year."