NEWBURYPORT – After only two months as president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, former state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives will leave the chamber July 10, citing “unanticipated and pressing family commitments.”
O’Connor Ives, who was the unanimous choice of the chamber board to succeed then-president Frank Cousins, said in a press release she must “focus on family at this time.” She thanked her board for its “understanding and support.”
She declined to say what the family issue was, except that a close family member suffered a severe injury about a month ago. She requested that the family privacy be respected.
Nate Allard, the chamber vice president and director of membership, will be the Interim President.
“I encourage businesses that are currently members of the chamber or considering joining the Chamber of Commerce to meet Nate because he’s dedicated to identifying ways to grow programming and services that are relevant and helpful to our community businesses and non-profits,” O’Connor Ives said in the press release.
“Although circumstances require me to step away from the Chamber of Commerce as President, I’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with the staff, Board of Directors, volunteers and members, who all make the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce a vibrant organization striving to be a helpful resource for the Greater Newburyport community,” O’Connor Ives said.
Allard said it has been a pleasure working with Ives. “Even in this short time span, she has taught me a great deal. I wish her and her family good health and happiness. Going forward, I am confident and committed to serving our Greater Newburyport Chamber. I am going to work hard to make sure our members and local businesses are thriving. This community is my home, and I will continue to help it any way I can,” he added.
Taunya Wolfe Finn, owner of Wolfe Adventures and Tours and chair of the chamber Board of Directors, said, “I am certainly fortunate to have met Katy and been able to work so closely with her. Family is important, and we understand such needs come first. I think it says a lot of her character to come to such a heavy-hearted decision. She jumped into the deep end, kept good things going and started initiatives we will strive to continue. I’m confident with her expertise and how she cares about what happens in our area, she will continue to be involved with our community for years to come. We have a solid office team and engaged Board of Directors that will continue to keep working hard for our communities.”
O’Connor Ives called Wolfe Finn “a gem.” In the press release she was quoted, “Working with Taunya has been an exceptionally positive experience for me, as she brings a level of enthusiasm to her work as Chair that is contagious and very motivating. She is uniquely suited to advance the Chamber’s work in the areas of travel and tourism given her professional expertise and networks in this competitive field. Her leadership is helping advance initiatives underway at the Chamber where she’s focused on harnessing the talents and extensive experience of the board members.”
In addition to helping the community emerge from the Covid-19 Pandemic, Allard takes over at a busy time for the chamber. Its annual golf classic will be held at Ferncroft Country Club on July 22, the Cruisin’ the 50s Car Show will be on Aug. 12, the Waterfront Movie Series begins this month on Wednesday nights. And the chamber is working on a job fair with the Northern Essex Community College, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and MassHire.