Mary Ingersoll, who has served for six years as director of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, is resigning at the end of this year.
Having accomplished what she set out to do, Ingersoll has decided to devote more time to her own business ventures. Those include Inspirations Dance Center, Bloom After School and Bloom Fine Arts Preschool. She also hinted at more business projects on the horizon.
In other news: Ingersoll reviews accomplishments during her 6 years
She recalled Monday when she was first hired: “I was really excited to be able to contribute to the community in a different way.”
She explained that the Chamber board then gave her a great deal of freedom to develop the organization as she saw fit.
One of her first calls, she said, was to a longtime friend, Natalie Redmond, who eventually became president/CEO of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. From the Chamber resources Redmond gave her to check, Ingersoll found it was quite overwhelming seeing what a Chamber could be for a community.
She cited a laundry list of accomplishments during her tenure as executive director.
Chamber President Toby Crippen said, “A great leader is one who has integrity, who is encouraging, someone who expects the best and has an intense vision for the future. Mary Ingersoll is all of these things and so much more. The contributions she has made to our community is unmeasurable.”
Immediate Past President Eric Kurre said, “Mary is great. She did so much. She is a true champion of our community.”
He arrived in Savannah as the new Savannah R-3 superintendent shortly after Ingersoll took the Chamber position.
“I can’t say enough about what Mary has brought to the table,” he added.
Chamber Vice President Rachel Piper issued a written statement in which she praised Ingersoll and her many successes.
“Mary Ingersoll brought a visionary perspective to the Chamber of Commerce and this community six years ago. Being a part of the Chamber and the Chamber board these last couple of years, I can honestly say that Mary brought a positive attitude and tenacious drive to make this community better,” Piper wrote.
She noted the hiring of Alyson Fisher as event coordinator enabled Ingersoll and the Chamber to bring a community event to Savannah every month.
“Her passion and drive were the people and the future of this community,” Piper said. “And she will be greatly missed in this role.”
In accepting her resignation, the Chamber board has opted not to fill the executive director position. Instead, Ingersoll said, the board will take on a greater leadership role.
Kurre explained, “It’s time to take off the training wheels,” suggesting that Ingersoll had led the group to a point where the board could assume many of her responsibilities.
In addition, current Administrative Assistant Cindy Taylor will work additional hours in a new role as Chamber administrator. She will have some regular office hours and handle many of the day-to-day activities of the group.
Piper said that Taylor “will be taking on a more responsibilities as well and will be the main contact for people wishing to inquire about joining the Chamber and so on.”
Also, Alyson Fisher will continue as events coordinator, a role she acquired late in 2020.
“I’m pretty excited where we are,” Kurre said.
The new board initiative actually returns to a time prior to Ingersoll’s time as executive director, when the Chamber also was board-led. Ingersoll noted that at least part of this decision was budget driven.
Piper said, “The Chamber will continue to be a partner to businesses in the area and focus on the overall well-being of the community. “
She suggested that the Chamber will be publicizing what she calls “spotlights,” which will target each board member so that the community might get to know each better.
She also announced that the Chamber is planning its 76th Annual Banquet on Jan. 27.
The event, which includes the popular reverse raffle, will be at the Preferred Community Center. She invited Chamber members to get their tickets and come out to enjoy a fun night and get to know other Chamber members.