Contributed by Kristina Chavez Wyatt, Farmhouse Communications:
Following a career that has spanned 24 years, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Susan Valenta has announced her retirement. Valenta will remain on staff though late 2013 to ensure the selection and transition to new Chamber management.
“The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has been an important part of my life, and I have been privileged to work with talented individuals throughout our community,” said Valenta. “These 23-plus years have given me the opportunity to work in many capacities within our community, all with an eye of progress and community betterment. My plan is to retire from my position in one year, but my greater plan is to always be a resource and a support to this great organization.”
Valenta began her career in 1989 as the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Member Services and Programs Director. She held that position for five years prior to her promotion to President/CEO in 1994. With a 24-year career in organizational management, her expertise has earned her respect throughout the chamber industry and she is recognized as a key contact for issues relating to chamber operations and management.
“Susan is such an amazing, strong, well-respected, ethical and impassioned leader, there is simply no way to fill her shoes," said Chamber Board Chairman Eric Howard. "Thankfully, the chamber is in a solid position to recruit a highly-qualified new president.”
“Being with one chamber of commerce for 24 years is a major accomplishment that we just don’t see often. Susan has been a major player in the chamber industry and will be missed,” said Steve Snyder, CalChamber Vice President of Local Chamber Relations.
Over her tenure as the Chamber’s President/CEO, Valenta served as an active facilitator and collaborator, ensuring that community programs initiated by the Chamber were successful and sustainable, including the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in 1996, Gilroy Visitors Bureau/Gilroy Welcome Center, Gilroy Leadership Foundation in 1995 and Business & Education Task Force & Summit.
Valenta’s additional accomplishments include managing the acquisition, expansion, renovation and façade improvement of the Chamber office building, the statewide model Garlic Festival beer concessions alcohol management program collaboration and the founding and establishment of the Chamber’s political arm.
She is Past Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Coalition of Santa Clara County, serves on the boards of directors for the Gilroy Welcome Center, Gilroy Leadership Foundation, Gilroy Downtown Business Association, Gilroy EDC, a member and Past President of the Gilroy Rotary Club and served on the Gilroy Downtown Specific Plan Task Force.