Chamber’s Executive Director Resigns, Interim Replacement Sought

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG)  |  By Jacqueline Fox
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After just seven months in the position, Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Creffield has resigned from his position, leaving the chamber’s top administrative slot open and forcing its board and executives to search for an interim replacement as momentum was building to boost waning membership and build up attendance at events.

According to Johnnise Downs, the chamber’s board chair, Creffield has left the chamber on good terms for a new position in Southern California. She said Creffield contributed significantly to the efforts by the chamber to address a shrinking membership base, which has slightly increased from 260 since January, but remains roughly 7.5 percent behind membership totals for 2016.

Earlier this year, Creffield said his primary goal was to help the chamber retool its brand and messaging, while also working to build membership up by as many as 48 members this year, admittedly adding the number would likely come in closer to 24.

Downs said the search will commence for an interim director, rather than a permanent replacement to allow for more time to solidify plans for carrying out goals under Creffield’s tenure and build on his successes to date. She did not have a number for the increase, but said membership is up slightly since the beginning of the year.

“Mark did a fantastic job and we are all very sorry to see him go,” Downs said. “Our plans are to not immediately replace Mark, but instead, put the word out and search for an interim executive director so we can slow down and take our time and build on the momentum he has helped establish in his time with us.”

Downs, who was installed as board chair in January, said she remains committed to the idea of rebranding the chamber and its message, but will immediately begin the process of bolstering communications with members, which she put the spotlight on immediately after her appointment. Next month, Downs said, the first comprehensive survey will go out to all members as a first-step move in determining their individual and collective preferences for everything from events to how they receive and send communication between one another and the chamber itself.

“Believe it or not, we have members who prefer to get only snail mail, while we have many others who just want to text,” said Downs. “So our first big and new communications tool will be this survey and it will help us determine what our members want and what they don’t want.”

Creffield formerly served as executive director for the Vacaville and Vallejo chambers of commerce. Prior to his departure, he told The Messenger that many of the chamber’s members were not taking full advantage of their benefits, including access to building a free web presence via the chamber’s site, as well as tapping a range of social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with new and existing customers.

Membership being low, so too have turnouts for monthly meetings and events, Creffield also previously pointed out, adding that he intended to also focus on getting new members to stay engaged after joining the chamber by diving into committees, attending more events and extending their membership well-beyond the ribbon-cutting ceremony.