Longtime chamber director moves on
This is a bittersweet time for Kathy Farrell, who ended a 22-year era at the Tahoe Douglas Chamber of Commerce to begin a new one for the Tahoe Tallac Association.
The association announced Friday the appointment of the South Shore’s chamber fixture as its new executive director, Tallac’s fourth in the last five years. This is while Tahoe Douglas’ and South Lake Tahoe’s chambers of commerce continue with their plans to at least physically merge by Nov. 1.
A chamber selection committee is in the process of collecting applications for the joint chamber’s new chief of staff to complement at least seven departments ranging from membership to government relations.
“I think they’re looking for new blood,” she said. “Tourism and promotion is my love.”
Hence, going to work for the organization that runs ground-zero for the history of the South Shore off Highway 89 – the home of Valhalla, Pope and Baldwin estates. She’ll begin the new job Aug. 1. Her last day at the chamber offices at Roundhill Square will be July 31.
The merged chamber will relinquish its tourism promotional role including operating the South Shore’s visitors centers to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
When asked what she’ll miss, she clutched her forehead and fought back the tears.
“I’ll miss the staff and the members,” she said.
As executive director for the Nevada chamber, Farrell leaves many memories and instills a legacy of creativity. Year after year, Farrell organized a high-energy chamber dinner primarily intended to install new boards. Each one had a theme based on the incoming president. On the year former LTVA Executive Director Bill Chernock was installed, she had a low-budget yet hilarious film made that demonstrated the exploits of a colorful “Mr. Bill” – which was based on the “Saturday Night Live” character.
Farrell has made many friends, acquaintances and comrades in her role as fulfilling policy of 17 board members trying to balance commerce from the lake’s Nevada side.
On the California side, South Lake’s Executive Director Duane Wallace echoed others when he said he’s thankful she won’t leave the community. Wallace said he applied for the post Tuesday.
“I think the Tallac Association got a great find, a brilliant person. I loved working with her. If it wasn’t for her, Leadership Lake Tahoe wouldn’t have gotten off the ground,” Wallace said. Leadership is an annual program designed to spur civic involvement among those seeking to make a difference in their community.
Jodi Ballard, a staffer, said she thought it’s too bad Farrell is leaving because she believes she’d make an ideal director.
“I think she’ll do a fabulous job. They need someone like her. She is, to me, a Wonder Woman. She took this chamber from 90 members to 700,” Ballard said.
Chamber member Brian Williams characterized Farrell’s departure as “a sign of the times,” and called her “the glue lady” who keeps things together for the Tahoe Douglas Chamber.
“It’s a Tahoe Douglas Chamber loss and the Tallac Association’s gain,” he said.
The joint chamber building is going up at Edgewood Village at the corner of Highway 50 and Kingsbury Grade, which will shared between the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, Douglas County Administration and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. Tahoe Douglas signed off on its portion of the lease, which Farrell said would run up to $6,500 a month.