Staff members organize and oversee the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau has more than a dozen employees to help the businesses and visitors here in town. Here's a look at the staff who are available to lend a hand:
President Gary Toebben has been with the chamber since 1981.
"Back in 1981, we had a staff of six," he said. "There's just a lot of things we're doing now that we weren't doing in 1981."
Under his leadership, the staff has grown and the group has expanded its services. The Convention and Visitors Bureau has expanded and the chamber has begun more work in economic development. As the chief executive officer for the chamber, he is involved in local governmental affairs and community projects. He handles strategic planning for the organization and helps in different areas of the chamber's operations as needed.
Before coming to Lawrence, Toebben was president of the North Platte Chamber of Commerce for five years and he worked with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for three years. He also taught junior high math for two years in Lincoln, Neb.
Kathy Bechtel is in charge of the chamber's communications, which includes publications and media relations.
She joined the staff in July 1998. She was formerly the marketing and communications director at Bankline in Lenexa. She is a native of Kansas City, Mo., and a graduate of Central Missouri State University and Leadership Winfield.
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For membership and small-business concerns, call Betty Markley. She has been a member of the chamber staff since 1983. "The greatest part of my job is the wonderful and talented business people in our community I get to work closely with. I have many dedicated volunt," she said. She also handles the chamber's data bases.
Meredithe McCormick works in the area of membership retention. She started out as a chamber member and later became a staff member 14 years ago. McCormick studied fine arts at Fort Scott Community College. "I'm enjoy working with people," she said. "I'm sold on Lawrence. I've lived here for 33 years."
She said she also does promotion and marketing for the chamber and helps with its newsletter.
Membership and special events are handled by Cathy Lewis. She has been with the chamber for more than nine years. "I share the benefits of chamber membership with businesses and encourage them to become members," she said. "I hold membership campaigns throughout the year using chamber volunteers to solicit new members to the chamber." She said she works with members to develop marketing and networking strategies for their business through the chamber and its programs. She also plans special events for the chamber.
The operation manager is Jeanette Ochs. She has works as a bookkeeper for both the chamber and the convention and visitors bureau, and she oversees the daily operations of the office. She also works with the president and as an administrative assistant for the board of directors. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University and from the Institutes for Organization Management.
Caryn Anderson, June Morton and Marie Galluzzi-Potter
Caryn Anderson and June Morton work are administrative assistants. Marie Galluzzi-Potter work works part time as an
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administrative assistant in the chamber's front office.
Debi Moore is stepping in as the acting director of the Economic Development Marketing program, taking over from Bill Martin, who left in March. Moore has worked for the Chamber for 23 years, starting out as a receptionist and working at various jobs during the years.
"There were four of us on staff when I started," Moore said.
She began working with economic development seven years ago. Her job includes marketing Lawrence to companies that are looking to relocate or expand. She also works with existing companies in the community. Moore attended Kansas University, where she studied advertising and editorial art.
Gretchen Gwaltney handles economic development research and special projects for economic development and marketing. She does demographic and statistical research for the chamber's publications, web sites and prospect proposals. She also serves as the staff administrator of the Lawrence NationJob Network, a chamber internet recruitment program. She has been with the chamber for four years. Before coming to the chamber, she worked for the Community Mercantile for eight years.
Linda Robinson is the Business-Education Partnership director. She has been with the chamber for five and a half years. "What I do is work with the business community, really the community at large ... that are interested in working with the public schools," Robinson said. "We get the community involved." Before coming to the chamber, Robinson had worked at several universities, as an administrator. She is a Kansas University graduate, receiving her bachelor's in English and psychology and master's degree counseling.
Judy Billings is the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. She joined the Chamber in 1980. "I started out as a part-time secretary" at the bureau, she said.In 1983, she took over as director. "I've seen a lot of development over the years," she said. "It's gradually grown from one and a half of us to be five. ... We market the whole community in a lot of different ways." Billings graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in education. She was an elementary school teacher. "That's where I got my organizational skills," she said.
Sue Hillman has been working for the Convention and Visitors Center since June 1996. She handles administration and database marketing. Previously, she was the coordinator for the Oread Neighborhood Assn. She was raised in Bend, Ore., and has a bachelor's degree in American studies from Grinnell College.
Dusty Workman is the convention and sport sales manager for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Workman has been at the chamber for almost two years. He graduated from Kansas University with a degree in communication studies and was vice president of operations for Kit Footwear in Kansas City and a property manager at Pinnacle Woods Luxury Apartments in Lawrence. "I am responsible for bringing conventions and sporting events to Lawrence," Workman said. "I am constantly searching for new leads for associations, military, religious, reunion groups and many more organizations to bring their conference or convention to Lawrence."
The travel sales and marketing manager at the Convention and Visitors Bureau is Jennifer Carter. She has been with the bureau since 1996. Her job includes production and development of publications, advertisements and web site material. "I feel like what I do on a day-to-day basis impacts my community in a positive way," she said. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas University. Before coming to the convention center, she worked in marketing at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka and Smith & Loveless Inc. in Lenexa.
Sonia Reetz and
Sonia Reetz and Debbie White manage the Lawrence Visitor Information Center. Much of their time is spent answering questions. Reetz has worked at the center since July 1997, on a part-time basis. White has been with the center since July 1996, on a full-time basis. They manage 35 volunteers. "It's never the same two days in a row," White said.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.