Karin Moss needed a map to find Guerneville last year when she interviewed for the Russian River Chamber of Commerce director’s job. Now she calls the town home and says she’s happy to be here.
“What’s not to like?” said Moss. “It’s so livable. I have a five-minute commute to the office. I like the fact that I can go into the Safeway and run into somebody I need to see and get business done in the checkout line.”
Before landing in Guerneville, Moss was executive director for the Chamber of Commerce in Turlock, a small city in California’s Central Valley.
She was “seeking a kinder gentler experience” when the River Chamber opening appeared, said Moss. “My career goal is to conduct urban business in a rural setting.”
The lower Russian River fit the bill.
“It’s a whole different vibe,” said Moss. “But I do like the eclectic mix. It’s a very live-and-let-live environment. I’ve been surprised that I never get panhandled. I see the homeless, but I know some of them by name. The other night I helped cook and serve dinner” at the winter shelter in the Guerneville Veterans Hall. “It’s a good worthy effort,” to shelter homeless at least for the winter months, said Moss. “They’re very appreciative. I was glad to participate.”
Moss took over the River Chamber’s executive director post in October, replacing Elise VanDyne who had resigned to become field representative for Fifth District County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.
“This is a really good time for the Russian River Chamber,” said Moss.
With membership strong and businesses snapping back from last year’s flood, the new executive director is rolling up her sleeves.
The River Chamber is now preparing to host an expanded Spring Fling, its regional food and wine presentation in April. New USDA grant money has come in to create a business incubator lab project.
“We’re bringing in speakers, doing seminars, providing software, and it will all take place right here,” in the chamber’s First Street offices and visitor center, she said. “We’ll have two four-hour sessions per week that are free to members and a slight fee to non-members. It will be ready in early February,” said Moss.
“I reached out to non-members during the holidays to offer them assistance in marketing and shop-local campaigns. I was just talking to the county about putting together programs teaching hospitality and marketing services. We’ll have our business lab here, and we want to have resumé specialists and emotional intelligence experts” to help support disaster recovery.
Moss has a career spanning several decades, with experience including a wide range of corporate and nonprofit leadership successes, said the River Chamber’s media release announcing Moss’s arrival.
Moss has provided executive support for economic development and downtown revitalization programs in several cities throughout California as well as to the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., said the chamber release. She’s been a board member of the Kings Mountain (NC) Downtown Association, the City of Gastonia’s Reinvestment for Community Program and the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.
As campaign director of the census in California’s Central Valley, Moss was honored by the federal government for having one of the highest response rates in the United States due to her multi-ethnic marketing campaigns.
“I think I can make an impact. That’s the most important thing,” said Moss.
“As we’re moving forward under my leadership, I want the chamber to be transparent, inclusive and collaborative with all of our members,” said Moss.
“Karin’s breadth of experience and expertise are an excellent fit for us as we expand our membership and our working relationships within the community, the county and our local businesses,” said River Chamber Board President and resort operator Jeff Bridges.
“We’re delighted to welcome Karin to our staff as the new executive director.”