Geneva Chamber Executive Director Resigns After Cyber-Bullying of Family and Friends, Board to Discuss Future

Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce get-to-know-you meeting announcement, August 16, 6 PM at the Farm Center/Extension
Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Vision Meeting flyer (Credit: Randy Torrance, 2018)

The Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce will be holding a special community “get-to-know-you” informational meeting tonight at the Farm Center/Extension tonight (August 16, 2018) at 6 PM. The focus of the meeting will be to reveal the new board and leadership, and to discuss the chamber’s vision for the future. Many of you became aware of this event through my efforts at publicizing it and had planned to come to support me in my role as Executive Director. Sadly, I will not be in attendance tonight.

Though most of you have been supportive of my efforts at restructuring and modernizing the chamber to be more focused on economic development, bring industry and tech companies to the area, and supporting and growing our local legacy businesses, a small group of folks in the community have attempted to defame my character me — thus bringing the validity of my serving as Executive Director of the chamber into question — by digging up dirt on who I used to be, with the apparent goal of discrediting the chamber, it’s leadership, and new board. I have already addressed the implied accusations of those parties and the besmirchment of my good name in my confession here. I have stayed out of the gossip halls of Facebook and have been able to weather the storm of this subtle-but-persistent assault on my reputation. However, the damage these parties have done to my ability to make a living for my family, is lasting and has resulted in my friends and family being harassed, taunted, and bullied repeatedly, both online and in-person.

This harassment and cyberbullying must stop.

For that reason, I have decided to step down as Executive Director of the chamber. On Monday, August 13th, upon the advice of friends, family, and board members I tendered my resignation from the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce. Though I know I could have done much good in that office, after much prayer and deep consideration, realizing leaving the chamber is the right thing to do. Not only for myself but for the greater good of Geneva County and the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce. This new version of the chamber is in its infancy and deserves a chance to grow and develop into the chamber of commerce I know it has the potential to be. In order for the new incarnation of the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce (including Samson, Slocomb, Hartford, Black, Malvern, Coffee Springs, and City of Geneva) to grow strong roots and have a sturdy foundation on which to build fundraising efforts for the county’s businesses, civic improvement for her citizens, and economic development opportunities that will bring jobs and prosperity to the town, I have followed the lead of outgoing chamber president Rhonda Stone and decided to take myself out of the chamber equation.

But, I believe the chamber is in good hands, from what I have seen, though the evolving makeup of board personnel has really been separating the wheat from the chaff. Leadership seems strong with significant experience in fundraising and community involvement, and with the adoption of good governance and best practices, I think the chamber has a good chance of becoming something valuable that will lead to a greater level of prosperity and community pride for all citizens of Geneva County. Of course, only time will tell.

Like a loving parent who sends their child off to the military to be trained, the chamber is in the hands of others now who collectively have more experience working with chamber of commerce matters that I do and I must trust that they will do a good job in guiding her development. Though from here forward, I will have no official role within the chamber, I will continue to monitor and report on the chamber’s progress and development.

Tips for the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce to Have a Successful Public Meeting

I encourage everyone who can to attend the meeting tonight. It is a public meeting where the new board and leadership of the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce will answer questions from the community. From a project management perspective, addressing the following dozen (12) questions will go a long way toward helping the community to support the new incarnation and direction of the chamber:

Since I will not be going, I would love it if you would post about your experience at the meeting, what you learned, or your thoughts!

May God bless and guide the Greater Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Katherine Hepperle
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Eloquent. It’s sad that there are those who would behave in such a manner.

Shirlee
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Shirlee

I am disgusted with how adults are teaching the children how to bully others. Eric Hepperle is a fine young man. He has dealt with his pass and ready to have a successful future yet people believe that your pass must consistently be thrown in your face. Everyone has issues in there past that they keep in the closet yet Eric was honest from the beginning and is being punished for his past through words. This is not acceptable. Everyone should have the opportunity to prove themselves once again. I pray Eric gets the opportunity to prove who he is… Read more »