Chamber selects new executive director

Special to The SUN

Cindi Galabota

Cindi Galabota

The Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce has selected a new executive director to replace outgoing director Mary Jo Coulehan. The nod went to local candidate Cindi Galabota, current executive director of Archuleta County Habitat for Humanity. Galabota was the only local candidate that was included in the final round of candidates, which consisted of applicants from around the country.

The search process was not only posted locally and regionally, but through the Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives organization and another national Chamber search site. Over 20 resumes were submitted.

The Chamber board reviewed the resumes, with the top five candidates earning a more in-depth interview. This process resulted in a final choice of two candidates that were then placed before several interview committees: the Chamber board; a group of community leaders including a county representative; Chamber staff; and business representatives.

While a local candidate’s perspective was certainly an advantage for the interview committees, the groups were really looking for leadership attributes. With the changes that the Chamber will be involved with this year, leadership, thinking outside the box and passion were some of the critical qualities that the groups were focused on.

Galabota has been the executive director for Habitat for the past seven years. She has designed and implemented many new ideas for this organization during this time, including the Recycled Art Show and a focus on rehabilitation of homes through the Home Repair program, not just building new homes.

Galabota was also awarded the State Habitat for Humanity Executive Director of the Year award in 2011.

Prior to her position with Habitat for Humanity and moving to Pagosa Springs, Galabota held various leadership positions, giving her experience in business administration management, volunteer coordination, program development and implementation and marketing design.

Galabota is known and respected in Pagosa Springs as an involved nonprofit leader and is on several committees promoting Pagosa’s nonprofit agencies and the community, including United Way of Southwest Colorado in Archuleta County and Socorro Senior Living Center.

Galabota currently sits on the Rural Philanthropy Days hospitality committee, co-chairing with Lynne McCrudden the implementation of all the multi-day catering needs, which is a significant part of the logistics of the event.

Through her work as an executive director, Galabota is involved in strategic planning, budgeting, grant writing, special event fundraising, negotiations and day-to-day operations.

As one community interviewer commented, “She hit it out of the park.”

The incoming and outgoing Chamber directors will transition during the month of April. A number of activities will take place in the next month including a membership survey and, as the Chamber looks to expand its role with the business community, Galabota and the organization will be looking for the involvement of the businesses.

Galabota will continue to oversee the events planned for 2014, including the Car Show, Park to Park Arts and Crafts Fair, the Renaissance Festival, the Bike Tour of Colorado and ColorFest weekend. She will oversee the relocation of the Chamber facility, the resurrection of the welcome service under the direction of the Chamber and an extensive educational calendar for the businesses.

Coulehan will continue to serve on the Region 9 board of directors, representing private industry in Archuleta County, as an advisory council member with the El Pomar Foundation Southwest Council, the Club 20 alternate representing Archuleta County, and co-chair of Rural Philanthropy Days.

Coulehan is committed to making this transition as smooth as possible, not only for the Chamber, but for the community.

“All I ask is that this community support the new Chamber Executive Director and give Cindi the chance to make her own mark just as I was allowed to make my mark when I took over from Sally Hameister,” requests Coulehan. “Despite my mistakes, this community has always been so supportive of me personally and this organization. Pagosa’s Chamber of Commerce continues to have one of the strongest per capita memberships in the state with even our website receiving significantly more visits than much larger communities. We’re focused on business, ready to tackle the changes and some uncertainties, and I look forward to supporting and helping Cindi transition however I can.”

There is often an adage about the talent pool in Pagosa Springs and you never know who lives here. Despite a national search, the Chamber board hired a candidate that was right in our front yard. Congratulations to Cindi Galabota, new Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Member survey

With all the changes that will be occurring for the Chamber in the upcoming months, a membership survey will be executed in early April. This survey will go out electronically to our membership. The survey is fairly short, but includes questions that the Chamber board hopes will give them some direction on the items and issues that are most important to the membership.

The survey will ask you to rank some of the Chamber services, your opinion of and comments on Chamber events, and suggestions on how the Chamber can better serve the business community.

It is very important that we hear from you. Please begin thinking of the Chamber’s involvement in the community, your involvement with the Chamber and how we can be even more strategic in our business efforts. Watch your e-mail in-boxes. Take a few minutes and answer the few questions.

Business news

We welcome back Sweets-N-Such to the Chamber membership. Our renewals this week include Third Generation Outfitters, Step Outdoors, DSP Pizzeria, Southwest Property Trust, Curtains Up Pagosa, Pagosa Trail Riders, Restoration Fellowship, the Republican Party of Archuleta County and Durango Coca-Cola.

On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, thank you to Mayor Ross Aragon for all his years of service to this community and his support of the Chamber of Commerce and we wish him a smooth transition, pursuit of his hobbies and visions for Pagosa, and a restful retirement.

This story was posted on March 27, 2014.