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Outgoing CEO Natalie Masri not 'the right fit' for Charlottesville Chamber

Though she dedicated more than two decades to empowering women in business and working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Natalie Masri found she wasn’t "the right fit" for the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber announced Masri, who had only spent seven months with the 110-year-old business advocacy group, would be stepping down as CEO and president on Dec. 11.

“Natalie Masri and the Chamber Board of Directors care about the highest value to the organization,” Rebecca Ivins, who chairs the Chamber’s board and has taken on Masri’s role until a more permanent replacement can be found, told The Daily Progress. “Natalie did not feel she was the right fit and wanting to bring value to the Chamber and to the Community, has decided to pursue other opportunities.”

Ivins stopped responding to The Daily Progress when asked if Masri accepted a new position elsewhere.

Before she stopped responding, Ivins said that the Chamber’s board of directors hired Todd Jorgenson, the managing director and principal of Jorgenson Consulting, to begin the search for a new president and CEO. Jorgenson previously helped recruit Masri after the departure of Elizabeth Cromwell in February after roughly four years at the head of the organization.

“[Jorgenson] will be doing a full assessment of the organization and the community to build an appropriate profile to recruit the next leader of the Chamber organization,” said Ivins, a client solutions manager at the Richmond-based construction firm Hourigan. “The search will start here in our region and branch throughout, not only the Commonwealth, but also nationwide.”

Until another candidate is presented, COO Andrea Copeland will oversee the day-to-day operations, as she did following Cromwell’s retirement until Masri arrived, according to Ivins. The Chamber’s original statement said that Ivins would fill in as interim president and CEO starting Jan. 16, while Sasha Tripp, the board’s vice chairwoman, would replace Ivins as chairwoman for the time being.

The Daily Progress reached out to Masri for comment with no response. Her Twitter and Linkedin profiles still identify her as president and CEO of the Chamber. She has not been active on Twitter since she retweeted the Chamber’s post about its "Best in Business Winners" in early November.

In the Chamber’s original statement announcing her departure, Masri was briefly quoted, though she offered no explanation for her resignation: “I continue to believe wholeheartedly in the mission of the Chamber to advocate, convene, and engage to strengthen business in the greater Charlottesville Region.”

Masri took the helm on June 1.

In an interview with The Daily Progress before her departure, Masri’ predecessor Cromwell said she was looking forward to taking a “sabbatical” after spending most of her time at the Chamber trying to navigate businesses through the pandemic.

The nationwide search that took place after Cromwell’s resignation resulted in hiring Masri.

“The search committee was impressed with Natalie’s experience in working with and supporting chambers across the country through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as her extensive experience in strategic planning and her focus on supporting, developing and growing women and minority businesses. She will be a strong addition to the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce as we step into our next chapter,” Arlene Lee, Chamber member and CEO and principal at Charlottesville-based Lee Construction Group, said in a statement announcing Masri’s hiring.

Shortly after she was hired, the Chamber released a piece, “Chamber Spotlight: Natalie Masri,” in which Masri was asked to name her favorite thing about Charlottesville.

“I have lived in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, and the Washington, DC area but Charlottesville is my absolute favorite,” Masri is quoted saying. “I’m passionate about this unique city, its rich and complicated history, and its vibrant culture and character — it’s what makes Charlottesville an unparalleled destination to live, work, study, and visit. Businesses have an important role to play here — they are truly drivers in making our communities and local economy even stronger.”

Masri was also posed the question, “What is your favorite quote or piece of advice?” She responded: “Attitude is everything. How you choose to show up or confront an issue is going to have a big impact on the outcome.”

The Chamber has already started its search for a new CEO, its second in one year. Those interested in the position can submit a resume and cover letter to sasha@storyhousere.com.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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