Basalt chamber, CEO decide by mutual decision to part ways
After weeks of confusion, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that its board of directors voted to accept the resignation of President and CEO Robin Waters at a recent meeting.
The announcement ends the befuddlement among some chamber members over what was happening at the top of the organization since the start of 2017.
Waters sent an email to members Dec. 29 announcing that the chamber’s office in the red caboose by Basalt Town Hall would be closed all of January for “clean up, organizing and a much overdue staff vacation.”
“After two and a half years of substantial membership growth, program expansion and events, we need to take some time to reorganize,” Waters wrote.
But when February rolled around, Waters didn’t report back to active duty. Her email at the chamber said at the beginning of the month that she was “on leave.” It stopped providing autoreplies later in the month.
Charlie Spickert, the chamber’s chairman of the board of directors, initially declined to answer Tuesday if Waters was still the chamber’s president and CEO. He said a statement would be issued within the “next day or two.” Later in the day, he said a statement about Waters’ departure was mailed to chamber members.
Spickert told The Aspen Times that Waters’ departure was a mutual decision between her and the board, made at the board’s meeting in the fourth week of January. The announcement was delayed at Waters’ request, he said.
He termed the parting of ways a “natural evolution” and one that isn’t uncommon between an organization and its leader after some time. Waters is interested in broader community involvement, including political issues and health care reform, he said. Her role as head of the chamber restricted her ability to participate in those broader roles.
“Robin will continue her work in real estate projects and as a marketing, political and community consultant,” said the statement from the Basalt Chamber.
She will not continue working in any capacity with the chamber, Spickert said.
Spickert said Waters was on vacation Tuesday, and she did not immediately return a message to her cellphone.
Waters’ prolonged absence from chamber-sponsored events over the past two months has raised questions among some members. She has been a fixture since she started at monthly mixers called Business After Hours, ribbon cuttings for new businesses and at Town Council meetings, but had no official presence in January and February.
One chamber member, who asked to remain anonymous, decided to renew membership for 2017 but voiced concerns about the chamber’s direction because of the uncertainty at the top.
In Water’s absence, the chamber executive assistant and director of community relations Missy Hagen has been the face of the organization. That also was confusing because the chamber announced late last year that Hagen was leaving for other opportunities.
Spickert said the search for a new director will begin immediately. The chamber’s reorganization will create three positions: executive director, director of special events and community relations, and membership services and communications relations.
Hagen was promoted to the director of events and community relations and will stay on with the chamber. The executive committee of the board of directors will oversee and guide Hagen until a director is hired, Spickert said.
Waters was instrumental in trying to revitalize the downtown core of Basalt while still promoting commerce in the other sections of the bifurcated town. She avoided the town’s political fray of 2016 and focused on being a consistent cheerleader for her members and the town as a whole.
The chamber’s statement said Waters was leaving the organization better and stronger than it was before she took the helm.
“It has been immensely gratifying to be able to get to know, work and support the businesses and residents of the Basalt area over the past few years,” Waters said in the prepared statement released by the chamber. “The future of Basalt and the Chamber hold exceptional promise, and I look forward to continuing to cheer along with every community achievement.”