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Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce hires new executive director

Teri Koerner helped shape Ashland into a major visitor destination

The Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it has hired Teri Koerner to be the organization's new executive director effective April 16.

Koerner, the former co-owner of 'Southern Oregon Reservations' in Ashland, has a background in tourism and chamber management.

'We looked at a lot of impressive candidates and Teri really stood out,' said Chamber Board Chairwoman Lynne Magner, who headed the search process. 'Her long ties to Oregon, her experience in running a small business and her impressive record as a chamber executive will allow her to jump in and have an immediate impact in Forest Grove.'

Koerner's Ashland business, which she owned with her husband, served as a reservation center for all activities - theater tickets, lodging, meals, rafting, etc. - during the Shakespeare Festival and other events in the area. In Ashland she was very active with the Chamber of Commerce and helped establish local visitors' bureaus. She served on the founding committee of Cycle Oregon and orchestrated the Ashland Fourth of July parade and festival.

'Ashland is one of Oregon's most impressive tourism success stories,' says Steve Boone, president and CEO of SakéOne in Forest Grove. Boone was a member of the chamber's search committee, which sorted through nearly 50 applications for the post. 'Teri worked with the city and business community helping make the area the wonderful destination it has become,' he said. 'I'm confident that experience will help Forest Grove as we work to attract more visitors.'

Koerner moved to Texas in 2004 because of her husband's failing health. She was hired as the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in Uvalde Texas, a city of 17,000. In the two years she was there she is credited with increasing the membership by more than a third. She is the president-elect of the Rotary Club in Uvalde.

After her husband passed away last year, Koerner began to look for the right job that would bring her back to her native Pacific Northwest.

'I am so pleased to be headed back to Oregon,' Koerner said. 'The Uvalde Chamber and the entire Uvalde community has been great to work with and very supportive, but it is time to 'come home.' I leave with mixed emotions, but have invited them all to come up to visit and spend their tourism dollars in Oregon!'

Koerner replaces Lois Hornberger who earlier this year stepped down as the Forest Grove Chamber executive to take a job with Pacific University.

Brian Wilbur, former chair of the chamber board of directors, credited Hornberger with shoring up the Chamber's financial health and strengthening its relationship to members and the larger community.

'When we hired Lois, the Chamber was in dire financial straits,' said Wilbur, of Pacific Insurance Partners. 'She played a very important role in turning our organization around and re-energizing our membership. We're thrilled that in Teri we found someone who can build on what Lois created and lead the chamber to its next level.'

Magner said that Robin Smith, who served as Hornberger's administrative assistant, will continue in her role as acting executive until March 31.

'Robin has been a huge help in this transition,' said Magner, who noted that the chamber is gearing up for is annual dinner and auction on March 17.

Koerner said she's eager to get to work. 'I was very impressed with the enthusiasm of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce Board members and look forward to working with them, the chamber members and the entire community,' she said.