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Chamber director resigning to take new job

Natasha Parvey-Leskowich named interim executive director as Linda McDougle departs

Photo Credit: FILE - The visitor center in St. Helens owned by the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. The building is closed this month while the chamber's executive director meets with members. The executive director job has been passed to Natasha Parvey-Leskowich on an interim basis.The South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce is losing its executive director.

Linda McDougle announced Friday, Dec. 5, that she accepted a full-time position with an Aloha-based company, Parks Metal Products Inc., on her Facebook page. She will resign her post with the chamber to take the job, the interim president of the chamber’s board of directors confirmed.

“Linda received an absolutely amazing offer, and we are incredibly happy for her,” said Tiffany Smith, who also owns the Dockside Restaurant in St. Helens, on Monday. She added, “We’re very, very sad, but incredibly happy for this opportunity for her.”

McDougle is being succeeded, at least in an acting capacity, by St. Helens businesswoman Natasha Parvey-Leskowich.

“Natasha’s been a volunteer for us for a while now,” said Smith. “She’ll do very well helping us through the end of the year.”

While Parvey-Leskowich was hired to “an interim position” as executive director, Smith said, it is possible the board may hire her in a permanent capacity.

Parvey-Leskowich did not return a call requesting comment before press time, nor did McDougle.

Parvey-Leskowich is also active with the St. Helens Economic Development Corp., taking the lead on a competition the nonprofit group is running to challenge entrepreneurs to devise a business plan for operating in St. Helens’ commercial districts. However, Smith said, Parvey-Leskowich’s SHEDCO experience was not a factor in her hiring.

“Her skill set is what we chose her [for],” Smith said. “She’s had some experience working with chambers before. Her resume fit really well with what our membership goals are.”

The executive director is the only paid position on the chamber’s staff.

Recently, the chamber has been conducting a “member outreach effort,” dispatching McDougle to meet with chamber members and “just checking to see how we can better serve our members,” as Smith put it.

The chamber has closed its visitor center in St. Helens until after the New Year holiday. Board members said last month that with McDougle out of the office meeting with members, they do not have the staffing capacity to keep the building open. McDougle also said last month that she has been working part-time this winter.

“Natasha will just pick up where Linda left off,” Smith said of the member surveys.

For chamber members, she added, it “may be a different face that they’re seeing, but I think they’re going to be just as happy with Natasha as they were with Linda.”

The Spotlight is one of more than 200 members of the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s membership includes service clubs, nonprofit organizations, churches, public agencies and local governments, as well as businesses from Scappoose to Deer Island.

The next meeting of the chamber board will be held Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. Smith said the board is expected to discuss its process for hiring a permanent executive director to replace McDougle.