The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce is preparing for a leadership transition after its top two officials announced plans to retire.
Longtime president Linda Williams and husband Marty Williams, vice president of travel and tourism, said last week they will step down together July 6.
"I have been blessed by my association with this organization and I have met and worked with so many wonderful people over the years," Linda Williams said. "I couldn't have written a better script for my life during these chamber years. It has truly been a blessing to serve this organization and each of you."
Hired in 1996 as the chamber's information specialist, she was selected to lead the group as president in 1999, a time when Dawson County would soon experience great growth. Marty Williams has held his position since 2006.
Jennifer Baker, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, said Linda Williams will leave a legacy of commitment to the organization and the local business community.
"She has done a tremendous job with it," Baker said. "I think she took something that started, obviously very small just like the county has, and was vital in growing it.
"Linda has absolutely put her heart and soul into the chamber. I don't think there has been any aspect of what has happened in this community that she hasn't somehow had her finger in or tried to support."
Baker said she and the couple began talking about their retirement late last year.
"It's been something they've been considering for some time. I think the timing was just right for them," she said. "They have been gracious enough to give us basically a 60-day window to start working through a transition and start looking for a replacement.
"We've been working toward that so we can have a smooth transition for everybody."
The board is currently working with a consultant to pinpoint the direction it will take toward the transition.
"We're looking at a lot, all at once. I don't foresee any huge changes," Baker said. "We're just trying to make sure that we keep the core foundation that we have strong and build on it to hopefully be able to better serve the members and be a better representation of our business community going forward."
The board, she said, plans to move quickly to begin the search for a replacement.
"Certainly, especially with the presidency position, that's going to be their primary goal," Baker said. "We're trying to look at this as an opportunity to maybe revitalize some things and insert some new energy into it and try to get a fresh perspective that can kind of take it and run with it. Just like it was with Linda, we're looking long term. We want someone that's going to come in and be a part of our family for a long time.
"But we also want to take advantage of the time Linda and Marty were willing to give us and hopefully get someone in there that can at least spend a little time with Linda and capture some of the intellectual data that she's been accumulating over that last 13 or so years."
Baker said the board members know they have big shoes to fill.
"She's a tough one to replace and she's going to be definitely missed by everybody that's worked with her, that knows her, that's ever had to deal with the chamber at all," Baker said.
Linda Williams said she looks forward to the next chapter in her life.
"I will continue to see you around town, so it isn't good bye, just hello in another role as citizen and community volunteer," she said. "I wish the chamber a strong and successful future as I do each of you."
The chamber board is planning a special celebration for the Williams. Plans will be announced soon, according to Baker.