Jodie Rutt, who led the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce through difficult funding debates, resigned as executive director of the organization last week.
Second Vice President Georgia Van Dyke is filling in as a volunteer interim director while the Chamber ponders its next moves, President Anne Myers said last week.
Ms. Rutt cited controversies over funding as one reason she stepped down. In recent years, the Chamber sought more money from the county Board of Supervisors, triggering bitter public debates and angry letters to the editor.
The Chamber received its increased funding, which went towards tourism and promotion. But last year, the Chamber shed tourism and promotion, turning the duties over to the county Planning and Development Agency.
“It’s been an uphill battle for a longtime––getting the Chamber’s word out, getting support, getting funding,” Ms. Rutt said.
“I still believe in it wholeheartedly. I’m just tired.”
Dr. Myers said Ms. Rutt submitted her resignation in September, but directors convinced her to stay on.
Last week’s resignation was something of a surprise.
“It puts the Chamber at some loss,” Dr. Myers said. “But Georgia has been there every day, and other directors have stepped up. People are pitching in.”
The Chamber moved from its office in the Schoharie Business Park to a storefront on Main Street, Middleburgh, last year.
Although the new quarters are cheaper, the move also signaled a shift from tourism to aiding local businesses.
That work will continue, Dr. Myers said.
She also said the Chamber will examine its options and won’t immediately hire a full-time executive director.
“Like every other non-profit, we’re suffering pinches of money,” Dr. Myers said. “We have to get into the nitty gritty of where we are.”
The Chamber may join forces with or cooperate more with other non-profit groups, she added.
And although Ms. Rutt’s resignation jarred the Chamber, it also offers an opportunity to re-examine the executive director’s role, Dr. Myers said.
“We don’t really know what our options are,” she added. “There are some exciting things going on and some new ideas.
“This is a new deal. We’re not going to rush in right away with a full-time director. We have to get a sense of where we’re going.”
She praised Ms. Rutt’s work, agreeing that the funding debates were draining.
Ms. Rutt joined the Chamber as tourism director in September 2005 and became executive director in January 2007.
She plans to stay in the area for now and has several interviews lined up.