After serving the Chamber of Commerce for the past 15 years, Karen Tercek will be retiring from the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce at the end of the month.
Her last day as president and CEO of the nonprofit will be January 31st.
“It was challenging,” says Tercek. “Definitely servant leadership. You work for a nonprofit, so you’re not there for the money. You’re really there to help people and make a difference. is what I really enjoy about this job.”
Tercek said she never went to work in fear because every day was different and that she had the opportunity to create a program to help and support small businesses looking to grow.
“I know people don’t want to reflect too much[about the coronavirus]but I’m especially proud of the direction we’ve taken,” she said. But we felt we couldn’t be paralyzed as leaders of the Chamber of Commerce, so we immediately started setting up Zoom calls, calling members and assisting them with the protocol. We got the program and contacted elected officials to see how they could help us. PPP Loans and Forgiveness Loans — We have done a lot of work in that area I’m proud of it.”
Tercek credits the Board and staff for what the Chamber has accomplished during her tenure.
“A lot of people came to the Chamber as employees,” she said. “Donna Swan has been here the whole time I’ve been here and has done an amazing job and of course my replacement Marketing Manager Dana Wolfe has done an amazing job too.” has a similar business background to mine.”
Tercek believes that having a business background is beneficial when running a nonprofit, as providing a strong revenue stream can lead to success.
“She[Wolfe]has a strong business background, great educational experience, and a servant leader mentality that really wants to help the business grow, so I am very happy,” says Tercek. said.
While working for the Chambers, Tercek stood out for the merger of two Chambers. Five years after he served as the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the Western Chamber of Commerce assumed a mission as the Willoughby Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Ten years ago we combined the two with amazing support,” says Tercek. “It was a tremendous amount of work, but we knew it would serve our members better.
Each year, the Chamber tells the Chamber what they are looking for, based on surveys from members. It’s a way of dealing with what nonprofits try to do every year.
“We want the heartbeat of our members,” said Tercek. “We want to know how we can best serve them. I think that is why we are so successful. Yes, and that’s what they want.”
Tercek’s first post-graduate career was as a career counselor at the University of Georgia, counseling students on their career paths. For her, Tercek has always felt that her career was her journey.
“Everyone’s career is a journey,” she said. “You can use the skills you have in many ways.”
After graduating from higher education, Tercek entered the corporate world, selling pharmaceuticals and medical devices before working in marketing, sales and business development for small start-ups.
“I did that for about 15 years and worked for another nonprofit,” she said. “At that point, I was raising three children. Once everyone was more independent, I think it was time to look for something to do more with. Online ad for the opening of the Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce At the time, they asked for a powerpoint on what I would do to lead the organization. I’ve always wanted to help people.There’s more to a career than money.”
After retiring, Tercek does not find himself sitting. She may do consulting on the side of small non-profits and businesses, and plans to do more training and volunteer work outside of the Chamber of Commerce world.
“I definitely need time to see what I want to do,” she said. “I have so many things on my list. I have two weddings next year. Our son and daughter are getting married. There are so many wonderful people I’ve worked with and they say they help others.” It has been such a rewarding career that I am bittersweet to leave.”