The new CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce is familiar to members and already comes every day to the Chamber office.
Christie Ray was the project leader for the Consider Prince George initiative housed at the Chamber, that is until Monday when she was named Chief Executive Officer. She replaced Dorothy Friesen who held the position on an interim basis since the amicable resignation in June by former Chamber boss Jennifer Brandle-McCall.
While there are some very large shoes to fill, I am confident that Christie will excel in the role and that while the selection process was onerous, I feel the board has been able to add value to the membership by extending the offer [to Ray], said Chamber president Derek Dougherty. He added that he and the board "are confident that the management skills and experience Christie brings to the position will help provide a strong foundation for growth opportunities to be realized within the Chamber of Commerce."
Born in Prince George and raised near Smithers, Ray has a long history with small business in Prince George. After graduating from UNBC in 1998, she ran marketing programs for several local companies. She also managed municipal-level projects related to the recruitment and retention of skilled employees to the community. After a few years living in Prince Edward Island, she moved with her family back to this city earlier in 2013.
As someone with deep roots in Prince George, I have a great desire to help the business community grow and take advantage of the forecasted economic development for the region, she said.
Brandle-McCall's decision to leave was largely based on family considerations. The Chamber CEO is often required to work long and odd hours. Ray, also the mother of young children, was up front with the board about that issue as they discussed her candidacy.
"That was very much a consideration for me and my family in my applying, and the board as well, in making their hiring decision, and we came to an agreement about ways of me having the best chance of success in this role," said Ray. "It absolutely helped that I am already so familiar with the Chamber's operations."
It creates another job opening, however. Ray's position leading the Consider Prince George project is now vacant.
"We are going to put an advertisement out for the job of finishing that contract. It will be circulated on our Member Marketplace system and we hope to receive proposals by the end of the week. We need someone quickly because the project requires constant care," she said.
There was already an existing job vacancy, that of manager of membership services, held most recently by Sam Batarseh. He resigned this summer but the board did not rush to fill the position.
"The decision was made to hold off on that until they chose a CEO and I'm so glad," said Ray. "I'm a huge believer in team dynamics."