There’s a new face at the Chamber of Commerce, although she’s no stranger to Mason.
Sarah Russell, who grew up in Mason, was named executive director and started in the new position on Sept. 30. She said her degrees in entrepreneurship and small-business management and a certificate in counseling speak to her passions.
“Coming back to Mason has been overwhelmingly welcoming,” Russell said. “It just feels like home.”
The 33-year-old also said she’s looking forward to people getting to know her as an adult.
“I am beyond excited to be back in the community,” she said.
“It’s time,” said former executive director Doug Klein, 66, who’s held the position since 2005.
“I try to keep the smile off my face, but it’s kind of difficult.”
Klein said the fast-paced environment and ever-changing responsibilities and duties of the job is something he loved about the position and that Russell will find “not just a challenge, but also a lot of fun.”
A single mom of three, Russel says she expects a challenge will be balancing her executive director duties and raising a family, but is excited and optimistic about the job.
“There’s some big shoes to fill,” Russell said.
Russell’s goal is to follow in Klein’s footsteps but also create a bit of change and make the role her own as well.
Russell said that “keeping the standard the same” is important and that residents should expect to see traditional and popular events such as Down Home Days, Doggie Trick or Treat, Witches on the Town and the holiday parade to continue. However, she also wants to implement some changes.
Living in different small communities for the past 12 years, such as Southern Pines, North Carolina, has given Russell a perspective on how chambers are run outside of Mason, and she wants to bring some new ideas back to home base. She says the Friday night live events hosted in North Carolina reflect the small-town culture she loves about Mason.
“Everyone’s looking for a chance to get together and socialize,” Russell said.
Klein will be sticking around the chamber until Oct. 26, acting as a part-time consultant to assist Russell acclimate. However, it won’t be the last you see Klein,as he plans to stay involved in the community as president of the Mason Area Historical Society and an active member of the Lions Club.
A reception in honor of Klein will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Dart Bank headquarters. The community is invited.