• Laurel Contributor

Looking Back with Pride

by Ken Fernandez




It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I was first asked to serve on the Chamber Board of Directors.

As a member and former chairman, I’m both grateful and humbled to have been a part of such an amazing organization and it’s with bittersweet sentiment that I will be resigning my position on the Board. I will be taking on a new leadership role at the Highlands Cashiers Board of Realtors in 2020.

Leaders often talk about all they have accomplished during their tenures – their “legacies.” I always thought that was somewhat odd. No leader accomplishes anything alone and so many people are involved in the truly transformative achievements. I am no exception. Although I am beyond proud of the controlled growth that our Chamber has undergone in the last decade, I am well-aware that it is the efforts of all the board members and executive directors and staff that got us here.

There are numerous accomplishments/activities/events that occurred during my time on the CAC Board that I look back on with pride. However, these are the four that stand out most to me:

1. Assisting our Board in coming up with the Chamber’s Strategic Initiatives. The goal of these initiatives was and still is to provide extraordinary leadership in the Cashiers area as an advocate for business, information source for the community and conduit for destination awareness and responsible growth.

2. When Sue Bumgarner announced her retirement after 27 years, I lead the search committee to recruit a new Executive Director: Stephanie Edwards. Stephanie embraced the challenge and has been overwhelmingly instrumental in the success of our organization and our community.

3. Helping the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority as an inaugural Board Member to transition through growing pains to become a cohesive county-wide force for destination awareness and tourism management.

4. This one is personal for me…realizing how important it is to be part of something bigger than myself and the indescribable feeling to be part of such a warm, caring and giving group of human beings.

I am truly grateful for the past 10 years and the opportunity to participate on the Board of Directors. I have enjoyed every minute that I have served this community and I look forward to my successors taking our Chamber to even greater heights.

From the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce: We thank Ken for his unwavering leadership and support of the Chamber in the last decade. We have benefited from his vision and commitment and wish him continued success in his new industry leadership role.

- Mary Lanning, President, on behalf of the Cashiers Area Chamber Board of Directors.

The Laurel Magazine

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