Greater Fayetteville Chamber leaders were full of excitement and enthusiasm just more than 12 months ago in announcing Shari Fiveash would be the new president and chief executive officer of the organization.
So was Fiveash.
“We’re going to make some lemonade out of the lemons of the last year,” Fiveash was telling chamber folks and guests who gathered at the AEVEX Veterans Club of Segra Stadium.
Apparently, something went sour.
Fiveash, according to the chamber, has resigned.
“Shari Fiveash served as president and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of commerce from May of 2021 through and including May 13th, 2022,” Tammy Thurman, chairwoman of the board of directors, said Monday in an email on behalf of the chamber. “During her tenure and through her leadership, the chamber grew its membership base and improved financial management. Mrs. Fiveash resigned from the chamber and we wish her well.”
Thurman said the board of directors is planning a search for a new president and CEO.
Call it a short and sweet statement from Thurman and the chamber.
‘Perfect person to lead our chamber’
And call it much different than a year ago, when Thurman told us Fiveash was the right choice to lead the chamber.
“We’re about to make history,” Thurman told those in attendance. “I am beyond excited about our new president. Our committee put in 500 volunteer hours, and we have the absolute best perfect person to lead our chamber.”
Fiveash said a year ago that the coronavirus had put something of a crimp in the chamber’s activities, but that she was here to get the chamber moving out again into the community.
“I do have experience,” she said.
And she did.
Fiveash worked with chambers at Lexington, Kentucky; Branson, Missouri; Chillicothe, Missouri; and South Windsor, Connecticut, where she also served as the economic developer for the town of South Windsor. She worked at the Connecticut River Valley Chamber before coming to Fayetteville to replace Christine Michaels, who resigned after three years on Oct. 16, 2020, to accept a position as president and CEO of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce in Tennessee.
Mum is the word
Chamber folks to include George Breece, the emeritus director for the chamber, are holding their cards close to the vest with regard to Fiveash and her departure.
“The only person who can speak for the chamber is Tammy Thurman,” he says.
On that note, I did email Thurman and asked her twice who the interim president and CEO will be. She didn’t respond.
I told Thurman, too, that I heard Fiveash was placed on probation about three months ago and asked Thurman why. She didn’t respond.
I asked Fiveash point-blank.
“Never on probation,” Fiveash was saying Tuesday, “but I can’t say more.”
We’ll leave it at that.
“Randy and I moved here to be of service to Fayetteville and Cumberland County,” Fiveash says in reference to her husband, Randy Fiveash, who is interim president and CEO for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I am proud of the accomplishments we have made to help the business community grow and prosper. I want to thank the community for their increased involvement and support.”
As to what happened at the chamber office in Festival Park, we just don’t know for certain. All we know, according to Thurman, is that Fiveash increased membership and had a positive effect on financial management. And that Fiveash, who appeared to like her job and adapt well to the city, had a short history with the chamber. And if there was lemonade in her time, the lemonade for whatever reason didn’t last long along the way.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or 910- 624-1961.