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DeLand Chamber searches for new leader

DEPARTED LEADER — Lacey Ekberg, who was hired as the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director this past January, has resigned to handle family business matters after her father, brother and another relative died this year. A search for her replacement has not yet begun.

DEPARTED LEADER — Lacey Ekberg, who was hired as the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director this past January, has resigned to handle family business matters after her father, brother and another relative died this year. A search for her replacement has not yet begun.

BEACON FILE PHOTO/COURTESY LACEY EKBERG

Ten months after landing what was thought to be its leader well into the future, the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce is once again searching for a new executive director.

Lacey Ekberg, who started Jan. 3 following a six-month search, has quit so she can focus on family business issues spawned by several deaths in her family, said Susie Dolan, this year’s Chamber president.

“She had several deaths in her family over the last year, [including] her father, a brother and a sister-in-law,” Dolan said. “She’s been having to go back and forth between here and Texas and Idaho,” where the family businesses are.

With all the traveling, Ekberg apparently found it difficult to focus and felt she had to be with her remaining family to help run the businesses, Dolan said.

“We’re definitely disappointed,” she said. “We were so excited when she was hired, and she was, too.”

Ekberg’s last day on the job was Oct. 27. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

Ekberg had been a “tourism specialist” since 2001, and has led or worked at agencies in 32 states. She came to DeLand after a six-month stint in Tarpon Springs, which followed two years in Key West.

Despite her somewhat nomadic past, Ekberg said in January that she was planning to stay in DeLand for quite a while.

“If they’ll keep me,” she said in her first days on the job. “I’m hoping they will keep me here for a long time.”

That turned out not to be. Even so, Ekberg helped improve the Chamber during her short tenure, Dolan said.

“We got rid of a lot of baggage, and [made] a lot of reorganizational moves,” she said. “We have a good board that’s very engaged and came together this year.”

There is no rush for replacing Ekberg, said Dolan, who is working closely with 2018 President Joe Hearn in dealing with the aftermath of Ekberg’s departure.

Everyone on the Chamber staff knows what they’re supposed to do, Dolan said, so the day-to-day operations will not be affected. The full board of directors will be meeting soon, and a previously scheduled planning session is coming up before the end of November.

“We’re getting things together to see what we need to do,” Dolan said. “Before December, we should have more of a plan, more direction by then.”

Wayne Carter, executive director of MainStreet DeLand Association, said his organization will continue to work with the Chamber despite Ekberg’s departure.

“We’ve always worked well together,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll find the right person to replace her.”

- Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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