Candace Carr Strauss Named Big Sky Chamber CEO

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March 14, 2017
Candace Carr Strauss Named Big Sky Chamber CEO
Board of Directors Builds New Team to Support Members, Strengthen Community Leadership
Big Sky, Montana [March 14, 2017] – On June 1st, Candace Carr Strauss will take the reins as the new CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and Visit Big Sky. Her experience over the past 20 years, in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, has primarily been focused in the experiential economy. She’s directed emergency fundraising efforts to raise marketing funds to bring people back to Washington, D.C. immediately following the events of 9/11; led a team at Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies as the Director of Development; and most recently, has been auditing and assessing Wonderful Copenhagen’s funding model tied to its 2017-2020 strategic destination marketing plan.
“We’re tremendously excited to have Candace on board,” said Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair, David O’Connor. “She brings a wide-ranging perspective to the role and maintains strong relationships throughout Montana. As Big Sky rapidly grows into the world-class resort community it’s destined to be, Candace and her team will ensure the Chamber is front and center of the many issues that affect the business community.”
When tasked with hiring a new CEO, the Board of Directors took the opportunity to re-visit the Chamber’s goals and strategic direction. The group deliberated over the skills, background and characteristics that were critical for the next CEO to possess. The Big Sky Chamber has a unique role in the community. Throughout its history, the organization has often been looked upon as a resource for community vision and leadership. Over the years, along with its members, the organization has accomplished major feats. In the early 1990’s, members lobbied for and helped create the Resort Tax District, a wildly successful funding generator for the unincorporated community. Visit Big Sky, a collaborative effort amongst members to draw visitors, was formed in 2013. And most recently, the Chamber has been addressing the affordable housing issue, bringing all stakeholders to the table to create a plan for ensuring Big Sky is a place where people can work and live. After an exhaustive candidate selection process, the Search Committee feels that Candace possesses the necessary skills, foresight and leadership to guide Big Sky into its next chapter. 
"I am truly humbled to have been selected to be the next CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitor Bureau. The business of Big Sky, and the foundation for its economic development, is a healthy tourism industry. Right now, this industry is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth, which also means growing pains. To be the individual chosen to speak on behalf of the Chamber’s members and their employees, tourism stakeholders, our visitors, our residents, and our community as a whole, working in collaboration with our public partners during this transformation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” said incoming CEO, Candace Carr Strauss.
"My family and I have spent the past two years traveling all over Europe while living abroad,” continued Candace. “Yet, when I ask my children if they could be anywhere in the world, their answer is always, unequivocally, and without hesitation, Montana. We cannot wait to return home.”
The Chamber board of directors is thankful to have had fellow board member Britt Ide acting as the Interim CEO. She has kept the organization running smoothly, addressing key transportation issues and continuing to move the community discussion on affordable housing forward with the support of staff members Margo Magnant and Kristina DeVries.
Along with the new leadership, the board addressed gaps in the current staffing. They have assembled a team of professionals to serve the 450+ members with the resources and level of support demanded by a growing world-class resort area, while simultaneously providing leadership on important community issues. Amelia Smith is the new Marketing Manager and Lori Wetzel fills the Compliance Manager role. As the organization continues to experience record membership numbers, the Board of Directors understands that having a capable and skillful team in place is critical. 
Margo Magnant, Membership Director
(406) 995-3000