Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce didn’t have to look far for its new president.
Cindy Frey, a former executive with the Columbus Area Visitors Center, was chosen because of her passion for the community coupled with her experience in and understanding of cooperating with other groups, according to Charlie Farber, the chamber’s board chairman.
The Columbus woman will begin her new job March 25. She will succeed interim president Tim Cooney, who will become membership director.
During his interim leadership, Cooney, president of Advantage One Color Lab Inc., has worked half-days to focus on member recruitment and retention.
Name: Cindy Frey
Title: President of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, effective March 25
Lives in: Columbus, since 1996
Previously worked for: Columbus Area Visitors Center, Leadership Bartholomew County, Community Education Coalition, Cummins Inc.
Community involvement: Frey served on boards of Foundation for Youth, Columbus Area Arts Council, kidscommons, Columbus in Bloom and the Women’s Giving Circle at the Heritage Fund
Former chamber president Jack Hess stepped down last fall to head the newly created Institute for Coalition Building.
Under Hess’ leadership, the Columbus chamber was named state chamber of the year in 2008 and the National Chamber of the Year in 2009 by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.
A committee selected three finalists from among 12 candidates, Farber said. Four community leaders, including some non-chamber members, chose Frey, former associate director of the Visitors Center.
“Her passion for making this a better community ... just really shines through,” Farber said Wednesday.
Lynn Lucas, Frey’s former boss at the Visitors Center, said Frey played an instrumental role in boosting local tourism efforts, especially by employing social media and other technology.
Beyond her marketing skills, Lucas said, Frey also has extensive connections locally and statewide.
“I think that’s a great strength,” Lucas said.
She said Frey took the lead on the city’s America in Bloom contest, which the city won in its size category in 2006. Frey also played a leading role when CBS visited Columbus to film its “Sunday Morning” show in 2011.
Frey said that her previous roles in Columbus — with the Visitors Center, the Education Coalition and Leadership Bartholomew County, with Cummins Inc.’s corporate responsibility group — all involved enhancing the city’s quality of life.
Frey ran for Columbus City Council in 2003, calling it a great experience because she met a lot of people through her grass-roots campaigning and gained a lot of respect for elected officials.
Her combined eight years at the Visitors Center gave her a unique perspective on the city, Frey said, allowing her to see how outsiders view Columbus.
“It’s a very special place,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place, (but) what’s special about Columbus runs much deeper.”
The people who are involved in the community strive for greatness, Frey said, and good is not good enough.
Frey said she looks forward to working with local businesses, which provide a strong foundation for the Columbus community.
The chamber has about 600 members, down about 9 percent from 2009 but essentially steady in the past two years.
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