Mary Ann Carson stepped down as the Cambria Chamber of Commerce Executive Director after nearly aquarter of a century. Photo by Jill Turnbow
Wednesday, June 30 marked the end of an era at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce as Executive Director Mary Ann Carson, stepped down.
“After 24 years, I’m ready for a break,” said Mary Ann.
Mary Ann and her husband, William, found Cambria on a road trip and moved in 1997 after he was offered ownership in a real estate company. Having spent several years running her own medical transcription business in Montana, Mary Ann’s business skills adapted easily to the job of managing the Chamber. “Besides,” she said, “I’ll never have to drive in snow or ice again!” She had only been in town about three weeks when she took the job.
“It really doesn’t seem like 24 years,” said Mary Ann. “The job constantly changes and every day there is a new challenge. It’s never dull.”
When Mary Ann first took the job, there was no internet, no QuickBooks, no website. She brought the Chamber into the digital world and continued to update their online presence. Just recently she helped develop the new website.
Oz Barron, Chamber vice-president and owner of the Ball & Skein, says “It’s astonishing what Mary Ann has accomplished over the years. She has done an incredible job and is just a delight to work with. This is a huge loss for the Chamber.”
When asked what Mary Ann enjoyed most about heading up the chamber, she credits the many volunteers that have passed through the doors over the years. “It’s been great getting to see these people every day. And to meet all the different people who stop in.”
The Cambria Chamber of Commerce is the information center for the entire community. Tourists as well as locals know they can stop in to find out everything they need to know.
“It’s a small town,” Mary Ann said. “One time we helped connect a visitor with someone they once knew, could only describe them, couldn’t remember their name, but we figured it out.
“Each year it seems the Chamber has new challenges to focus on. I have been here through floods, Hwy 1 closures, earthquakes, the water situation, and now a pandemic. You learn to roll with it.”
Businesses in Cambria are reassured that the Chamber continues to always work in their best interest. Mary Ann has been able to keep the doors open through the past year and a half, with no volunteers and no assistant. “It was a little easier because all of our events were cancelled. But the phone still rang, and people popped in.”
Mary Ann has a lot of pride in the events that the Chamber has organized over the many years. “We started the Cambria Art & Wine Festival, and everyone loves the Chili Cook Off and Car Show,” she said. “And I have just loved meeting and talking with the hundreds of people I have met in this job, from all over the world. This job requires you to constantly innovate and grow. It’s been great. But I’m ready to do a few things I’d like to do like travel, take a yoga class, maybe volunteer.”
She has done her fair share of travel, both personally and as part of the Chamber tours. “We were scheduled to go to Greece when the pandemic hit. Maybe I’ll still do that.”
Businesses and residents will miss her ready smile, her calm demeanor, and her enthusiasm for Cambria. Perhaps you can join her in a yoga class.