Gord Johns announced his resignation from the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce last week ending a successful four-year reign as its executive director.
“I’ve had some unique things presented to me recently that I need to consider,” he told the Westerly News.
“If I want to participate in being a part of greater change then it’s time for me to take some risks and play it on the wire and, in the coming months, I’ll be unveiling some of the considerations that I’m taking that will definitely put me out playing on the wire.”
He said he is excited to push himself and take on new challenges.
“If you want to have an impact in change you need to challenge yourself and push yourself and I felt like I’d done that here and I was ready to take it to the next level,” he said. “To push myself and challenge myself to do better for the community and our region and to see if we can take what we’ve done here and bring it to a larger audience and continue to motivate and make positive change.”
John’s resignation will take effect on June 30 and while he is excited at his future opportunities he spoke highly of the job he’s leaving behind.
“It’s been the greatest job I’ve ever had and that’s because the (chamber) board has allowed me to make it the greatest job I’ve ever had. Their creative and innovative ideas have allowed me to be able to work really hard on behalf of them and have some success,” he said.
The Tofino chamber received ‘Honourable Mention’ for 2013’s
BC Chamber of the Year meaning it placed second out of 130 province-wide chambers and Johns said the award marked the highlight of his tenure.
He said it was an honour to be part of the Tofino chamber’s 85-year legacy.
“I don’t think there’s an end here, I think it’s a continuum and it’s an exciting time,” he said. “To be part of that continuum has been an honour and a pleasure.”
Johns will hand over the chamber’s reins to his current assistant and former Westerly News reporter Jen Dart.
“It’s a daunting prospect to take over Gord’s role, especially because of the amazing energy he brought,” Dart told the Westerly. “Tough shoes to fill but great shoulders to stand on because he has been really instrumental in my involvement with the chamber over the years. He’s a very inspiring person to work with and I hope I can do it half as well as he did.”
Dart was hired as the chamber’s communications and membership services assistant in December 2013.
“We hired her with the idea and the hope that she would be the next executive director when we felt the time was right,” Johns said. “Her skill set is very strong, she’s very organized and she’s got great energy.”
Dart will officially become the chamber’s new executive director on Sept. 1. “The goal of the chamber is to help businesses thrive in any way we can so that’s going to be my focus,” Dart said. “We have a really outstanding community of entrepreneurs and my goal is going to be to help them flourish.”
The chamber’s board is hashing out strategies to fill the assistant position Dart is graduating from.
Emotional last luncheon The chamber’s last luncheon of 2014 was held at Darwin’s Cafe
last week and an emotional Johns told chamber members his passion for Tofino still runs deep and he will serve as an advisor and friend to Dart and she steps into her new role.
“I need you to show patience and to be understanding as Jen takes this role on,” he said. “To help her and give her the energy that she needs for our community to be even better.”
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne thanked Johns for inspiring Tofino’s business community.
“Gord has had a huge role in literally transforming the chamber over the last four years,” she said, “doubling the membership, building the budget, and building so many programs that have extended so many fingers and tendrils not only throughout this community but across Vancouver Island and right across the country.”
Osborne said she had been awed watching Johns’ networking skills in action at various workshops and conferences.
“One of the phrases that I heard recently when somebody was talking about Gord was he’s a real ‘people whisperer’ and isn’t that the truth,” she said. “Gord has an extraordinary ability to bring out the best in people and to bring them together and network them like no one could believe.”
Don Travers, who served as chamber president when Johns was hired four years ago, said Johns’ high energy “ballooned the chamber until we just about burst with initiatives.”
Travers thanked Johns for his energetic commitment.
“You made me look good, it was so easy to look good you just did everything with our board in support,” Travers said.
Travers welcomed Dart to her new role and offered encouragement for a successful tenure. “You’re not filling Gord’s shoes, you’re going to come in with your own skill set (and) your own expertise,” he said. “You maybe are not a people whisperer…but you’ll bring your own expertise…we’re looking forward to seeing where we go next.”