Jason McFadyen is no longer the president of one of the largest — if not the largest — and most active organizations on Whidbey Island.
After serving three two-year terms, McFadyen wasn’t able to run for another term as president of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce because of a term limit written into the bylaws.
The chamber board recently chose Ronnie Wright of Pacific Grace Tax and Accounting as the new president.
McFadyen, a managing broker at Windermere Real Estate, was the president during a time of growth at the chamber.
The numbers tell the story. Membership doubled to more than 500. The number of community events doubled. The budget doubled to about $500,000 million a year. The chamber was awarded more than $225,000 in annual grants. More than 20 “ambassadors” volunteer to help run chamber events.
In addition, membership services tripled over the last six years.
McFadyen doesn’t take credit for the positive change, but points to Director Christine Cribb and her staff.
“They do all the work,” he said.
The president’s job, McFadyen said, is to run the luncheon, attend ribbon cuttings and welcome new businesses. The president, along with the board, sets the direction for the organization.
McFadyen said he was thrilled that Cribb shared his vision for the chamber, which is simply “to make it something the community would be involved in and members excited about.”
Plenty of excitement happens at the monthly luncheons, which are an invaluable part of the chamber. Being in a room of 250 business people excited to be there is a perfect place to make connections.
“Networking and relationships,” he said. “That’s what business is to me.”
Annual speakers at the luncheons include the mayor, the school superintendent and state and federal lawmakers. The chamber hosts candidate forums when there are contested local races. Some of the luncheons are less serious, such as when the high school choir sings for the crowd at Christmas time.
The chamber runs many of the events in town, most notably the Holland Happening celebration. New Year’s Eve fireworks is a newer and very popular event. Crab Cakes and Cocktails is growing in popularity, McFadyen said.
In a message to members, Wright made it clear that he’s not looking to change the direction of the organization.
“As incoming president,” he wrote, “my goal is to continue to promote, retain and grow membership, along with continued community partnerships and involvement. In keeping with the chamber’s vision and mission statements, I want to be an advocate who empowers and connects members through achievement of their business goals, while also serving and promoting the business interests of greater Whidbey Island.”
As for McFadyen, he will remain on the chamber board, but he admits he will miss being president.
“It was time well spent and time I was happy to spend,” he said.
“I would do it again in a heart beat. I loved it,” he added.