The Blanco Chamber of Commerce continues to grow, and the new executive director hopes to keep up the momentum. One of the goals of the annual Blanco Lavender Festival is to raise funds for a director at the chamber. With funds raised from the festivals, the chamber created the new, part-time, executive director position and hired Julie Dill, who was already filling the role on a volunteer basis, to do the job.
"The idea probably came up a couple of years ago," recalled President Jon Brieger. "As the chamber grew, it became more than the president and board could handle." Then-president Sue McFarlin wanted to work toward hiring an executive director, and planned that the Blanco Lavender Festival would pay for the position.
"We've reached a point now where the chamber has a lot of activities going on," Brieger said. "It's visible in the community, the Lavender Festival is growing, there are mixers, and all sorts of things going on. We needed someone to oversee that role." Office manager Pam Ridlehuber decided to retire and Julie Dill was slated to become chamber president.
"Because of her real interest and abilities, [Julie] has a feel for the whole thing," Brieger said. "We thought it would be a good time to try to do this." Although the chamber plans to make the position full-time in the future, Brieger said this was a good chance for both the organization and Dill to try out the executive director role.
Dill was hired by the board as a part-time executive director and Jon Brieger agreed to stay on as president for another year.
"I want to take the chamber to a whole other level," Dill explained, indicating the organization's role to promote Blanco and businesses, as well as providing member services.
The chamber will be looking to hire an administrative assistant next year, she said, for the office at 312 Pecan St. Right now, however, the Chamber of Commerce is actively seeking volunteers to help with tasks such as answering the phone and assisting visitors. The hours have been changed to 9AM to 1PM Monday through Friday, and the goal is to be open during business hours every day. The chamber is expecting even more growth with the Blanco Lavender Festival, adding more things to attract more people, said Brieger.
"It's become a lot more than one or two people can do over there," Brieger explained. "There are lots of calls for information."
"Pam [Ridlehuber] did very good work," said Dill, who is currently running the front desk since the retirement of office manager Ridlehuber. Additionally, Dill is assessing the activity of the office to see what abilities would best serve the organization, especially since she will be training the new hire and volunteers.
"This brings in all of my background," said Dill. She worked on the management team of her father's company in Austin for 15 years, serving as CEO for two. Dill's resume also includes business consulting for dental practices and career coaching--which she has done for the last seven years and continues to do so.
The executive director's role is to carry out the strategic plan of the Chamber Board; their goals needed day-to-day leadership, Dill said. The job also allows Dill to use her skills with team-building and systems tracking to work toward something she believes in: building community.
"Julie's wonderful," Brieger stated. "She's got lots of energy, vision, and enthusiasm for the job. We have a new board with a lot of new members. There's a lot of good energy there, too. There's a lot of good enthusiasm."
"I love it," Julie Dill said. "'You're in your element,'" she says her husband Stanley told her.
The Dills have lived in Blanco since March 2006, moving from Austin, but they got married in Blanco 11 years ago. Melanie Van Aken was mid-wife when their daughter, Anna, was born.
"We came here, felt at home, and wanted to be involved," Dill recalled. She never wanted to be involved in Austin, but it was easy in Blanco. She asked the Chamber about how she could be involved in the Lavender Festival.
"There's something really special about this town," added Dill.
The Blanco Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers. If you'd like to help the Chamber, call 830-833-5101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.