Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce director retiring


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park-River Forest Executive Director Jim Doss told the Wednesday Journal on Friday that he is stepping down from his role after 12 years in the post.

Retirement isn't a word Doss really knows, since he technically was retired when he took the job as the chamber's director a dozen years ago. He'd taken an early retirement buyout from the Park District of Oak Park where he'd served as a longtime superintendent.

Doss formally announced his retirement from the chamber at the Business After Hours event at Rush Oak Park Hospital on Tuesday, March 12.

"It's been my privilege," Doss said in a phone interview. "But it's time to pause for a while and enjoy what's next."

His role will be filled by an interim director, who was also set to be announced at Tuesday's event. The announcement missed Wednesday Journal's print deadline and information about the new director will be available on OakPark.com on Wednesday.

"We're gonna miss him. He has been an unbelievable resource with so many members in our business community," said John Lawrence, president of the chamber. "There will be big shoes to fill."

Lawrence noted Doss' enthusiasm and positive working relationships as two qualities that he brought to the table. Doss departs from his post in two weeks on March 22.

Looking back, Doss acknowledges the slew of challenges the chamber has faced —declining membership and loss of revenue that came with the tough economic times — but he's optimistic about recent changes and opportunities created through the organization. This includes an updated website, offering a monthly membership payment option and more business promotion, for example.

Doss has also witnessed a lot of leadership change in the chamber's president role; there have been eight presidents in his 12 years.

A big change came two years ago when the chamber moved into its new space, where Doss was able to negotiate better rent based on the group's nonprofit status. Doss said more recently the chamber has found its niche with small businesses. Events have also been on the rise, like the Business After Hours, which has a waiting list.

Doss said he's thankful for the chamber staff and members and will miss the job immensely. He hasn't decided what's next for him, but knows he'll keep active in the community.

"It's going to be a good opportunity for me to slow down a little bit. I still don't know exactly what I'm going to do," he said. "I will volunteer in organizations in town. I do want to pay back the community."

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Werner Huget from Oak Park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 12:35 PM

Jim, you will be missed. You are leaving giant shoes to fill. Without your hard work, dedication and professionalism amidst early-on adversity this chamber would not be in the solid position it is in today. You have set the bar very high, my friend. I wish you the very best in your retirement. I know that you will not let any grass grow under your feet. Your friend always, Werner Huget

Ginna from Chicago  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 4:01 PM

Jim: It's been such a pleasure working with you and getting to know you! Best wishes for whatever comes next. And, may you play lots of baseball. Ginna

Matt Baron from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:49 AM

Jim is a class act--so welcoming and encouraging when I joined the chamber in 2005, and a bundle of energy that is not found in people half his age. I know he will continue to make a significantly positive impact on the community--and that I can still count on him for an impromptu game of catch.

June Stout from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 5:02 PM

Dear Jimmy, you are so humble & never one to toot your own horn, so let me do it for you; you are so kind and generous with your knowledge and time and you have been a valuable source for me whenever I needed information; you have always been the "go to" person. Congrats and Best of Luck!

Shawn Sobczynski from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2013 12:57 PM

Congratulations on your 2nd retirement, Jim! Thank you for all your help and we will miss you.

Pat Davis from Oak Park  

Posted: March 10th, 2013 12:19 AM

Jim, it has always been a pleasure to chat with you about business, our families, and the environment. Whatever new path you are following, I wish you the best.

Jim Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 5:34 PM

Thanks for all those years of dedication to our business community, Jim. Thanks also for your tireless support of nonprofits such SEOPCO. Your enthusiasm was (and still is) infectious!

Holly from Chicago  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 11:16 AM

I am really going to miss you Jim! We enjoyed your visits to the Visitor Center. We will miss you dearly.

Suzanne Vestuto from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 7:40 AM

Jim, Thanks much for all you have done for the Village! Both in the Park District & the Chamber of Commerce, as well as your own volunteering. Enjoy your new adventures!!

Ellen Barnard Plourde from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 9:40 PM

Jim, hope you will still be able to deliver the DAVY award at the 40th Day in Our Village in June! No one can do it quite like you. Congratulations and all the best to you!!!!!

Poppy Vogel  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 8:31 PM

Jimmy Doss- you have been a friend and a mentor for too many years. I wish you well!

Craig Peterson from La Grange Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 8:16 PM

Jim, job well done, thanks for all you have done for the chamber and local business! Now get to work on that fastball and watch out for that 3-1 slider...

Carmelo from Volvo of Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 6:23 PM

Thanks Jim for all the support from the Chamber and for all the support working with Volvo of Oak Park and the community! You will be missed! Hope to still see you involved in and around Oak Park! - Carmelo

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 6:20 PM

Hi JIm Congrats on retirement #2. Thanks for all the help you have given me over the years. You have been a friend! See you around the village. Best Regards, John

Lee Balgemann from River Forest  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 5:54 PM

Jim, Thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of the Chamber. Your contagious smile and energy have been an inspiration to me for years. We'll miss you!

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