By Anna Lothson
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."
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