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    (THOMAS WALLNER | THE GRAHAM LEADER) Krisa De La Cruz (at right) presents a 2021 Food Truck Championship of Graham award for Best Signature Dish to the Pokey O’s cookies and ice cream food truck. De La Cruz, who has served as the Graham Chamber of Commerce and Graham Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO since 2015, will be stepping down from her position near the end of January.

Taking the next step: De La Cruz stepping down as CEO of chamber, CVB; chamber seeking applications for position

Six years ago Krisa De La Cruz accepted the position of Graham Chamber of Commerce and Graham Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO, and said as she prepares to leave the position at the end of January the community could not be left in better hands.

De La Cruz submitted her resignation last week which will be effective Monday, Jan. 24. She said the accomplishments and progress the organizations have made would not be possible without the help of the community and the staff at the chamber, CVB and city of Graham.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of growth over the last six years. (...) I think we’ve done incredible things at the chamber and the CVB. It’s been fun, it’s been challenging. I’ve been fortunate to have built some great relationships over the last six years (...) and it’s been rewarding too, because I really believe in what we do and I love Graham. Graham’s my home. It was my hometown growing up, but it’s my home now too and my children’s home. So it’s really important to me that this town stay viable and thriving, and a good place to live and raise a family. So it’s been rewarding in that way also. (...) I kind of got to a place where I felt (...) the Chamber and CVB are in a good situation as far as reputation, finances, programs and events,” De La Cruz said. “We have a great team here. Our Chamber Manager Lisa Kinkead is amazing. Same thing with our CVB Manager Casyn Smith, and Taylor (Stuteville), our administrative assistant. And then, of course, Grant (Ingram) is with (Graham) economic development now, but he’s still part of our team also. So I think we have a really good core team. We have great relationships with the city and the county. So we’re kind of in a position where we can continue to grow and thrive and do really good things in Graham, so I don’t have that hesitation of like, ‘Well, if I walk away will things fall apart,’ and (...) I don’t mean to say that (...) in any kind of self important type of way, but I know we’re in a good place somebody else can come in and really take it and run with it from here.”

The position originally became available in 2015 and former chamber and CVB CEO, Jennifer Conway, pushed De La Cruz to apply. Her former position at the government consulting firm based in Keller, Strategic Government Resources, had kept her on the move around the country and also away from her children, she said.

“The travel was really wearing on me. I love to travel, so it’s not that I don’t like traveling, but I like to travel with my family, not be away from my small children. So I interviewed, I put in my resume and my cover letter and then interviewed. I think we had two interviews and then I heard back and they offered me the position and prayed about it a lot, talked with my family, talked with some people I really trust and felt like it was the right thing for me and really have never looked back,” De La Cruz said. “It was the right thing and I have no regrets there whatsoever. It’s been a really good experience.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an adherence to virtual meetings for organizations in the country and also brought with it an opportunity for De La Cruz from her former employer.

“(...) my main role (when I originally worked) there was, I would go to different regions of the United States and meet with a group of city managers, or HR directors, or police chiefs, or whatever it may be, and (...) I would just facilitate the meeting. We’d talk about what issues are going on, (...), what new laws have come out that require some kind of (...) federal mandate that they need to adhere to, (...) so on and so forth, and just sharing of information just to benefit the whole. So it was really just more networking groups and I loved it. That’s so me, you know, I love people, I love talking to people, getting to know people, so it was a lot of fun. It was just a lot of travel, because I was going all over the US. And I tried (...) to do meetings back to back depending on which region of the of the United States I was in, so I’d be gone for a few days or so at a time. But since the pandemic, everything has kind of shifted more towards virtual and so that’s really where the window of opportunity opened, where I don’t know that I’ll be doing the exact same thing, but it’s just less travel because people are more accustomed to online meetings now. So it’s kind of a strange world we live in,” she said.

For the rest of the story, see the Jan. 5 edition of The Graham Leader.

The Graham Leader

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