After 32 years with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (GSCRA), Marianne Virgili has announced that she will retire from her position as President and CEO at the end of 2017.
Virgili stated, “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with the most dedicated civic leaders and talented staff over the course of three decades. These visionaries encouraged me to dream big for myself and the organization. Any success that I’ve enjoyed is due to them.”
GSCRA Board Chair Ian Exelbert said, “During Marianne’s tenure the GSCRA earned dozens of accolades including a Daily Points of Light Award from President Bill Clinton and being named the National Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in 2013. The chamber has also racked up more than two dozen national awards of excellence for print and electronic publications. It’s these promotional efforts that have helped garner dozens of community awards including “Most Fun Town in America,” “One of 8 Best Places to Retire,” and one of America’s best small towns. We may have a small budget and live in rural Colorado, but in the chamber, community development and tourism industries, the GSCRA is a player.”
Virgili started as Special Events Director for the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce in 1985 and produced Strawberry Days, which has grown significantly in attendance and stature over the past 32 years. In 1987 she was promoted to Executive Director. In 1989 when the city and community tourism functions merged with the chamber of commerce, the new organization was named the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Virgili was appointed as its first President & CEO.
Virgili stated, “The formation of the GSCRA was a gamechanger for us and the community. Despite limited resources, my team leveraged talent, determination and partnerships to establish Glenwood Springs as a top Colorado tourism destination. Tourism is the economic engine of Glenwood Springs, and the chamber is the driver.”
She added, “Tourism is what we are known for because you can’t ignore over 1M people a year visiting your town. But what people may not know is that the chamber’s Community on the Move Committee (COM) has passed every major civic and tax initiative in the past three decades.”
Past Board Chair and a 25-year volunteer leader of COM Michael McCallum commented, “I look around our City and see all of the improvements over the last 3 decades with great pride. Marianne and the chamber provided the expertise and were the driving force to pass ballot measures for the amenities we deserve and enjoy. West Glenwood streetscapes, sidewalks and lighting; the raw water delivery system; city hall; the community center; the municipal operations center; trails; parks; schools; the fire station and equipment; transportation; arts; the Glenwood Springs Historic Society; and the formation of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have all benefited significantly from Marianne’s efforts. She continually impressed the community with her healthy attitude that became contagious for us all.”
He added that these improvements would not have happened without Virgili’s ability to cultivate partnerships and bring together coalitions of people with diverse concerns and agendas. He said, “Collaboration was essential from Colorado Mountain College, Valley View, local governments, the DDA, the Glenwood Hot Springs, the business community and tourism industry.
“Glenwood Springs being designated ‘Best Small Town in America,’ -- Virgili’s finger prints are all over that little gem! I do not know what Marianne’s next endeavor will be, but I want to be involved because I admire her, she makes it easy and fun, and you’d better believe it will have impact!”
One of less than 500 people who have ever earned the Certified Chamber of Commerce Executive designation (CCE), Virgili has been in active in state and national organizations. She served as President of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives on the boards of the Western Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and national Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives; was national chair of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management and is a member of the U.S. Chamber’s prestigious Committee of 100. She formed the Glenwood Springs Film Commission and was appointed by the Governor to the boards of the Colorado Film Commission and Colorado Creative Industries.
Regarding future chamber leadership, Exelbert said, “Marianne let the board know of her long-term retirement plans several months ago and our Succession Planning Committee has been working on a smooth transition for the past year. We will make an announcement at our annual meeting this Saturday, October 21 at Morgridge Commons.”
Virgili said, “Thirty years is a long time. I started at the chamber during the Oil Shale Bust; worked with FEMA after natural disasters like the Coal Seam Fire; celebrated election victories; helped entertain thousands of people at Strawberry Days; and applauded outstanding businesses and leaders with community awards. Now, with the completion of the largest construction project on the Western Slope in 25 years, the future for the chamber and community is bright. It’s a perfect time for the transition of leadership.”
Virgili’s retirement celebration will take place at the chamber’s annual gala on Saturday evening, January 27, 2018 at the Hotel Colorado.
The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association was named 2013 Chamber of the Year by ACCE!