Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Shanon Davis’ name.
The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce will welcome a new leader, but not a new face, to the team this summer.
Shanon Davis, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, is set to replace current Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tami Murray when she leaves to join the Kenai Watershed Forum. Murray served at the chamber for six years, the last two of which she spent as director.
Davis is no stranger to the chamber, either. She worked there for three years in the early 2000s as the visitor center coordinator. From there, she moved on to the marketing council, where she has served as executive director for the last 12 years. It’s that experience she’ll bring with her that Murray said will be a boon to the Soldotna Chamber.
“She’s going to be a wonderful asset to the chamber itself,” Murray said of Davis. “… I don’t think they could have found a better candidate.”
Murray recalled several programs and events that have been expanded or brought on during her time with the chamber. These include the Frozen River Fest, which the chamber took over for the first time this year, and the Peninsula Winter Games, which Murray said have greatly expanded since their beginnings.
Overall, though, the chamber’s mission has remained steadfast and steady over the years, Murray said.
For her part, Davis is looking forward to continuing the work on a major undertaking for the organization, the possibility of a new visitor center building.
“One of the main reasons that I was really interested in going back, is the chamber has been working for as long as I can remember … on getting a new visitor center built,” she said.
Murray said staff at the chamber are currently in the midst of an agreement with the city of Soldotna, in which they have five years to come up with a plan for the new center. The chamber is in the process of forming a 501c3 to gain nonprofit status, as this will open up other funding possibilities, she said.
Davis said the vision for a potential new center includes adjacency to Soldotna Creek Park, so that people who attend events and activities there have the visitor center right at their fingertips. A new center would also, ideally, include conference and meeting spaces, she said.
“We just don’t have anything in this area that suits a convention of 300 people, so if we could build that here in Soldotna, it could have impacts for the whole peninsula,” Davis said.
As for Murray, she’s volunteered with the Watershed Forum for years and said it was just the perfect time for her to move on and into that organization. She’ll serve as the forum’s development director after a period of transitioning Davis in at the chamber.
“I’ve loved it here at the chamber, for sure,” Murray said, though she knows the organization will be in good hands with Davis and the rest of the current staff.
Murray also plans to stay involved in volunteering at the chamber, and hopes to possibly get on the organization’s board of directors.
Davis, a lifelong Soldotna resident, said she looks forward to the transition and plans to see things through at the marketing council before she leaves. She’s excited to work with the general public and members of the community through the chamber, which she said is her favorite thing about the city.
“The best thing about Soldotna is the community, the people here,” she said. “They’re phenomenal.”
Davis will serve her first day as the chamber’s director on June 12.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.