Nevada City Chamber of Commerce removes executive director position, effective Friday |

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce removes executive director position, effective Friday

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

The executive director position with the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, held by Cathy Whittlesey for 36 years, won’t exist after Friday.

In a press release last week, the chamber stated that the decision was based on the current economic situation, citing the cancellation of a majority of the chamber’s events this year as well as a decline in memberships and city taxes over the last four months. These factors are expected to continue worsening, potentially into 2021.

Whittlesey couldn’t be reached for comment after multiple attempts. Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Board President Gretchen Bond declined to comment other than to refer to the release.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful board members throughout the years as well as my coworkers and 22 office volunteers who kept the chamber open seven days a week,” Whittlesey said in the release, adding that she will miss being a part of the activities that make Nevada City a vibrant town.

Nevada City Vice Mayor Duane Strawser commended Whittlesey on her contributions to Nevada City during her time with the chamber, crediting her with the major success of the yearly Victorian Christmas and Summer Nights celebrations, as well as widespread promotion of the city as the setting of Hallmark’s “The Christmas Card.”

Councilman Doug Fleming said that at Bond’s request, the council at its Aug. 12 meeting will consider proclaiming a “Cathy Whittlesey Day.”

Strawser said the chamber has been in a difficult position as its efforts to remain operational are complicated by the realities of COVID-19, namely the decline in business and a closed visitors’ center as tourism is discouraged,

“I’m concerned, but it’s not that I don’t get it,” said Strawser. “If you don’t have the funding, you don’t have the funding, and the chamber is operating on a very fine line budget-wise.”

He expressed, however, that Whittlesey’s absence will be a great loss to the chamber.

“She’s been in place for 36 years, and anywhere in the state that’s pretty unheard of,” said Strawser. “Usually, a position like that is turned over every five or 10 years, because you have so many new boards elected with so many new personalities.”

“It speaks volumes, her longevity, on being able to do the job properly through all these years, through hundreds of different board members coming in,” he said. “There aren’t many people here that I think know the ins and outs both of the community and its events like her.”

In its release, the chamber board also announced that it would be “launching a restructuring of the organization to identify areas of competence, improvement, and potential fundraising opportunities,” beginning with each member taking on additional duties to keep the chamber operating.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at

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