Since joining the Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce as its executive director in June, Dori Allen Grinder has worked to add programs and activities to rekindle community interest and build chamber membership. Her first task, she says, was to listen to members, community leaders and citizens. The leading concern she heard from constituents was a need for improved networking opportunities.
Grinder called together a group of female leaders, and after a few months of careful planning, she launched Working Ozark Women, with about 20 attendees at its inaugural meeting in November. Interest in the group has since grown.
“At our December meeting, we had more than 30 in attendance. On Jan. 4, we had 47 attendees,” Grinder says. “For our February meeting, we had a joint meeting with Working Women in Nixa and had more than 100 women in total attendance.”
The chamber has since added new members from among Working Ozark Women’s membership, and the group is just one example of what Grinder is doing to showcase the chamber’s role in making a positive regional impact.
“I am extremely proud that I have been able to bring the Ozark Chamber of Commerce to a new level of respectability in our community,” Grinder says. “The chamber had been in a slump for a couple of years, due to staff turnover, board fatigue and general disinterest. I have been able to meet with community leaders, listen to everyone’s ideas and take action.”
Grinder has further influenced the success of others by advising organizers of the Save Riverside Bridge Initiative in obtaining nonprofit status in order to begin fundraising for the preservationist group. She also encouraged them to meet with Service Corps of Retired Executives and Finley River Foundation to expedite the process.
“By having unique access to other regional, civic and business leaders, I am able to open the doors to cooperative projects that influence positive growth for the entire Ozarks region,” Grinder says, noting that organizers have established the Save Riverside Bridge Fund and fundraising has begun.
Involvement in civic affairs is an integral part of Grinder’s job. She shares ideas during Regional Chamber Executive Roundtable, which includes representatives of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, to strengthen economic development in the region and garner new ideas for Ozark. She also is called upon regularly to speak about the Ozark chamber in front of organizations such as Rotary Club and Kiwanis. She is involved in planning some ballot issues and organizing political forums to provide voter education about candidates and issues for chamber members.
“Not only is it my passion, it is my job to better our community,” she says. “I cultivate new ideas that help businesses grow. I develop and manage programs that have a direct and positive impact on the bottom line in Ozark.”Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.