LEE -- If you see Barrie Elizabeth Ayars today, wish her a "Happy Birthday" and congratulations on a new job.
The 51-year-old Lee resident recently received an early birthday present, being named the new executive director for the Lee Chamber of Commerce, succeeding Danielle Mullen. Mullen left the part-time position about a month ago for a job at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, according to chamber president Bruce Singer.
On the job only two weeks, Ayars is quickly learning the inner workings of the chamber.
"The transformation has been tremendous," she said.
Ayars will oversee a 140-member business and civic organization dedicated to improving the commercial and residential climate of the Lee area. The chamber is best known for coordinating several annual celebrations such as Founder's Day weekend in late September and last month's Cabin Fever week of events.
Singer says Ayars was the chamber board's clear choice, following her interview as one of four finalists from a pool of 17 job applicants.
"When Barrie walked out of the room we knew she was the person we're looking for," he said.
A native of central Pennsylvania, Ayars has 15 years of business experience, mostly in the hospitality industry. She is currently seeking a master's degree in business administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.
Ayars moved to Lee from Mechanicsburg, Pa., three years ago, when her husband, Bryan Ayars, became the
For the first time last fall, Ayars was a volunteer for Founder's Day weekend, a three-day townwide festival that includes food, music, a Saturday parade and other activities
Ayars found the event similar to annual Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg, prompting her, in part, to apply for the chamber job.
"The energy is wonderful," she said. "The ‘Taste of Lee' is spectacular. Everything was just like back home."
Ayars is currently working closely with the chamber board to recruit new members, retain existing ones and find more volunteers. Membership includes inclusion in the chamber directory, on its website and receiving publicity through its visitors booth in the park near Town Hall.
"A sense of community and helping build up Lee, that's what we're all about," she said.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.