Welcome Home, Mrs. Jones
Apr 26, 2016 02:19PM
By Jason Huddle
Barbi Jones has lived in Cabarrus County for the past 18 years. She is an honorary native, if you will. Her resume screams non-profit and public service, having served as director for the Cabarrus branch of the United Way and then being promoted to oversee the Central Carolinas region. She knows just about every power player and mover/shaker in the area. So, when the opportunity arose for her to come back and work in the county she loves so much, for the Chamber of Commerce she believes in wholeheartedly, the decision was simple and quick. Now, Jones finds herself as the newest, and first female, President and CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, and she couldn’t be happier.
Although this is her first role heading a chamber, as opposed to a traditional non-profit like United Way, Jones says it all comes down to relationships. “The chamber helps small businesses connect to resources they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explained. And she has a history of bringing people together. “You have to when you work for a non-profit,” she laughed. “We are five municipalities, but one community.”
Being the first woman to run the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce gives her a different perspective on its direction, she added. “Women tend to handle things differently – for good or bad,” she said. “I want to be effective but fair.” In any case, Jones says she envisions a “successful and more relevant” chamber in the coming months and years.
Of course, a leader is nothing without her team and Jones says she’s thrilled to be coming on board with so much talent on staff. Deb Carter, who was Jones’ first contact with the chamber several years ago when she inquired about the Leadership Cabarrus program, serves as Vice president of Advocacy. Carter is often attributed to saying, “We (the chamber) make things happen that people think just happen on their own”. “Deb brings a wealth of experience to the team,” Jones said of Carter. “She is so well-respected for the she has done through the years.”
Paige Jordan is the Senior membership Relationship Executive. “She is bright personable and is quick to help when needed,” Jones said of Jordan. “I’m thoroughly impressed.”
Marketing and Membership Director, Chemin Duffey is another “bright light” on Jones’ team. “She is a wonderful teacher that gives a younger perspective,” Jones said.
With such a talented and capable team, it didn’t take Jones long to hit the ground running when she took over her new role on April 1. Almost immediately, Chamber members started receiving a survey in their email boxes asking for suggestions on how the Chamber could improve and what services were important to them. The results of those surveys are still being evaluated, but Jones said the overall message is clear. “Members want networking, networking and more networking.” This fits right in with Jones’ plans to start a young professionals group soon and promote and era of “diversity and inclusion” under her leadership.
Jones says she plans on this being her last job before retirement, “many years from now.” and she hopes that her legacy will be one where the Chamber saw growth due to satisfied members, the non-profit community having a more solidified relationship with the business community and a membership base that reflects the diversity of the region.
At the end of the day, Jones says this chamber – her chamber – is about you. “The Chamber is not about our staff. Our chamber is about our members and our community.” So, while she’s happy to be home, Barbi Jones is more excited about the road ahead.
Article and photos by: Jason Huddle