Longtime Grand Lake Chamber Director Samantha Bruegger steps down to focus on advocacy work
After spending six years with the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, longtime Executive Director Samantha Bruegger is stepping down from her post at the end of this week.
Bruegger announced her departure to the community and chamber’s membership early last week.
“I have submitted my resignation and my last day of work with the chamber is Friday, March 1,” Bruegger said in a statement via email. “I am so grateful for the opportunity that the chamber gave me to pursue my career, while residing in a mountain town that I will continue to call home.”
Bruegger’s resignation was prompted by her decision to take a new position that was more in line with her formal education working background prior to joining the chamber. Beginning this year, Bruegger will be working remotely as a full-time employee of the nonprofit environmental advocacy organization WildEarth Guardians. Bruegger, who has a master’s degree in public policy from Pepperdine University with a focus on environmental policy, will be working as that organization’s wildlife coexistence campaigner.
“I will get to work in a field that I am passionate about, full-time,” Bruegger said. “I will be working to end the U.S. Wildlife Service’s use of lethal methods to manage wildlife and encouraging them to use nonlethal methods for management.”
Bruegger said much of her new role would revolve around educational campaigns and other efforts to create public awareness and advocacy for non-lethal means of wildlife management. Because Bruegger’s new role allows her to work remotely, she said she and her family, including her husband and young son, will remain in Grand Lake.
It was a comfortable move for Bruegger, who indicated that the chamber’s current secure financial position was a factor in her decision to take a new job.
“I think the chamber is in a strong place now to continue the good work we have done over the last six years,” she said. “I came in after a tough streak for the chamber. We had some issues. But we are financially healthy now and have really grown our grant income. Our membership has continuously grown and we are becoming the pillar of the community that I hoped the chamber would become. I feel like I am leaving them in a place of strength.”
After Bruegger’s final day this week, the chamber’s current marketing director, Emily Hagen, will take on the role of interim director. From there, Bruegger said the chamber would be searching for a permanent replacement, with hopes to hire a new director before the start of the summer tourism season.
Looking back at her tenure, Bruegger said she is proudest of the success she has had bringing the chamber back onto solid financial footing. Looking ahead, she said she believes there are several fundamental philosophical questions the chamber needs to determine for its long-term success.
“Are we a destination marketing organization, a chamber of commerce, or a combination of both?” Bruegger asked. “I think they are in a good spot to decide where to go next.”
Born and raised in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Bruegger moved to Grand County in 2013 and shortly after began working as marketing director for the Grand Lake Chamber. She was selected as executive director later that year.
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