Meet Catherine Ross, Executive Director Winter Park & Fraser Chamber
Catherine Ross has been in her role of Executive Director of the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber since 1996. One landmark project the chamber and their board have been working on for the last decade is building a permanent stage in Hideaway Park. The stage has been a vision for the town council since the music concerts at Winter Park Resort moved to Hideaway Park.
“The Town Council, a long time ago,” said Ross. “All those concerts are part of economic development for summer so we don’t want to lose it. They bought the park and used it as an amphitheater.”
Concerts and events are an economic driver to Winter Park. Now that the Town of Winter Park is in a better financial position they can build a permanent stage to continue the economic success from music and other activities. The permanent stage will start at the back of the current stage and will allow for 500 more people, Ross said.
What is a typical Friday for you and your staff?
Planning for a Friday starts on Wednesday, said Ross.
“We have operations meetings with partners for the weekend. The meeting includes Town of Winter Park staff, who work behind the scenes and people who make the event work,” she said.
“On Friday we start to implement the operations plan and hire extra staff to come on through the weekend.”
Friday is busiest day in Visitor Center so Ross and her staff must balance event operations and customer service.
“We move the box office out off the Visitor Center on Friday to give better customer service to the people coming in looking for things to do,” she said.
As the executive director, Ross views her role in the organization to follow the direction of the chamber board by putting together work plans. “The chamber board sets policy and goals for us to follow. We put together work plans, and they bless them.”
Then they get to work.
“I lead this team, not manage. This team manages themselves well. I’m blessed to have this team,” she said.
Favorite and least favorite parts of the job
The favorite part of her job is watching business owners thrive.
The last favorite part of her job?
“When we might make a misstep and don’t serve the community how we were hoping. We try to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
As the leader of the chamber Ross, she and her staff are able to develop strong partnerships and create positive synergy with the community .
“We are a part of the community coming together to make everybody stronger including nonprofits, schools and libraries. It is important that the chamber played a leadership role.
We don’t just look at sales tax, but ways to build a stronger community.”
With a team-based organization, and working closely with elected officials and business owners, Ross appreciates all the people and organizations that are behind all the work they accomplish.
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