While Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce Director Pat Hamilton heads into retirement — again — her replacement is settling into the office space at the Tannery Pond Community Center.
Lisa Salamon began working as the new chamber director in late January, getting some help from Hamilton during the transition. Hamilton, who retired from a state job before taking the position early in 2012, now plans to spend more time enjoying her retirement.
Salamon has been visiting her traditional log cabin on Minerva Lake with her family for years; it was their vacation home, away from the hustle and bustle of city life in West Chester, Pa., a county seat of 18,000 residents just outside of Philadelphia. So why move to the town of Minerva — population around 800 — in New York’s Adirondack Park?
“We had a second home here that we loved, and we were trying to spend more time here,” Salamon said. “We were going back and forth between two homes and said, ‘We love it so much here, why are we doing this?’”
So they moved here in August 2012. Almost empty nesters, the Salamons have two girls, one who’s a junior at Boston University and another who’s a college graduate living in Connecticut.
What’s their biggest adjustment from city life?
“I guess the hardest part for me — we’re finishing things in the house and finishing the garage — you have to be very organized in terms of your shopping and that sort of thing,” Salamon said. “Within 10 minutes of my house at home, there were probably eight grocery stores, a Lowe’s, a Home Depot. Everything was right there.”
Salamon has a long history of public relations work. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Boston University and attended the Advanced Management Program at Rutgers University.
From 1981 to 1990, she worked for Public Service Electric and Gas of New Jersey in Newark, starting out as an environmental specialist and moving her way through public information positions. From 1987 to 1990, she was the manager of nuclear public information, directing an in-house communication agency supporting the startup and operation of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants. She managed eight employees and a $1.7 million budget.
From 1990 to 1997, she operated Lisa Salamon Communications and was a consultant for utilities, the technology industry and non-profits.
From 1998 to 2003, she was the director of public relations at Genesis Health Ventures in Kennett Square, Pa. and was senior director of public relations for Genesis HealthCare from 2003 to 2007.
From 2008 to 2011, Salamon was vice president for program and franchise at Marsh & McLennan Co. (Philadelphia and Des Moines, Iowa).
Since 2011, she’s been operating Lisa J. Salamon Consulting and defines herself in her resume as a “results-oriented communications executive with diverse experience in nuclear, senior care and insurance industries as well as leading non-profit boards.”
So why take a job as the director of a small-town chamber of commerce?
“I’ve always been very community oriented,” Salamon said. “Even just the few months that I’ve been up here, I really missed it. So I really needed to dive head-long into the community pool. And I need to give back.”
Salamon also volunteers on the Minerva Emergency Services Committee.
“We’re so blessed in this country,” she said. “We have so many things. Whether it’s government or non-profits, you really need to give back. And this is my way of giving back and sharing the talents and the things I’ve been exposed to in my experiences in Pennsylvania with the community and the businesses.”
As for the Chamber itself, board members are spending some time this week at a retreat to set some goals and define their vision for the Chamber.
“This is a natural evolution of the board,” Salamon said. “The board of the Chamber has changed over the past couple of years and made larger, so it’s much more representative of the community at large. So we’re looking at what we can do for that larger community. And a lot of it hinges on tourism and getting more people in this area, but that’s not necessarily the only growth engine, so we need to hear from all the board members what’s important to this area, what’s important to our members.”
As for North Creek, the community is at a tipping point, for the better, she said. Salamon recently attended a meeting in Lake George with other chamber directors, and the Lake George and Bolton Landing representatives said their bookings are up 50-80 percent over last year because Hurricane Sandy damaged their vacation spots on the Jersey shore.
“Now that doesn’t exist,” Salamon said. “So the rentals aren’t there.”
The majority of the reservations in the Lake George area are from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“And they’re all saying Hurricane Sandy wrecked where I used to go, so I’m trying this area,” Salamon said. “So I hope to see a lot more people this year.”
Salamon is working part time at the Chamber, and she holds office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more information, call 251-2612 or visit online at www.gorechamber.com.