Two longtime staffers are leaving the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce.
Larry Plasek, who for the last 16 years has worked part-time as the chamber’s director of communications, said he is retiring to spend more time with family. Director of Events and Operations Jill Johnston, who served in that full-time role for the last five years, is leaving the organization to take a job closer to her home in Splendora, according to board chairperson Teresa Nicolas-Briggs.
The departure of Johnston and Plasek will be effective Friday.
“We’re very sad, but we understand why,” Nicolas-Briggs said.
The chamber, which serves hundreds of businesses in the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas, has been without a president since it mutually agreed to part ways with Louie Gill in May. He had been hired last December.
With the departure of Johnston and Plasek, Nicolas-Briggs said the chamber is left without any staff members, although she and other board members continue to serve. Nicolas-Briggs said in an email to members earlier this week that she is the organization’s primary contact for the time being at 713-861-6735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicolas-Briggs said the chamber remains on solid footing, even though it hasn’t been able to host any in-person events since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been holding weekly meetings on Zoom, and Nicolas-Briggs said the chamber is in the process of hiring an interim president who could be in place as early as next week.
“We will continue operating and hopefully adding more events,” she said.
Plasek said he worked in advertising, marketing and communications for 40 years before joining the chamber in 2004. He said leaving is “bittersweet,” but the decision was based on a need to see more of his family.
Plasek said he has a great-grandchild he has not yet met because of the pandemic.
“I had a lot of fun working at the chamber,” he said. “I have a love for the chamber. I want it to continue to grow and prosper.”