After seven years with the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, executive director Laura Trotter has announced she will step down.
Trotter brought stability to the organization in 2016, when she became the chamber’s fifth executive director in less than two years. It was a “rocky” time then, she told the Hub, and now it’s a good time to transition.
“I’m ready to not be a public figure,” she said. “I want to have some opinions.”
Trotter has not set an end date, but she declared her intention to leave in the chamber’s newsletter Nov. 1 and told the Hub she let the board know she is ready to move on and is openly looking for a new position. Her announcement stated she will stay on until the position – being redefined as chamber president, to keep up with industry trends, she wrote – is filled.
Trotter said she solidified the chamber’s staff positions, allowing its board to focus on big-picture projects like educational activities, committees and programs.
Redefining a support role to handle tourism helped the chamber out of “crisis mode,” she said. The chamber hired Callie LaPoint for that events and visitor service manager role in September.
Now, for instance, neither the Victorian Holiday nor the Stoughton Art Walk are organized by the chamber. These were events with which the chamber had perceived control, but took no large part in, she said.
Trotter also said she brought stale events to life, such as the Great Expectations, a scholarship fundraiser at the Country Club. That became the city’s inaugural Wine Walk last month, and tickets sold out in one week.
Trotter executed the chamber’s first strategic plan, which outlines one-year and three-year goals for the organization. She had never seen a plan like this during her time at the Chamber.
“I don’t even know how long it has been,” she said.
Trotter, a Rockford native who has been living in Stoughton since 1998, had spent four years as the chamber’s visitor services director before leaving in January 2016. She returned to take the interim executive director role in April and took the permanent position two months later.
As an active volunteer and married to a former Kegonsa Elementary School principal, Fred Trotter, Laura Trotter joined the chamber in 2012 as the Syttende Mai coordinator feeling confident about her knowledge of the city. However, she told the Hub she learned a lot about the place she lives and the people in it.
After announcing her search for a new job, Trotter spent the weekend watching her children in the high school play. She said she will obviously still be a part of the city and see the people she has grown to know around town.
Her successor will have a different job title, with the board melding the executive director position and the president position. The current volunteer position of president will become the board chair.
Trotter hopes the new president will bolster membership, something she said was not her strength.
“We have about 50% of the businesses (in Stoughton) as members,” Trotter said. “ There is a huge amount of growth there, and I hope that person comes with that type of expertise and drive.”
She said she hopes the new public figure gets to know the community before attempting any sweeping changes.
“Being (at the chamber) for seven years, I’ve seen a lot of staff turn over,” she said. “It goes poorly if you go in without understanding the situation you are in. You can’t come in with 100% change; you have to understand your environment.”