ALBANY, Ga. — Deborah Bowie, a top figure with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, submitted her resignation Thursday.
In an an email to chamber staff, board members and friends, Bowie talked about her time in Albany and her work at the chamber.
"I tendered my resignation today at the chamber. I wanted to personally reach out and tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of you and working alongside you in trying to effect change in Albany, Ga. It was nearly two years ago that you accepted an Alabama transplant into your professional circle to help steer the ship on public policy, advocacy, public relations and marketing … and what a great two years it has been," she wrote.
Bowie was the chamber's senior director of Public Policy and Communications. She said she's leaving the chamber to accept another opportunity in a setting where her son, who is autistic and nonverbal, can get the kind of intensive therapy he needs.
"Albany's been great. I can't compliment ARC enough, but he's done with their preschool this year so I've been looking for a while now at places where I can get him the treatment and care he needs to carry him through grade school and junior high and maybe high school," Bowie said. "Professionally, Albany has taught me a lot about my role. I've learned a lot and met a lot of great people, but it's time to move on."
Chamber President Chris Hardy called Bowie a valuable member of the team and an asset in her role.
“The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is grateful for Mrs. Bowie’s service to our chamber. Since joining our team nearly two years ago, she has been a valuable member of our team. During her time of service, she helped our chamber advocate on many issues of importance to the business community while serving as a key liaison to our annual Atlanta delegation visits and our annual Washington, D.C. fly-in that was just completed a few weeks ago," Hardy said in a statement to the Herald.
"Though we regret that she will no longer be a part of our team, we wish her and her family nothing but the best in her new venture. Deborah is an extremely talented individual, and I am confident she will continue to succeed in the future. I will be meeting with the chamber's Executive Committee over the next few days to determine the best course of action moving forward so that we continue to be the premier business advocate for Albany, Dougherty County and Southwest Georgia."
While Bowie's resignation comes just a day after it was announced that the chamber's accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had dropped from five stars to three stars, Hardy emphasized Thursday that her resignation had nothing to do with the findings from the U.S. chamber.
“I want to be clear: Mrs. Bowie’s resignation and the chamber’s accreditation are not related in any way," Hardy said. "The recommendations that we received from the U.S. Chamber regarding government relations had nothing to do with Mrs. Bowie’s work as our director of Public Policy; actually it was to the contrary.
"The recommendations received were strictly opinions from the U.S. Chamber on programs that they feel would make our Government Relations division that much more effective, though we are not convinced that all those recommendations fit our organization and/or community. At no time did any of the recommendations suggest our chamber has not been providing a high level of value and public policy effort on behalf of our members and the community. The U.S. Chamber has set criteria for all aspects of chamber operations; regarding Government Relations they suggested we add certain programs and efforts to our already existing body of work relating to public policy.
"Some of these suggestions involved budgetary concerns, and Mrs. Bowie provided our chamber and members with the highest value of service based on the budget she was allotted. Furthermore, there were services that Mrs. Bowie provided that went above and beyond what was asked of her beyond our published strategic plan and body of work. Any implications that the recommendations suggest that Mrs. Bowie’s work was anything less than exceptional is 100 percent false."