Former Maitland Chamber director reacts to layoff

Maria Simmons joined the Maitland Chamber of Commerce executive director in July 2011.

Maria Simmons joined the Maitland Chamber of Commerce executive director in July 2011.

Sarah Wilson

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The former executive director of the Maitland Chamber of Commerce says she was shocked to learn of the Chamber’s strained finances in early July, leading to her position being eliminated weeks after.

“It was a surprise to me, I didn’t know. I really had no idea,” said Maria Alvarez-Simmons, who did not return a request for comment before press time for the July 26 article “Cash-strapped Chamber lays off new director.”

She said that as executive director, she was not aware of the organization’s budgetary issues or that her job was in jeopardy until board members approached her in early July.

Read Maria Alvarez-Simmons’ farewell letter here. If you missed last week’s story about the Chamber, click here.

Prior to the announcement, she said she was considering moving on from her position with the Chamber on her own accord, saying the hours of the job were beginning to be too much.

“I enjoyed my time with the Chamber very much, but I missed my family and it would be nice to be around the house more too,” she said. She’s also working to found an event planning and public relations firm.

Simmons said there is no bad blood between her and the Chamber, and that she will continue to remain available as a board member and resource for the organization as they need her. She said she’s hopeful that the Chamber will make it through these “growing pains,” and come out the other side better off.

“I had a great time with great members … but maybe this is all working out for the best,” she said.