Prince George's Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen M. Smith has quit after four months on the job, citing the chamber's "tenuous" finances as a main reason for her resignation.
Smith confirmed by phone yesterday that she resigned Sunday but said she would not comment further, calling it "a private matter between the board and me." The chamber's chairwoman, Michelle Moone, did not return phone calls. Ralph Bozilio, the immediate past chairman, said Smith resigned but declined to comment pending a formal announcement by the business group.
A source familiar with the Lanham-based chamber's operations, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying the matter was private, said that Smith e-mailed her resignation to board members Sunday. In the letter, she listed her accomplishments since joining the chamber in June, but said she was not fully informed of the "tenuous financial condition" of the chamber when she was hired. Had she known, the letter said, she would not have accepted the job.
The source, who is familiar with the chamber's finances, said the 900-member business organization is not in dire financial trouble. "It's making payroll, it's making ends meet," the source said. "The problem is there's no cushion. The message she's conveying is that she felt it didn't have a strong enough financial position for her to be effective."
According to tax filings, the chamber had revenue in 2003 of about $870,000. Like other local chambers, its operating costs are not covered by its membership dues, and it depends on a combination of event fees and corporate grants. Dues run from $275 a year for sole proprietorships to $5,000 for the largest companies.
Smith, of Baltimore, is a career nonprofit organization executive who previously owned her own nonprofit executive consulting firm. The board selected her from more than 200 applicants to replace Wendi Williams, who resigned for personal reasons after a five-year run.
Smith assumed the presidency of the 81-year-old organization during a challenging period. In recent years competition has grown for membership and event attendance, with small, upstart chambers in Prince George's targeting small and minority-owned businesses.