New executive director of SML Chamber of Commerce takes over after 17 years

Chris Finley just finished first week on the job

Courtesy of Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce
Courtesy of Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce

Smith Mountain Lake – The Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce has a new leader at the helm for the first time in 17 years. Chris Finley just finished his first week as executive director.

Finley is taking on the position after Vickie Gardner retired from the role earlier this year.

In a one-on-one interview, Finley told 10 News he recently purchased an investment property at Smith Mountain Lake and plans to the make the position permanent.
Finley most recently worked as a communication's manager for BAE Systems, the defense contractor with Radford Arsenal, where he oversees all aspects of communications and community relations. Finley worked there for four years before joining the chamber.

From 2004 to 2015, he directed marketing programs for The Willard Companies, where he launched multiple award-winning campaigns to position Smith Mountain Lake as a premier vacation and relocation destination. 

"I'm excited. I am not going to deny that it's a bit overwhelming, but I'm up for the challenge. I do have big shoes to fill," Finley said referring to Gardner's longtime position. "It's exciting. It's rewarding. I worked here at Smith Mountain Lake for 12 years and it's nice to come home."
Finley said he plans on rebuilding staff within the Chamber of Commerce, as well as getting to know the needs of the business community. He said he plans on working with the board to make a new five-year strategic plan that will help build membership.

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