Chamber building

In a statement issued on February 16 with information about its plans for the year to come, the Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce released more details about the departure of its President last summer.

Lauren Odessa was removed from her position as president last August due to a “potential financial impropriety.” 

Litigation related to the matter is ongoing, according to the Chamber, but most damages have been repaid. The following was excerpted from the statement issued by the Chamber yesterday: 

“The Chamber is thrilled to celebrate the wins we had with the business community, but we also want to be transparent about our missteps. We announced in August the Board’s discovery of alleged financial misconduct of the President. At that time, we were asked not to speak about the matter publicly. As the months have passed, we’re realizing that perhaps we have not said enough. Please accept our sincerest apologies. The individual made a restitution payment that nearly paid the discrepancy in full and we are looking to recover the full loss. The case currently lies with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. We have cooperated fully with this investigation and complied with all requests.

It is important for you to know that we were deeply hurt by these actions which put our member’s investment in our Chamber in jeopardy. We immediately implemented controls to prevent anything like this from happening again. We take our fiduciary responsibility seriously and have enacted financial procedures and a new more secure Financial Control policy.

2020 also brought about the need for the Board to do some soul searching, exploring how the Chamber can best serve the Altavista Community now and in the future. In October, we partnered with a sister Chamber organization to complete a Board Retreat. This retreat helped us reconnect with and redefine our Mission and Vision statements, establish our priorities, and create focus and direction directly aimed at benefiting our members. We also have a Strategic Plan to be executed over the next three years. We have been working diligently to become a more process and control driven environment, and we are excited to announce that we are in the beginning stages of hiring a new Executive Director who will execute the new framework that we have created.”