New Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Elsey has an extensive background in media and marketing and a passion for promoting local business and tourism.
"I want to increase awareness about how great this community is," said Elsey. "I also want to expand on the things we have for children in order to bring younger families into our area and boost our full-time population.
"I want to do more for our current business owners and help fill our vacant spaces with new businesses," said Elsey. "I plan to focus on new growth while keeping the same spirit that we all love about this area."
Elsey has a business management and business marketing degree from Arizona State University. While earning her college education, Elsey worked for the City of Scottsdale, Ariz.
"I started at the public information desk and worked my way up to the mayor's office where I was in charge of publicity," said Elsey. "I helped start the art show and performing arts festival."
After earning her degree, Elsey secured a job at an advertising firm in Phoenix, Ariz. Not long after beginning the job, she was offered a media buyer position in Los Angeles, Calif., which she accepted.
"I loved it," said Elsey. "I got to visit the movie studios and meet all the celebrities, because I was the one buying media for the companies."
After Elsey married and had her two children, she left the media buying industry to spend more time with their kids. She worked part-time at the Orange County Register newspaper.
As her children got older, Elsey enrolled in a karate program with her youngsters. Then, she was hit with devastating news. She had cancer.
"I continued to take karate while I was going through treatment," said Elsey. "I got my brown belt during that time, and then two months after I finished treatment, I got my black belt."
During this time, Elsey and her husband divorced. Then, she had the opportunity to rekindle a relationship with a man she knew as a teenager, who was a divorced single dad. The two married and the couple with their five children returned to Arizona.
In 2006, Elsey and her husband were invited by friends to spend time at a vacation home in Shell Knob. Shortly before the vacation began, the home was flooded and Elsey and her husband volunteered to clean and make the repairs.
"We fell in love with the area," said Elsey. "We had raised all of our children, and they were doing great. We decided let's stay."
Elsey has spent the last few years working part-time for the Head Start program and local businesses. She has also been working to bring new business owners to the Shell Knob area.
"I want to see this area bloom," said Elsey. "The key to economic growth is businesses that support more job opportunities for people, but I want to make sure that growth is kept true to the Shell Knob lifestyle.
"We love the lake, and we are very blessed to have a little place on the lake," said Elsey. "I love the animals, the trees, the grass and the simplicity of the lifestyle. I also love that in Shell Knob there are so many people who want to help out. They have the spirit of helping and the desire to make the community great."
Elsey's other work experience includes teaching, graphic design and writing. She has published a book on graphic design.
In July, former Shell Knob Chamber Director Sheila House resigned from the leadership position in order to accept a management position at a new assisted living and memory care facility in Shell Knob.