St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jennifer McCurdy announced her retirement on Tuesday.
After 13 years with the Chamber, McCurdy decided to step back from her position at the end of the year for personal reasons.
“COVID-19 has made me re-evaluate my priorities and I want to devote more time to my family,” McCurdy said in an emailed statement to the Gazette.
“I will be stepping down at the end of the year. We will continue to focus on providing the much needed support to our businesses.”
McCurdy has held the top executive position at the Chamber for the past three years after serving as member services director and vice-president of operations.
She helped build solid relationships between the city’s economic development department and local businesses, said board chair Margaret Mrazek, elevating the Chamber's presence in the community.
“She never, never stopped thinking about, ‘What could the Chamber do? Where can we help our members?' And that was her whole modus operandi, if you will,” Mrazek said.
“She's just been a delight to work with as the chair. I couldn't have asked for anybody better for the presidency than Jennifer to try and meet all the challenges we had to meet.”
McCurdy’s leadership and hard work was instrumental in leading the Chamber and St. Albert’s business community through the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrazek said.
When the virus first descended upon the province, local businesses had to grapple with constantly changing information, closures and uncertain futures.
“Our number one priority throughout this pandemic has been to support our businesses whether it was through helping them navigate access to the government programs, promoting their changed business models, helping them figure out how to reopen safely and advocating to government,” McCurdy wrote.
Fighting to ensure local businesses had what they needed to weather the storm, McCurdy was unafraid to try new things or take on the heavy workload required to make it happen, Mrazek said.
“We know our business community really suffered during COVID-19 ... and I think Jennifer and her staff tried to see where we could assist as much as possible.”
When a blend of government support programs was rolled out, McCurdy advocated on behalf of businesses that fell through the cracks.
McCurdy helped organize roundtables connecting all three levels of government on how to better support businesses.
She worked on multiple business surveys, pushed for a plan to allow the farmer’s market to open safely and helped manage an online campaign advocating residents to support local business through the pandemic.
Mrazek said she understands and respects McCurdy’s decision to take a step back and wishes her well in her retirement. Now the search begins to find McCurdy’s replacement to continue the work ahead next year.
“Sometimes things happen for the right reason,” she said. “With Jennifer’s background and everything she’s done, we can grow from where Jennifer has taken the Chamber, and that’s what we need to do to be successful.”