KNIGHTDALE — Leaders of the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce say a strong interview made their decision in naming a new executive director an easy one.
A hiring committee composed of the Knightdale chamber board, Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen and Knightdale Human Resources Director Suzanne Yeatts unanimously selected Mary Yount for the position at the chamber’s July 11 board meeting.
Yount, the current Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce vice president of operations, was chosen from among 20 who applied for the position and five finalists who were interviewed on June 12. Her first day on the job will be Aug. 12.
Tom Williams, president of the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce, said the undivided vote was indicative of the faith the board has in Yount, who replaces 18-year chamber director Jennifer Bryan. Bryan, the wife for Wake County commission chairman Joe Bryan, resigned April 30 to take a job with the Wake Tech Foundation.
“That says everything for us and our future,” Williams said of the vote. “When you have someone like Jennifer here for 18 years, that’s big shoes to fill. It’s a big process looking for a replacement for someone like that, so to have a unanimous vote is a sigh of relief.”
Yount, 49, has spent the last six years with the Wake Forest chamber, where Williams served as the chamber president last year. She spent the first three of those years as director of member relations and has held the operational title ever since.
Having served with Wake Forest’s chamber for several years leading up to his current role in Knightdale, Williams had an idea what to expect in interviewing Yount. He said all on the hiring committee were “very impressed” with what they found.
“Mary had really done her homework,” Williams said. “She showed up with a strategic plan for how to tackle the growth the Knightdale area is experiencing and we all looked at it and said, ‘Gosh, that’s what we’ve been looking for six months now and you just brought it to us on paper,’ so we knew we had the right person.”
Similarities Yount sees between the Knightdale of today and Wake Forest, as it was when she began working there, attracted her to the opportunity.
“I-540 came and impacted the growth in Wake Forest, and I see much of the same (in Knightdale),” Yount said. “I’ve seen some of the opportunities and some of the challenges and how the community in Wake Forest has managed those, and hopefully can bring to the table some ways to manage those in Knightdale as well.”
The first item on Yount’s checklist in Knightdale is to find out what needs exist in the business community.
“I’m going to have to listen a lot and meet with a lot of people,” she said. “From there, it’s just where does the community want to go, and how can the chamber align and be a part of that.”
Yount’s credentials are geared directly toward chamber leadership. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human ecology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is a 2011 graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
She is currently serving a three-year term as a board member for the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, an association that supports chamber executives in North Carolina and South Carolina.