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Thursday, January 26, 2023

New Chamber Director Sets Sights on County-Wide Programming – The Navasota Examiner

Lucy Ybarra of Anderson is preparing to take on her new role as Executive Director of the Navasota Grimes County Chamber of Commerce next year, it was announced Wednesday by County Judge Joe Fauth during Grimes County Commissioner’s Court. Ybarra will succeed Johnny McNally, who retires in December after more than seven years on the job.
 
Ybarra was chosen after a two-month search that attracted candidates both locally and from across Texas, according to the Chamber. After all interviews, the search committee gave its recommendation to the Board of Directors in October, and Ybarra’s appointment was approved unanimously.
 
Chamber Board President YoLanda Fultz, of Fultz Realty, said the search committee conducted interviews over the past two months and concluded Ybarra was the best fit for the position. “Lucy impressed the chamber’s leadership with her passion for Grimes County, her previous leadership experience in non-profits, and, most recently, her work with Grimes County as Elections Administrator,” said Fultz.
 
“I like the freedom of being able to offer different member services throughout the county, and also look forward to work on economic development for Grimes County,” Ybarra answered when asked what attracted her to the job.
 
In the past, she has worked with non-profits and with the Texas Workforce Commission. For the past four years, she has served as Grimes County’s Elections Administrator.
 
When asked how that experience will translate to her new position, Ybarra said “I naturally gravitate to marketing and meeting people, and the social aspect of it. I’ve had experience hosting county-wide events and have contacts that I believe can benefit the Chamber of Commerce.”
 
Ybarra has considerable ties to the local communities. Her family operated a dairy in Grimes County. Ybarra herself is a graduate of Richards ISD, along with her four sisters. Her children are enrolled in Navasota ISD and her husband is the editor of The Examiner Newspaper.
 
As for her first year, Ybarra expects lots of learning. “I have big shoes to fill. But I would also like to see a push to explore what we can do across the entire county.”
 
Looking back at his tenure, McNally mentioned having to encounter the challenges faced by the COVID-19 outbreak.  “One of the things I’m most proud of is our ability to respond to help our businesses during the COVID outbreak,” McNally said. “You could see that our businesses were struggling and about to get worse, and we took steps to raise awareness of the struggles our local businesses were going through, and to encourage shopping local to support them. We were also able to participate in a program to personally administer more than 700 COVID rapid tests. This gave businesses an early warning as to whether they could safely remain open, and also provided valuable data to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.”
 
McNally also oversaw the creation of numerous new tourism activities driven by the Chamber of Commerce. McNally explained “Our tourism events have been a lot of fun, and beneficial to our business community. Almost immediately when I started, we began putting together the Groovy Grapes Wine Walk as a spring event. It became extremely popular to the point that we looked at a fall equivalent, the Reds, Wheats & Blues Festival. That also came about when the Bluesfest was discontinued and we wanted to continue to promote the blues legacy of Navasota.”
 
As for the Chamber of Commerce community events and member services, Ybarra also discussed her plan to engage and utilize youth internships. She would like to reach a younger professional demographic through new advertising channels and creating opportunities for young professionals to meet and make connections.
 
 
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