Chamber Director Tamara Tateosian finds new home in Fulton

Callaway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamara Tateosian’s path to Fulton and chamber of commerce work wasn’t planned.

She started working in a factory near Fort Smith, Arkansas. When she went back to school, she got an internship with the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce. Tamara intended to go back to the factory after finishing school; however, Tamara’s boss encouraged her to stay with the chamber.

“He kept saying ‘you really need to be in the chamber industry. You’re a great salesperson.’  I don’t feel like I’m a salesperson,” she said. “Finally, I agreed to stay on board as his assistant to economic development, which meant I was going to help him with business retention, RFIs, bringing in new industries, site visits, all of those things.”

Over the years, she also worked as Director of Membership and Marketing and Director of Operations while continuing her economic development work in the Fort Smith area. After her husband passed away suddenly and their daughter graduated high school, Tamara decided it was time for a change.

“Even though I appreciated all the support that I got from my colleagues and from my community, it was still a struggle every single day,” she said. “I returned to work a couple of weeks afterward because my boss was adamant that I should take some time off to kind of regroup. Once I picked myself back up and started that charge again, I kept moving, and I was leading my team. I decided that I needed to do something for myself, and I needed to leave the state that I had lived in for my entire life.”

Tamara started looking in the surrounding states for Chambers of Commerce with open positions and came across the Callaway Chamber’s ad for an executive director. The Chamber had recently undergone significant change itself creating the Fulton Area Development Foundation as a sister organization.

“I was getting to start almost from scratch and to design this Chamber and run it to be successful,” she said. “I was super excited about that from the support that they were giving me … It was like a fresh start. I got to come to a place where I didn’t know anybody, and nobody knew my situation.”

Her first project focused on developing a strategic plan for the Callaway Chamber that resulted in five areas of focus and a direction to head in. Tamara’s now led the Chamber for over seven years.

“Leadership for me and with my team here, my job is to support them and to allow them to be creative and innovative every single day,” Tamara said. “Not everything works out. A lot of times it’s throwing things up against the wall and seeing what sticks, and if it doesn’t, then you just don’t do it ever again. But if it does, then it’s nurturing that and then helping them be successful in that nurturing process. The things that we do here help the other leaders in the community … As long as they’re learning something new every day, then it’s challenging to them, and it helps them grow.”