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Sequim chamber director let go

Six months after beating out 27 other candidates for the position, Lee Lawrence, executive director of the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce, has been relieved of his duties.

“Lee was hired as of Aug. 1 and leaped into projects and changes. He also brings new insights and opportunities — and enthusiasm that is often challenging to keep with,” Hattie Dixon, past president of the chamber wrote in the chamber’s January newsletter.

According to a weekly e-mail sent out by president Joe Borden to chamber members, a special meeting of the chamber’s board of directors, present and the 2007 directors, was held on Thursday, Jan. 17, wherein they concluded that Lawrence was not the man for the job after all. The board approached Lawrence asking for his resignation. According to Borden, Lawrence refused and on Jan. 18, he was fired.

Borden’s e-mail goes on to say that Lawrence was not meeting the board’s expectations, but when asked, Borden would not say what those exact expectations were.

“Lee just wasn’t the right person for the job,” Borden said.

During the chamber’s Jan. 22 luncheon, Borden said that the decision to terminate Lawrence was not made lightly.

“We would not have done this if we didn’t feel we needed to do this,” Borden said.

According to Borden, Lawrence was under no contract with the chamber.

Lawrence, a 10-year resident of Sequim, was no stranger to community involvement. In fact, in 2005, Lawrence was voted Sequim’s Citizen of the Year. Among his accomplishments, Lawrence served as the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club’s president and director, co-founded the Sequim Education Foundation, chaired the United Way of Clallam County’s campaign in 2003 and 2004 and coordinated the restoration of the Sequim Food Bank. Prior to being hired by the chamber, Lawrence was working as an investment advisor for Merrill Lynch on Bainbridge Island, but the commute and long workdays were keeping Lawrence away from his family and the Sequim community.

“I’ve always had a strong sense of community and it’s time for me to get back to that. I’m making a transition back into town,” Lawrence said during an August interview with the Sequim Gazette.

The chamber plans to post the qualifications and requirements for the position of executive director later this week. Borden says the job’s requirements and qualifications will not be altered.

The chamber may reconnect with candidates from the previous search. The chamber hopes to have all applications in by Feb. 29, but will take its time with the actual interviewing process.

“We need to make sure we get the right person, we need to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Borden said.

Lawrence could not be reached for comment.

The chamber will continue its planned events, including the annual Member Appreciation Night, from 6-8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25 at SunLand Golf and Country Club, as well as selecting a Citizen of the Year who will be announced at the Feb. 26 luncheon.

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