Krista Carter is saying goodbye to the West Orange Chamber of Commerce after 21 years at the organization. She was hired as member services coordinator in 2001 and promoted to vice president in 2005.
Carter has accepted a position as executive communications manager at the Orlando headquarters of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
“For nearly every weekday for the past 21 years, I have entered the chamber building to see Krista Carter working at her desk,” Chamber President Stina D’Uva said. “Even though I will miss her, there will be traces of Krista throughout all we will continue to do for years to come. Krista brought so much to this organization, and I am so proud of the next phase in her career.”
The chamber has grown under the leadership of Carter and D’Uva. There were four employees and about 650 members when Carter started her job; today, there are seven employees and nearly 1,100 members. In that time, Carter also saw the complete purchase of the building on West Colonial Drive in Winter Garden and a full renovation of the building and parking lot.
The chamber also has been named Chamber of the Year by the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals three times — in 2009, 2012 and 2015 — in the past 20 years.
In addition, Carter received the 2015 Professional of the Year Award from the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals.
“Krista has played a tremendous role in the success of the West Orange Chamber,” D’Uva said. “Her service in the community and her wide array of talents have proved to be invaluable for the chamber, allowing both her and the organization to shine.”
Carter was an asset when the building was renovated in 2017.
During the remodel, Doug Mathews, construction superintendent with The Collage Companies, worked with Carter and the staff and said she provided frequent feedback and solutions when issue arose.
“If I could have a couple more projects with Krista … I have no doubt the projects would be successful and I could finish out my career on top,” he said.
Mathews also learned the staff, including Carter, wasn’t fond of the family of raccoons living in the dumpster out back. He heard “end-of-days screaming” and ran outside to check on the women.
“I ran out to see what was happening and saw Krista and two other chamber staff running for their lives to the building away from the trash can at the woods,” he said.
He found himself on trash detail for a while because the employees refused to take out the garbage and risk another raccoon encounter.
Mathews was one of dozens of chamber members who attended the June 30 Chamber After Hours event at Tin Roof to wish Carter well in her new endeavor. She covered the room and stood for photos with many in attendance. Participants were full of praise for Carter’s positive influence at the organization.
“I think she exemplified dedication, perseverance and the overall true love for her community of West Orange County,” said chamber member and attorney Lynn Walker Wright.
“Krista was at the chamber (pre-Stina) 21 years ago when I joined the board,” said Pam Gould, chamber member and Orange County School Board member. “She has been tenacious and a guide through rebuilding, renovating and rebranding. I will miss her humor and wise approach to business.”
D’Uva presented Carter with several parting gifts, including a lifetime associate membership to the chamber and a plaque created by local artist Dax Lopez recognizing Carter’s career longevity and her love of birds.
“I am so proud of my time at the West Orange Chamber,” Carter said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to have been with the organization for so long. In my time at the chamber, we have accomplished so much for our business community, and I am honored to have had the chance to be a part of it.”
Carter has many cherished memories of her time at the chamber but said she sincerely will miss working with the board of directors and the Economic & Governmental Advocacy Committee, as well as Leadership West Orange. Through this program, Carter led groups of businessmen and women in many adventures, including visiting three theme parks in one day, taking tours of the Orange County Jail, getting a behind-the-scenes looks at local health care and seeing Lake Apopka’s North Shore on Environmental Day.
“Krista is the reason I have been so involved with the chamber and the West Orange Community over the past 15 years,” said Tim Haberkamp, former board chair. “She is the leader of the Leadership West Orange group each year. I was fortunate enough to be included in this group of 25 members when I first joined the chamber. Krista took us on outings each month to learn about the many different businesses and cultural entities that make West Orange what it is today. This motivated me to become more involved and be part of the future of this developing community.”
The chamber was founded in 1972 and serves as an advocate in Central Florida to build partnerships, promote economic growth in the community and facilitate opportunities for member businesses.
In her position at the chamber, she has supervised the organization’s Events and Marketing & Communications departments, administered the Chamber Trustee program, facilitated the Leadership West Orange program, overseen the Economic & Governmental Advocacy Committee, and served as the executive director of the West Orange Committee of One Hundred and One, the philanthropic arm of the chamber.
Her last day is July 8; it’s bittersweet, she said. Tracy Solly has been hired to fill the vice president’s position.
“I have lived a lifetime at the chamber, and it will be hard to say goodbye,” Carter said. “Yet, at the same time, I am tickled pink for my new adventure and I’m looking forward to expanding my horizons with an international organization.”
Carter said she was drawn to the role at IAAPA because it presented a new challenge and new adventure with the possibility of international travel. She will be the liaison between the company’s executive leadership and its board of directors, which is made up of international representatives.
She will have three primary areas of responsibility — supporting and managing logistics, communications and presentations for the IAAPA officers, board of directors, committees, task forces and leadership team; managing internal communications for the global IAAPA team; and assisting the director of global communications.
Carter will report to the company’s headquarters in Orlando in mid-July.
IAAPA is a member-based organization that represents more than 5,000 amusement- industry members and more than 100 countries worldwide and operates several global attractions industry trade shows.
"I will be able to take all of my skills that I have learned over the past 21 years at the WOCC and apply them to this new role,” Carter said.