The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce expects to move into its newly remodeled building in the coming weeks, about the same time it will say goodbye to its CEO.

Kristina Olivas, the Hermiston Chamber’s chief executive officer since March, will return to her previous job at the Walmart Distribution Center in Hermiston. Her last day as CEO will be Sept. 10.

Olivas said her time with the chamber has given her a renewed appreciation of her hometown. “No other experience would have given me the knowledge of how business-centered Hermiston is, the amount of growth coming at us, and the level of good intentions for our community,” she said.

“Take the opportunity to share your voice,” she said. “The city is growing so fast it needs its residents to be involved.”

Olivas’s skills and energy were appreciated as the Chamber made great progress in reconnecting with its members and remodeling its newly purchased building at 630 S. Highway 395, said Kris Bennett, chair of the Chamber’s board of directors.

“Our board would like to thank Kristina for her time with the chamber and wish her well,” Bennett said.

Remodeling the building has created a multifunctional space that will be available for member use. The chamber is looking at mid-September to move in but no date has been set, Bennett said.

Val Hoxie, newly hired as executive assistant at the chamber, has taken on all administrative duties and will move forward with existing programs while the chamber finds its next CEO. Olivas also will contribute her skills as a consultant during the transition.

Hoxie most recently worked as an human resources/operations manager for Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood. She has lived in Hermiston since October 2020.

She and her husband have five grown daughters and since becoming empty nesters have fallen in love with traveling, most recently to Europe, Hoxie said.

“If not spending time with our children, we spend time exploring new places in our RV. It has been so much fun discovering all the wonderful spots here in Eastern Oregon and Washington,” Hoxie said.

“I’m looking forward to working directly with the community and business leaders," she said, "as I feel it very important to cultivate new relationships and forge lasting connections with the community here in Hermiston."

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