SEBRING - The answer is, Elizabeth Barber.
At the Jan. 30 annual banquet, the Greater Sebring Chamber Of Commerce, the unanswered question on every member's lips was, "Who will replace Steve Nyhan as executive director?"
Although the position was advertised twice and candidates were interviewed from far and away, the executive board finally settled on a local woman, Elizabeth Marabel Barber, 29, of Sebring.
"I've volunteered for a long time," said Barber. "Even as child, I volunteered for the chamber. Maybe I was a weird kid, but the idea of businesses that come together to promote themselves for the greater good always made sense to me. I really believed in their message."
Her parents, Geri Canale and Steve Marabel, were chamber members at a former business, Exit Realty All Stars, and at their new store, Boom Boom Guns & Ammo, which was named the chamber's Small Business of the Year last week.
Barber has been on the chamber board for four years, and was last year's secretary.
"It is its own culture," said Barber, a learning site coordinator for Hodges University in Naples. A dual guidance counselor and professor, she taught a success-in-college course to South Florida State College students at the University Center, helped them apply for financial aid, found books and managed course transfer credits.
"It's like the whole campus in one person," she said.
At Exit Realty All Stars, Barber was a real estate agent and office manager. Before that, she was a resident hall director and resident assistant at Stetson University, where she has a 2006 bachelor's degree in sociology and minors in management and marketing. She took a 2010 master's in professional studies, which focused on executive leadership.
"Liz is very detail oriented and thorough," said board chair Jane Hancock. "Watching her work on the annual banquet was amazing. She had the information from last year's banquet always at her fingertips on her computer. If someone had a question, she had the answer. If she thought someone wasn't doing their assigned task, she quietly took care of it without making a big deal. She has worked on other events in the same way. You give her a task and she gets it done and does it well. She is personable, passionate about Sebring, and I think she will be a great 'face of the chamber.' Her time on the board of directors has given her insight into what the job entails and how it is to work for a volunteer board of directors. I think she is going to be great."
"I am here to hit the ground running," Barber said Friday, "and to give chamber members the support and respect they deserve."