• Chamber Ambassador Committee

  • The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee serves as the public relations arm of the Chamber. Chamber Ambassadors assist at Chamber functions and help promote the Chamber to prospective members and the community as a whole. Additionally, Chamber Ambassadors assist the Chamber in connecting with new and existing members so that they maximize their use of Chamber programs and other benefits and remain engaged with the Chamber. 

    In short, Chamber Ambassadors actively promote the Santa Maria Valley Chamber to the business community, connect members with others in the community who can help them build and grow their business. To also serve and support the Chamber while also spreading the news of our mission:  To be a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for the stronger Santa Maria Valley.

    Questions about the Ambassador Committee? Contact Karen Edwards at 
    (805) 719-6562 or karen.edwards@lauruscollege.edu.  

    Ready to join the Ambassador Committee? Fill out the application in the link below and email to
    Karen Edwards at karen.edwards@lauruscollege.edu

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  • Benefits of Serving on the Ambassador Committee Benefits of Serving on the Ambassador Committee

    Serving on the Ambassador Committee is a great way to support the Chamber and local business community. Additionally, you’ll see a number of benefits by being an Ambassador, including:

    • Opportunity for high-visibility networking
    • Your name, photo, bio and business name posted on the Chamber Website
    • Recognition of Ambassador of the Quarter, Ambassador of the Year, and Ambassador profiles published on Chamber print & digital platforms.
    • Ambassador Name Badge 
    • Early or reduced price admission to Chamber events, as appropriate
    • Opportunity to learn more about the programs, events and advocacy work that affect the Chamber and your community
    • Form close ties with other committee members and Board members
    • Create valuable business relationships while serving the business community
    • Have fun while creating a welcoming and all-inclusive environment for others to enjoy and benefit from

    Ambassador Committee Roles Ambassador Committee Roles

    Chief Ambassador: The Chief Ambassador serves as the head of the Ambassador Committee. This person serves a one-year term, (with the option to serve additional terms) and is responsible for assuring Ambassadors continue to meet program requirements and follow the Code of Conduct. The Chief Ambassador also assists with any questions or issues Ambassadors may have and notifies Chamber Staff Liaison of any concerns that may need to be addressed.

    • All Ambassadors are eligible to serve as Chief Ambassador by way of self-nomination or nomination by a fellow Ambassador or Chamber Staff.
    • Nominees will be submitted to the Chief Ambassador and/or the Chamber Staff Liaison during the month of May and all nominees will be announced at the May meeting.
    • All nominees will be considered. During the June meeting, a list of nominees for the new fiscal year Chief Ambassador will be presented to the Ambassadors at which time they will cast their vote privately during the meeting. All votes will be tallied during the meeting by the Chamber Staff Liaison and the existing Chief Ambassador, if possible. The outgoing Chief Ambassador will announce the nominee with the highest number of votes during the meeting as the new Chief Ambassador.

    ‚ÄčAssistant Chief Ambassador: The Assistant Chief Ambassador serves a one-year term, (with the option of to serve additional terms.) This position assists the Chief Ambassador as needed and runs Ambassador meetings in the absence of Chief Ambassador. The Assistant Chief Ambassador will be appointed each year. 

    • All Ambassadors are eligible to serve as Assistant Chief Ambassador by way of self-nomination or nomination by a fellow Ambassador or Chamber Staff.
    • All nominees will be submitted to the Chief Ambassador and/or the Chamber Staff Liaison during the month of June.
    • All nominees will be up for consideration then discussed amongst current Chief Ambassador and Chamber Staff Liaison. At least two or more Ambassadors will be considered for the position then those names will be presented to the incoming Chief Ambassador for a final decision.

    Ambassador Secretary: The Ambassador Secretary is responsible for taking notes at the Ambassador meeting, which they then transcribe into meeting minutes. The minutes are reviewed by the Chief Ambassador, presented to the Ambassador Committee prior to or at the monthly meeting, and approved by the Committee.

    Ambassador Luncheon Facilitator: The Ambassador Luncheon Facilitator arranges monthly Ambassador luncheons to be held by rotation at Chamber member restaurants each month and confirms all upcoming reservations. 

    Ambassadors in Training: Ambassadors in training are currently in the process of becoming an Ambassador. The training period is an opportunity to determine whether the requirements of the Ambassador Club are attainable and well suited for the individual. After a 60-day probationary period, the Ambassador will receive their official Ambassador name badge.

    Active Ambassadors: Active Ambassadors have completed the training and are formal members of the Ambassador Committee. They are expected to meet the Ambassador Committee guidelines which are updated annually, or if needed during the year and to abide by The Code of Conduct.

    Ambassador Emeritus: An Ambassador who has served on the Ambassador Committee for 15 or more years will be given Emeritus status and have a two-hour minimum requirement for participation (monthly luncheon plus on additional hour of participation per month). As with Ambassadors, the Ambassador Emeritus is asked to give 24 hours’ notice for missed luncheons and up to three absences are allowed per year.

    Ambassador Welcoming Committee: Ambassadors who have committed to the Welcoming Committee agrees to be partnered with new Chamber members by rotation or requested by Chamber staff.  In this position, they will do their best to connect with the new member within the first three months of membership by advising them how to make the most of their Chamber membership. Those on the welcoming committee are expected to reach out via phone or email to their assigned new Chamber member and invite them to attend an event, help them feel welcomed and introduce them to other Ambassadors and Chamber members. 

    Chamber Ambassador Committee Requirements Chamber Ambassador Committee Requirements

    As a Chamber Committee, Ambassadors must be members of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce (in good standing), and are expected to meet the following criteria to remain part of the Chamber Ambassador Committee. Commitment to these requirements will be renewed on an annual basis. Ambassadors who are unable to meet the committee requirements (without a reasonable expectation or communication with committee leadership) will be dismissed from the Ambassador committee.

    Ambassador Training Program:

    New Ambassadors are required to complete the Ambassador Committee training, which includes:

    • Attending Chamber Events
    • Work with Chief Ambassador to understand how to register for events, (for the purpose of volunteer’s logged hours) using SignupGenius.com and other requirements including the benefits of Chamber membership

    Ambassador Participation Requirements:

    To remain part of the Ambassador committee, Ambassadors are required to participate in the monthly Ambassador meeting, plus a minimum of 3 additional hours of Chamber functions each month. (4 hours total per month). Participation is logged through SignupGenius.com. Participation hours can include:

    • Attend the monthly Ambassador meeting (required): Monthly Ambassador meetings are typically held during lunch at a local restaurant or via Zoom. If an Ambassador is unable to attend, they are expected to give 24 hours’ notice. This monthly meeting is mandatory, and only extenuating circumstances will be considered as a valid reason to miss the meeting.
      • Only three excused absences are allowed per year, and Ambassadors who miss the monthly meeting are expected to make up the one hour of participation through one of the Chamber functions listed below.
    • Attend & network at weekly BYB (Build Your Business) breakfast meetings: held every Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at Denny’s Restaurant in Santa Maria or via Zoom from 8:30 a.m. -9:30 a.m.  Chamber Ambassadors are expected to introduce themselves to new members and attendees when meeting in person and answer questions about the Chamber. 1 hour of participation/ session
    • Attend Ribbon Cuttings: Ribbon cuttings are held for new Chamber members or to celebrate significant anniversaries/new office locations of existing members. Ambassadors are expected to assist as needed. Ambassadors should not use ribbon cuttings as a time to promote their business or try and make a sale, but instead contact the member at a later date. 1 hour of participation/ session
    • Volunteer at Chamber Mixers: Ambassadors can sign up to volunteer at Chamber Mixers, typically held the third Thursday of the month at various local businesses from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. Ambassador volunteers sign up for one-hour shifts and are expected to assist with set up/tear down, run the check in table, serve as greeters and answer any questions about the Chamber. Volunteers are expected to arrive early or stay after so they can network and participate in the mixer as well. 1 hour of participation/ session
    • Attend Chamber Mixers: If volunteer positions for a mixer are full, Ambassadors can attend the Mixer as a representation of the Ambassador Committee, and are expected to stay at least one hour. 1 hour of participation/ session
    • Participate in the Ambassador Welcoming Committee: Those who have made a commitment to be on the Welcoming Committee are expected to reach out via phone or email to new Chamber Members assigned to them and invite them to attend an event, help them feel welcome and introduce them to other Ambassadors and Chamber Members. 1 hour per month (per new member)
    • Assist at other Chamber events as needed: Throughout the year, Ambassadors will be asked to assist at some of the major Chamber events (Annual Awards Gala, ExpoFest, Annual Strawberry Dinner, etc.). Participation hours will vary by event. Participation hours vary
    • Serve in an Ambassador Leadership role: As organized by the Chief Ambassador, individuals who support the Ambassador program in a leadership role (Assistant Chief Ambassador, Secretary, Luncheon Facilitator, etc.) may receive participation hours for their efforts. 1 hour per month.

    Code of Conduct Code of Conduct

    As representatives of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Ambassadors are expected to hold themselves to a professional standard. The Code of Conduct for Chamber Ambassadors includes:

    • Consistently and positively promote the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
    • Maintain a courteous and professional demeanor while representing the Chamber at all programs and events. The Ambassadors have a profound effect on the Chamber, the City of Santa Maria and the community at large. Maintaining a positive and helpful attitude is the key to growing and maintaining a cohesive Chamber.
    • Respect your commitment to the Chamber. This includes prompt attendance at Ambassador meetings and any events for which you have volunteered to work and being responsible to find a replacement for work assignments when you are unable to meet a commitment.
    • Display an appropriate image of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber by wearing your Ambassador name badge and professional business attire at mixers and ribbon cuttings or wearing appropriate event-specific attire for other Chamber events and activities.
    • Display the highest standards in communication and responsiveness by promptly returning calls and e-mails to members, fellow Ambassadors, and Chamber staff.
    • Speak only for yourself when asked your opinion while serving as an Ambassador (and make it clear that it is your personal opinion and not that of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce).
    • Maintain neutrality regarding political candidates when working as an Ambassador. Refrain from wearing campaign buttons or displaying campaign literature while serving in an official Ambassador capacity.
    • Support and adhere to decisions made by the Ambassador Committee, Chamber Board of Directors, or the Chamber’s President/CEO, regardless of individual feelings or opinions.
    • Maintain an appropriate and professional image online if you choose to promote the Chamber Ambassador program (and/or yourself as a Chamber Ambassador) on your personal social media platforms. Promotion on social media refers to items including tagging yourself or your businesses in Chamber photos or tagging the Chamber or “checking in” at Chamber events on your personal or business page.
    • Ambassadors are not to engage in sales at any time with a member while in attendance at their ribbon cutting.

    Chamber Ambassador Recognition Chamber Ambassador Recognition

    Members of the Ambassador Committee are recognized throughout the year for their commitment and involvement in the program.

    • Ambassador of the Quarter: Chosen by the Chief Ambassador based on attendance, as well as, dedication to the Ambassador Committee and promotion of the Chamber. The Ambassador of the Quarter will receive a recognition plaque and $25 gift card. Ambassador of the Quarter is also recognized on Chamber’s online Chamber News publication along with a short article profiling the Ambassador.
    • Ambassador of the Year: Selected by the Ambassador Committee. At the June meeting, the Chief Ambassador will present the three Ambassadors with top attendance for the year. Ambassadors present will vote for the candidate they deem most worthy by way of private voting. The Ambassador of the Year will be announced at the June meeting. The Ambassador of the Year will receive a recognition plaque and $50 gift card and will be honored at the Chamber’s Annual Awards.
    • Ambassador Profiles: Ambassadors will be periodically profiled and featured in Chamber print and digital publications. The Ambassador Committee will be notified when this opportunity is available, and those highlighted will be on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Ambassador Committee Members

  • Carlos Lesne, Astound Business Solutions Powered by Digital West Carlos Lesne, Astound Business Solutions Powered by Digital West

    Erika Weber Erika Weber

    Erika is a lifelong resident of the Central Coast, a second generation Californian born in San Luis Obispo and raised in Santa Maria from the age of 8. After college, Erika returned to Santa Maria and began her career in sales and marketing with the Santa Maria Times.

    In 1999, Erika left a position with a nationwide paging company to accept a position at VTC Enterprises. Erika found her passion of helping people with her new position at VTC.  Erika was tasked with finding meaningful employment for adults with developmental disabilities. The position allowed her to connect with the community, providing quality products and services to local businesses, while giving people with disabilities a chance for a productive and worthwhile life. Her position with VTC expanded to encompass contact management and sales, donor retention, event planning, fundraising and marketing. Erika helpd raise over 1.5 million dollars for VTC during the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen campaigns from 2014-2020.

    Erika served as Chief Ambassador for the SMV Chamber of Commerce from 2003-2018 and is still an active Ambassador. She is President of the Santa Maria Women's Network, is a graduate of the 2020 South County Leadership Class and is an active Ambassador for the South County Chamber, as well. 


    Jesse Acevedo, BBSI Jesse Acevedo, BBSI

    Julie Colegrove, Shaklee Julie Colegrove, Shaklee

    Julie is a proud 25 - Year Ambassador of the Santa Maria Chamber, and a member of the Chamber since 1980. She moved to Santa Maria in 1978, following life adventures in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Ohio and Southern California. She has been a passionate Member of the Shaklee Family since 1970. Having built a group of Members and Distributors, became a Sales Leader, earned Bonus cars, global travel and cruises, along with the Bonus income. In 1978 she accompanied her husband, Jim, to the Central Coast – and brought along their highly portable Shaklee business, adding a brand-new family of Shaklee Members in this area.

    Born in New York City, she moved to New Jersey in her teens, met Jim, worked at the Rutgers University library awaiting his completion of Air Force Training, moved to Texas to marry, then Arizona, and on to Virginia where they started an Air Force family with two sons. Leaving the Air Force, Jim attended The Ohio State University and they then moved to Southern California, where they (she) built the Shaklee business while raising two boys, adding a daughter, going back to college and ultimately, moving to Santa Maria (supporting Jim in his career at Vandenberg AFB).

    Their sons and daughter have grown, have families of their own – and using Shaklee products in their lives – leaving Julie with Jim and Pooh Bear the famous dog. 


    Julie Jorge, Wine and Design Julie Jorge, Wine and Design

    Karen Edwards, Laurus College Karen Edwards, Laurus College

    Dr. Karen Edwards is the Director of Workforce and Economic Development for Laurus College and Chief Ambassador for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. Karen and her family relocated to the Central Coast from the Midwest in 2018. Prior to coming to Laurus College, Karen taught at College of Wooster, Cleveland Institute of Art, University of Akron, and Case Western Reserve University. Karen has over twenty years of experience in education at the college and university level, specializing in the visual arts and curriculum development. She is a passionate educator and volunteers for several non-profit organizations, as well as the City of San Luis Obispo's Cultural Heritage Committee. In her spare time, Karen enjoys hiking with her husband, teenage daughter, and two labrador retrievers.

    Kelsi Fitzgerald, Phoenix Property Inspections/Veritas Innovative Pest & Termite Solutions Kelsi Fitzgerald, Phoenix Property Inspections/Veritas Innovative Pest & Termite Solutions

    Hello, my name is Kelsi Fitzgerald. I grew up in Fresno, CA until the age of 17 years old when my dad’s job brought us to the Central Coast. I lived in Los Osos for about a year then moved out after High School and worked as a live-in nanny in Arroyo Grande. I met my son’s father when we were 19 years old. We got married and had our son. Our son, Ethan, is now 26 years old, married, and works at Diablo Canyon in IT. Although my ex-husband and I are no longer together, we have always made our son our priority. I met my “husband” (we are domestic partners) about 5 years ago. Between both of us, we have 4 boys ranging in ages of 11-26 years old.

    I started my career in the medical industry. I started as a medical assistant and because I am so nosey, I worked my way up to Practice Manager. I have managed up to 3 medical offices at once, so know what it’s like to get an office up and going. Over the past year (2020) we have opened two businesses. We have a Home Inspection business called Phoenix Property Inspections and a Pest and Termite company called Veritas Innovative Pest & Termite Solutions. Because of my strong history of running and managing Medical Practices, getting these two businesses up and running was almost second nature. Almost being the keyword here. Every day is a new adventure and we are constantly learning. My husband and his partners have been in the Pest and Termite business for a combined 75 years. I like to think that my eye for detail and talent for filling out paperwork has helped to get our companies up and going. Customer Service is key for me as well. I like to be as personable as possible with our clients and make them feel like part of our family. Our customers are not just numbers to us. We are about quality, not quantity.

    On a personal note, I am very much about my family and our combined 4 sons. Living in the moment and making memories is very important to me. I want our kiddos and future grandbabies to have fun stories to tell and remember as they get older. I also like to teach our kids how important it is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Kindness is priceless and should be handed out as often as you can.

    Leona Doidge Leona Doidge

    My name is Leona Doidge and I enjoy meeting and working with all of the people that make this community great. My involvement with the Ambassador Committee has allowed me to meet and learn about new businesses in our area, support their efforts to thrive and give back to our community.

    We have close to 20 Ambassadors with the SMVCC. The Ambassador Committee is a fun, energetic and a smart group of people dedicated to the ideas that networking and building relationships within the Chamber of Commerce is the best way to do business and to give back to the community.

    Naomi Altergott, World Financial Group/The Altergott Strategic Focus Team Naomi Altergott, World Financial Group/The Altergott Strategic Focus Team

    My name is Naomi Altergott.  I am an independent agent/associate with World Financial Group.  I am licensed in both CA & AZ, providing insurance and financial products that help protect and provide for a family’s financial goals.  I am part of a campaign to educate 30 million families on financial literacy by the year 2030, by offering free financial literacy workshops.  I am passionate about teaching people about how money works and how they can achieve financial independence by making small changes with how they spend or save their money.  I believe that everyone should be able to have the opportunity to live a happy, healthy & wealthy lifestyle.

    I am also a SCORE Certified Mentor and volunteer.  SCORE helps people who wish to start a new business or grow an existing business by providing free mentoring, tools, and workshops.  SCORE exists to help our business community grow and be successful.

    I love being a member of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and serving a as a member of the ambassador committee for the Chamber.

    I have been married to my husband Randy for 24 years.  We enjoy living on the central coast.  We have two puppies, Yodie & Mykonos.  In my off time I enjoy playing golf, gardening & photography.

    Paula Fuller, American Self Storage Paula Fuller, American Self Storage

    I relocated to Santa Maria in 2005. A native to the area of Vandenberg AFB, I attended the local schools since the 2nd grade when my father was stationed at Vandenberg. I have worked in the Self Storage industry since 2004. I have enjoyed working with the community and helping people in need of self storage or RV/Boat parking. I have enjoyed being involved as an Ambassador since January of 2017 and I am currently serving as Assistant Chief Ambassador.  I love seeing businesses thrive and meeting so many different people. I have enjoyed being a part of this great group of Ambassadors.

    Tim Bomben, Astound Business Solutions Powered by Digital West Tim Bomben, Astound Business Solutions Powered by Digital West

    My name is Tim Bomben and I have lived and worked in the central coast since 2004. As an ambassador of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, I take pride in representing the chamber and its many members in the beautiful Santa Maria community. In 2020 I joined Wave Business, a premier connectivity solutions provider in Santa Maria. Wave built a fiber rich network to better serve our community and I have the opportunity to share the services that Wave offers here on the central coast. When I am not working, gardening and home improvement fill much of my schedule outside of time with my family, but I do try to make time to enjoy the beautiful central coast where I have the privilege to live and work. When there is not an opportunity to travel, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are certainly a beautiful place to staycation!

    Priscilla Smith, eXp Realty of California, Inc. Priscilla Smith, eXp Realty of California, Inc.

    My name is Priscilla Smith, your local Realtor and Resource go-to. I was born and raised here in Santa Maria with my mom and two sisters on the North end of town. I've always had a strong head on my shoulders but it took me a long while to find my sense of direction. I knew I wanted to support my community so I always volunteered my time at the local food bank, rescue mission, special Olympic events, and Hancock College, where I received two degrees and am in the process of a third. I love education, investing in myself and others, and I am a true go-getter. If I don't have the answer, I will find someone who does. 

    I love being an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce; I am able to meet people and businesses I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet, and find ways to help their businesses grow and become noticed. I enjoy marketing, advertising, networking, and problem-solving. I try to be a resource for everyone in our community, whatever their needs, and hope to run for city council one day.