Modesto Chamber of Commerce names interim CEO after last CEO’s abrupt exit

Modesto Chamber of Commerce office in Modesto, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019.
Modesto Chamber of Commerce office in Modesto, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. aalfaro@modbee.com

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce has named an interim CEO-president after its last permanent one left after nearly a couple of months on the job under disputed circumstances.

The Board of Directors has appointed Trish Christensen — the chamber’s events and programs manager for nearly the last two years — as interim CEO-president as it conducts a recruitment for the permanent job. She was appointed Monday.

Board of Directors Chairman Steve Rank said he expects the chamber will have a permanent CEO-president within 60 days.

The chamber named Cindy Marks, the longtime Modesto City Schools board member, as its last CEO-president. She started June 10 but left Aug. 1. Rank has said she resigned for personal reasons, but Marks said she was forced out, with Rank telling her she would be fired if she did not resign.

Marks has said that on Aug. 2 she rescinded her resignation and was contacting board members to get her job back. She did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, but Rank said: “I can say the board has moved forward by making this decision by making Trish the interim.”

Rank and Marks have declined to say more about the reasons for her departure. She replaced Cecil Russell, a retired Save Mart executive who served as chamber CEO-president for about eight years.

The chamber has about a half-dozen employees and annual budget of about $700,000, officials have said.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.