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Manson Chamber of Commerce 2023 Board of Directors

Manson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Erik Cooper, Kasmira Elliot, Tom Tochterman, Kim Ustanik, Bill Swayne (left to right)

The Manson Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting of the year on January 18 at the Manson Parks building. The first order of business was the introduction of three new board members and an Executive Director. Board President, Kim Ustanik introduced Vice President Bill Swayne, Treasurer Jessica Shook, Publicity Director Erik Cooper, and Executive Director Tom Tochterman to the Community. “I would like to recognize and thank last year’s Board members, Todd Link, Jeff Conwell, Kirk Sixel, and Executive Director Debbie Conwell, for an outstanding year,” Kim said.

The Manson Chamber of Commerce was established in 2015 when the Manson Business Association rebranded. This organization traces its roots back to 2007 when it was reorganized from the Manson Merchants Association, which was incorporated in 1992. Even earlier, the Manson Development Council held public meetings in the 1980’s. Records show that downtown business groups and residents came together as far back as the 1940’s when the big trees were initially cut, and the street widened. In fact, Debbie Conwell became the first Executive Director of this long-standing organization in 2018. Outside of Ms. Conwell, all activity in the community of Manson takes place by volunteers. The organization’s name may have changed over the years, but it’s always been a great group of dedicated people with goals of making Manson a better place for everyone. The Manson Chamber’s Mission statement reads, “To support and assist our community members to successfully grow both now and in the future.”

Kim Ustanik, owner of Mountain View Lodge, returns to the Board as President. Kim has been on the Board for twelve years. She started in 2007, when it was the Manson Business Association. Kim states her goal as, “People”. “My community won’t be great for me and my family if it’s not great for everyone else.” I will strive to be a leader with a strong focus on communication, respect, and collaboration,” Kim stated.

Tom Tochterman, Manson resident, accepted the position as Executive Director for the Manson Chamber of Commerce on January 9, 2023. His motivation for taking the job was to use his life experiences in forming the economic future and wellbeing of our town. “Much is at stake in our community for the next generation depending on how we manage growth in our town," says Tochterman. “Our employers and employees need to be supported in ways that create the most vibrant community possible.” Tochterman's goal with the chamber for 2023, includes supporting the Manson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in their mission and to personally meet with all Chamber members to create a unified vision of our town and the steps required to get there.

Bill Swayne, owner of Chelan Ridge Winery, is the new Vice President and Membership Director of the Manson Chamber. Bill has a long history of public service and business, bringing a wealth of experience to the team. Bill says, “We need to build on what others have done and grow from there. Our goal is to pull people together.” He states, “My whole goal is to be a leader and make connections!”

Treasurer, Jessica Shook
Jessica Shook

Jessica Shook, North Cascades Bank, Community Outreach Coordinator. “I am a Washingtonian and have lived in various cities across the state. I moved to Manson two years ago to be closer to my grandparents, and to take in the beautiful sights and tastes of the valley. In 2018, I graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Hospitality Business Management and a minor in Global Studies. With intentions of working in the hotel business, I’m surprised to find myself working at North Cascades Bank as the Community Outreach Coordinator. On the weekends, I love to pour wine and have a good conversation with my other work family at Amos Rome Vineyards. I joined the Manson Chamber of Commerce because I believe it’s important to be involved in the community. My goal is to help other people come out of their shells and volunteer alongside me. My role at the bank allows me to motivate others to donate their time and money to causes we believe in throughout the community. I would like to see us be more involved with the Manson School District, because children really are our future. With the help of my fellow board members, I know that 2023 will be fantastic”, Jessica said.

Kasmira (Kaz) Elliot, Board Secretary, is the Tasting Room Manager at Skagit Cellars in Manson. She has been in the wine industry for the last 16 years and was elected to the Manson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in November of 2021, and is currently serving her second term as the Secretary. “Being born and raised in the Lake Chelan Valley, and having generational ties to Manson, the future of our community is vital to me. My goals this year are centered around continuing to serve our members and our larger community to the best of my abilities, with a focus is on better communication. I believe everyone communicates differently, so we need to utilize all our tools including person-to-person and, one-on-one conversations, to our best advantage, with transparency and integrity. We have several new people leading our organization this year, and I’m looking forward to all the things we can accomplish together,” Kasmira said.

Erik Cooper, owner of Vibe Cellars, starts his first year on the Board, serving as Publicity Director. Erik grew up in Issaquah, Washington. He attended Arizona State University from 1999-2008, graduating with a degree in Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies. Erik moved back to Washington in 2008, working in downtown Bellevue as a bartender. Erik was exposed to home winemaking through his father, who was a member of the Boeing Wine and Beer Club. Erik made a big life change and went all in on winemaking taking two certificate programs through Washington State University. One certificate in Viticulture and one certificate in Enology. Erik moved to the Chelan valley in 2016 and worked for five and a half years at Nefarious Cellars. He began making wines for Vibe Cellars in 2018 and opened the Vibe Cellars tasting room, with his father, George, and twin brother Michael, in September 2021. Vibe Cellars wines are currently produced at Succession Wines, where Erik has worked since March 2021, as their Tasting Room Manager.

Erik stated, “I joined the Manson Chamber of Commerce to add my voice to the many business owners in Manson and to help facilitate the growth of our members now and in the future. I feel that you can sit on the sidelines and complain, or roll up your sleeves and do the work that needs to be done to better our community. Being on the board of directors is completely new to me and slightly intimidating but, I feel it will be very rewarding. Being part of the Manson Chamber of Commerce will allow me to develop new relationships with community members and learn more about this extraordinary community I now call home.”

You can help this incredible team succeed by becoming a member of the Manson Chamber of Commerce. Your business has many benefits as a member, and you will also have input and influence. As an individual, you can become a member for just $25 a year, and there are many volunteering opportunities that are fun and rewarding.

By Norm Manly

Community Volunteer

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