The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 30, 2013

Maria Culp resigns as leader of the Central PA Chamber of Commerce

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— MILTON — Maria Culp, who has publically spearheaded numerous transportation iniatives in the Valley, is no longer with the Central Pennslvania Chamber of Commerce, according to the organization.

Chamber board chairwoman Lisa McManus - who will serve as interim chief executive officer while the organization searches to fill the position - confirmed the parting of ways, but would not provide any further details.

“I have no further comment at this time,” she said.

When contacted, other board members referred all inquiries to McManus.

The organization issued a press release Tuesday afternoon saying Culp gave her resignation, effective immediately and that the Chamber leadership is “thankful for Maria’s leadership over the past seven years.”

Culp - who had been with the Chamber since October 2006 - said Tuesday that she had handed in her resignation at the Chamber “to pursue other interests full time,” and that she “sent everyone she worked with ... best wishes.”

The sudden move leaves both Valley-based Chambers without executive directors, with Charlie Ross, president of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce in Shamokin Dam, who resigned from that post a month earlier after informing his board that he will be pursuing other interests.

Sudden changes in chamber leadership have revived discussion among Valley businesses of a regional chamber merger combining Greater Susquehanna’s 800 members and Central Pennsylvania’s nearly 300 members with the possibility of attracting chambers from the Shamokin, Montour-Columbia and even Williamsport

area. How Culp’s departure might affect that dynamic remains to be seen.

McManus also had no comment about the future plans of the Chamber Tuesday.

What also remains unclear is Culp’s involvement with the numerous other Valley organizations she worked with. Culp had been appointed by two governors to serve as an Early Learning Investment Commissioner for the commonwealth and the Central Pennsylvania Chamber has, for several years, included a business and education component that works with local school districts.  

She was also a board member of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Keystone Innovation Zone and the Northeast Economic Development Association, the Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority and Corporation and a voting member of key committees planning economic development and studying transportation needs.

The lack of information is frustrating to some who worked with Culp.

“I started to hear that she was no longer with the Chamber and I called to ask what was going on,” Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi said. “They told me she had resigned. I asked why and they would not get into details with me. If she resigned because of personal reasons or because she found a better job, then may God bless her but if something happened and the Chamber is trying to hide something from the businesses who put their money into the Chamber than I have a problem with that. All I wanted to know was why and as a county leader and having her sit on a board her at the county I think we have the right to know. I’m just confused on why the Chamber wouldn’t tell county leaders what happened.”

Reporter Francis Scarcella contributed to this report