Sandas resigns as Chamber of Commerce CEO

Palo Alto business group begins search for new leader

The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new leader after CEO Paula Sandas announced her plan to step down at the end of September.

Sandas, who took over the top position at the Chamber in January 2009, told the Weekly that she had tendered her resignation earlier this month and accepted a position with Satellite Telework Center, a Santa Cruz County-based company that specializes in establishing office spaces in small and medium-sized communities. These facilities enable customers to rent offices, cubicles or cafe spaces.

The company plans to branch out to Palo Alto, Sandas said.

"When this opportunity was presented to me, I was eager to participate," Sandas said. "It's a good concept. I really like the idea of sharing space, sharing resources, having people interacting and developing the community."

Sandas said she would stay at the Chamber until Sept. 30.

Dan Dykwel, president of the Chamber board, said the organization learned about Sandas' resignation earlier this month and has already begun to plan the leadership transition. The Chamber has engaged the services of Paul Wright, a business consultant and former board chairman, to serve as an interim director while the board looks for a permanent replacement, Dykwel said.

Dykwel said Wright's stint at the Chamber would last about 120 days and would overlap with those of Sandas and her replacement. Wright, who last year served as the interim leader of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, is scheduled to begin his duties with the Chamber in mid-September.

"She has been a great asset to the Chamber," Dykwel said of Sandas. "We had some financial difficulties in the past, and she's been very aggressive in resolving those for the Chamber.

"We're very appreciative of the work she has done."

A longtime Palo Alto resident, Sandas had served as an associate publisher at the Weekly and as an analyst for Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss. She had served on Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission and has been involved in various fundraising efforts for local schools and nonprofit groups. In 1991, Sandas received the Chamber's Athena Award, which recognizes local businesswomen.

Sandas said she is confident about the Chamber's direction after her departure.

"I think the foundation is there for the next Chamber CEO to take things on and move forward," Sandas said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

Paula did a terrific job of replacing Sandra Lonnquist & filling her large shoes. It was a joy for me to have been able to work with Paula, during the year of 2009.

In many ways, all of Palo Alto is better, as a result of Paula's excellent contributions, enthusiasm & support.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Gross
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:35 am

Paula accepted the challenge of leading the chamber out of a very messy time. She presented a strong direction, built coalitions and took finacial responsiblity for the viability of the group.
The business community and the city at large is better because of her service. We are most grateful.

Like this comment
Posted by Susan Frank
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Paula did a stellar job for the last two years - she should be commended for her leadership. And the chamber is in good hands during this transition with Paul Wright, a superb chamber leader who also understands Palo Alto. I wish you the very best, Paula - thank you for keeping the chamber strong!

Like this comment
Posted by Susan Frank
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Oops... I meant 2.5+ years! Time flies when you are having fun.

Like this comment
Posted by Georgie Gleim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Paula, you will be missed. The Chamber has made great strides with your leadership. Paul will do a good job of handling the transition, and it sounds as though you have an exciting opportunity in front of you. Good luck!

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph Kott
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Paula has been an tremendous asset to the Palo Alto community for a long time. Her new job advancing telework centers will contribute to better commuting condtions in the region, including within and to/from Palo Alto. Good luck, Paula!

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

When Paula was on the Planning Commission I observed that she always voted for the developer. So she was well prepared to be on the Chamber of Commerce.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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