PHOTO: Picture of Michele Merryman Bell
Chamber director leaves
BY PENNYLYNN WEBB
Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Director Michele Merryman Bell has resigned, effective Friday, after serving in the position for just over a year. Merryman Bell became the chamber's director on June 4 of last year.
The Chamber is conducting a nationwide search for a new director, Chamber President Jake Mienk, publisher of the Herald-Press, said Friday.
“Michele has been a great director,” he said. “She’s done a tremendous job of creating an atmosphere and vibe at the chamber that have made our local businesses proud.”
Merryman Bell called serving the community and its businesses “pure joy.”
“With my own business background, it was exciting to be a part of growing Palestine, and starting some new and lasting programs and events that The Chamber will continue.”
Merryman Bell announced her resignation after her husband, William Bell, accepted a new job in the Austin area.
“This is not something we were looking for – it was just an opportunity that came along and was too good for my husband to pass up,” Merryman Bell said. “While I’m sad to go, I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life, and whatever career opportunity awaits me.”
Merryman Bell has lived in Palestine for eight years.
“There’s no replacing Palestine,” she said. “This community has been very good to me, from working at the high school to my role at The Chamber.”
She doesn't plan to be a stranger, however. Merryman Bell's parents and many of her friends live in Palestine; so she plans to visit the community from time to time.
Prior to taking The Chamber job, Merryman Bell was a district sales manager for Paychex in Dallas, where she trained consultants to work with business owners on employee and other issues.
In 2004, she was named the company's National Rookie of the Year, as well as Regional Salesperson of the Year.
From 2013 to 2016, Merryman Bell taught business management in the Palestine Independent School District, where she was named Palestine High School's Teacher of the Year in 2015.
A Texas native, Merryman Bell grew up in Houston and earned a business degree from Florida State University in 1992.
“The work she and The Chamber team have done is much appreciated,” Mienk said. “We wish Michele and William all the best in their new endeavors.”
A non-profit organization to promote business and economic development, The Chamber serves more than 450 businesses, professionals, associations, organizations, and people in the Palestine region.