DAYTON — A week after announcing their resignations from the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the executive and assistant directors have been terminated from the organization, Chamber President Brian St Clair said this morning.

Executive Director Melissa Bryan and Assistant Director Caitlyn Robins will not be staying through the end of their originally expected work dates of Aug. 31 and Aug. 26, respectively.

St Clair said the resignations came days after a performance review for the director.

“Since we’ve received their resignations, we’ve tried to be as positive as possible in our dealings with the director and assistant director,” he said. “We were disappointed in the negativity” of a letter to the editor Bryan and Robins sent to community newspapers Tuesday.

In the letter, Bryan and Robins said unclear work expectations exacerbated by an undefined organizational mission at the Chamber created a “toxic work environment.”

“How do you make change in an organization you have no way of holding accountable? How do you make a statement heard around the community? You resign,” Bryan and Robins wrote in the letter.

The piece was sent to the Union-Bulletin by Robins and was intended to serve as the official statement for the two since announcing last week their plans to leave the organization.

That announcement hinted at discord in the operation, but at the time Robins would only say the resignations “were due to lack of support from the board” of directors.

The letter was expected to be included in the Dayton Chronicle and The Times of Waitsburg, on racks today.

“We as employees of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce can no longer accept a lack of training, negligible participation, and ignorance surrounding the daily operations of the Chamber from our board of directors,” the letter said.

The intent of the statement, it continued, was to “bring to light some of the issues affecting the Chamber and encourage the community to fight for a Chamber that represents them.”

Longtime Chamber board member Bette Lou Crothers said this morning she had not seen the letter.

“I have worked on many, many boards in this town over my 38 years in business,” Crothers said. “I have never worked on one as busy and as involved as the Chamber board.”

The board was set to hold its regularly scheduled meeting for noon today. St Clair said the search for new staff will begin immediately. The Chamber’s next big event is the Dayton On Tour and is coming Oct. 5. He said volunteers and committee heads are prepared and ready to move forward with the event. 

Robins joined Chamber staff about six months ago. In her initial contact with the Union-Bulletin, she said she plans to join the staff at Dayton Memorial Library in September. Bryan has been at the helm of the Chamber about a year and a half. Before that, she was assistant director.

“We are both deeply saddened at having to submit our resignations, as we still have great hope for the Chamber and truly enjoy supporting the community through our work,” their letter to the editor said.

The most specific concerns spelled out were the failure of the board “to provide clear expectations for job performance and duties, or actionable items to improve upon,” the letter said. “This stems from structural inadequacies within the organization. For example, board members cannot agree on the mission of the Chamber: whether our goal is to support the business community by being a membership organization, or to organize and throw community events.”

Bryan and Robins encouraged the community to involve itself through active committee/event involvement and with businesses willing to become members and function through volunteerism.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

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