Tenure saw growth in marketing, membership
Anyone who has spent time in Twisp in the past decade may have a hard time imagining the Twisp Chamber of Commerce without Sandy Moody in a leadership role. But at the end of the year, that prospect will become a reality when Moody steps down from her role as chamber board president.
Moody moved to the Methow Valley half a century ago with her husband, Bill, when he was tapped to head the North Cascades Smokejumper Base. Both were teachers in Wenatchee at the time. Raised on a family wheat farm in Odessa, Moody is a self-described “small-town girl,” and Twisp — where she and Bill raised their children and started a bed-and-breakfast business — suited Moody just fine back then and has continued to do so for the past 50 years.
Moody got involved with the chamber in 2007 after opening Methow Suites, a cozy B&B in her home in the hills overlooking Twisp. “I figured if you have a business you join the chamber,” Moody said. “So I started going to chamber meetings. I think there were about eight of us and our budget was $2,000 a year.”
That $2,000, Moody says, was distributed to nonprofits in Twisp, pretty much the chamber’s only function. So it has been rewarding for Moody to see the changes and growth the chamber has experienced over the past decade, beginning with the organization’s inclusion of younger people with fresh ideas about the chamber’s role.
Moody cites a strategic plan, created during the chamber board leadership of former Methow Valley resident Amy Stork, as instrumental in galvanizing the chamber’s involvement with Twisp businesses.
“As our town and community grew and evolved, the chamber came alive,” Moody said. “We were convinced that the chamber should be doing more work to promote the town as a place to work and to conduct business. So we got after that LTAC [Lodging Tax Advisory Committee] money, and got more businesses to join, and we worked our way up to a $60,000 annual budget.”
Moody recalls a presentation that she, chamber board member Amanda Jackson Mott of Methow Arts, and former board member Jonathan Baker of eqpd created for the Twisp Town Council, asking for a larger share of the LTAC funds.
“At the end of the presentation, we said ‘And now you probably want to discuss this amongst yourselves and get back to us later.’ Councilmember Hans Smith stood up and said ‘I make a motion to give them what they’re asking for.’ And the motion passed,” Moody said. “They knew that we would spend the money well. And we have.”
Strategic moves like that have steadily increased the chamber’s effectiveness in Twisp. Moody also notes that hiring a marketing director was critical to the chamber’s success. Initially contracted out to Methow Arts, the marketing position grew big enough to require hiring a part-time employee: Jamie Petitto. “That was key, getting Jamie,” Moody said. “It’s a real challenge to keep up with her. A challenge, but a joy.”
Moody has been chamber board president for three years, after filling the role of vice president for three years prior to that. Although much of the president’s role is administrative — filling out applications for LTAC money and other grants — Moody said her real strength lies in interacting with people. “I enjoy promoting. I enjoy talking with people. I enjoy encouraging businesses to join the chamber,” Moody said.
Her outreach efforts have paid off: Chamber membership is up 30% over the past three years, and 80% of members renew annually.
With the support of an active executive committee (Vice President Don Linnertz of TwispWorks, Secretary Jeff Palmberg and Treasurer Shane Voigt), Moody said that she has been able to play to her strong suits and farm out some of the administrative work to the Twisp Visitor Information Center.
‘Heart of Twisp’
It’s not yet decided who will step into Moody’s position with the chamber, but Moody said that the board won’t face a leadership gap. “People on the board are smart and energetic,” she said. “They’re not afraid to voice their opinions, but everyone still gets along and respects each other’s ideas.”
As chamber board president, Moody has been in the unusual position of working closely with Twisp’s mayor — who is also her daughter-in-law — Soo Ing-Moody. “We don’t talk business at the dinner table,” Moody said. “Soo knows that it’s important to protect the integrity of town business, so we just don’t talk about it after hours.” She added, “But when there’s something good happening for the town, we celebrate.”
“Sandy has been instrumental in building a stronger Twisp chamber,” said Ing-Moody. “I know she cares deeply for the community and I admire her work and talent to engage both new and older businesses alike.”
“What was best for Twisp and its many businesses is always at the heart of [Sandy’s] leadership,” said artist and Town Council representative to the chamber Mark Easton.
“Sandy loves Twisp and the Methow Valley and her positive energy is contagious,” added Chamber board member Casey Bouchard of WasteWise, recalling how Moody likes to throw in a hearty word of encouragement when she sees him. “Onward!” Moody cheers.
Petitto said, “We’ve heard it said that Twisp is the heart of the Methow Valley. Well, let it be said that Sandy Moody is the heart of Twisp. She has been [the chamber’s] matriarch, bringing a genuine empathy and ongoing passion for our local businesses to every meeting” — while also bringing egg salad sandwiches so the board didn’t skip lunch.
When she steps down from the helm of the chamber, Moody intends to continue a life oriented around service. She has always been involved in community efforts and was for many years a familiar face in the school district. “I’ll still be involved with the chamber but not in an official capacity,” Moody said.
Now, Moody said, she plans to direct some of her energy toward her church, the Community Covenant Church in Twisp. “There are things that need to be done and individuals that need to be supported,” she said. Moody also plans to continue to re-open the Methow Suites, as COVID restrictions allow. She looks forward to the day when she can host a full house of guests again.
“I’m an extrovert,” Moody said. “I love to be with people. This thing of standing 6 feet back from people is really hard for me. But I know we have to do it.”
Petitto refers to more carefree social times with Moody. “To me, she was a combination of composed boss and doting godmother, and some of my most favorite moments over the last couple of years took place at her kitchen counter, when she offered me both her wisdom and a cup of hot tea,” Petitto said.
Social distancing comes with an extra sting for Moody this year, since she and Bill will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in December, and it’s a significant birthday year for her as well. “It’s celebration time!” she said. “But small celebrations, I guess.”
Chamber participation and leadership has been solely a labor of love, Moody said. “To see what’s gone on in our community has been a joy,” she said. “It has been absolutely wonderful to be a part of it.”