Duncan named head of Warren chamber

Mar. 05, 2014 @ 06:24 PM

WARRENTON — Charla Duncan brings an interesting mix of interests and skills to her job as executive director of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce.

Duncan, who began her work with the organization at the beginning of February, has been a teacher, a fundraiser and an administrator. She combines that background with a strong belief in community building, networking and the virtues of rural life.

One of her first efforts was to learn more about the Warren County business community.

“I’m a big data person,” she said. “I created a survey for our members to fill in some gaps.”

She said membership records contain basic information but don’t show how many businesses are owned by those in different age groups, by females or by minorities.

She thinks it’s important for her — and for chamber members and the public — to know such things as which members have websites and how successful that online presence has been in expanding business.

Duncan would also like to see more individual members, including artists, farmers and self-employed individuals.

Matching words with deeds, she is working on the chamber’s website to make it more informative and responsive.

“Underlying so much of this is connecting with each other and connecting with the community,” she said. “Networking is really important. I’m looking for things we can do as a network to promote the community.

“I miss teaching, but I was interested in other ways I could be involved in the community.”

Her love of education is evident in her approach to her chamber position, which she sees as a learning experience, for herself as well as for chamber members.

“I want members to see the value of the chamber,” she said. “We’re not just asking you for money. We’re also educating you, helping you find useful intersections.”

Duncan spent much of her first month on the job orienting herself, getting to know chamber members, working on the website and modernizing the office, she said.

Duncan is new to the position but not to the area.

“I was born and raised in Warren County,” she said.

Her parents are Charles and Sallye Duncan of Macon. Her father owns and operates Duncan Hauling. Her mother is a retired teacher.

After graduating from Warren County High School in 2004, Duncan attended UNC Greensboro on a scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English. She also earned a teaching certificate.

During her time in Guilford County, she worked as a fundraiser for the Greensboro Roller Derby League, a non-profit organization she helped found.

Duncan taught English in High Point for three years before enrolling in New York University, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration.

While in New York City, Duncan worked as a program assistant for the NYC Healthy Relationship Training Academy, a unit of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

She returned to Warren County last July.

Duncan sees great potential for the area.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have faith in Warren County and rural America,” she said.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.