The Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce announced Aug. 23 in a release that Kammy Kennelley-Downs has accepted the position of chamber CEO.

She is expected to start her new position at the chamber Sept. 19, replacing Sydney Bland, who resigned in May as president and CEO of the chamber.

Downs comes to the chamber with experience in writing grants and programs, as well as a passion for collaborating with other businesses.

In her most recent role as arts director at Ark City Arts, she wrote a $22,000 artists mentoring grant to benefit local artists and bring people who are passionate about the arts to the V.J. Wilkins Family Center for the Arts at the Burford Theatre. In addition, Downs has 18 years’ experience as an art educator.

While teaching at the Grove School of Redlands in California, she wrote an Advanced Placement studio art program and a University of California-approved high school design program for her school. She also started an annual student juried art exhibit and contest.

Downs is passionate about facilitating growth and finding ways to collaborate with others so people mutually benefit each other’s skills and strengths, the release states. During her two years serving as arts director at Ark City Arts, she as developed the arts programs and added several teachers.

She said she hopes to be able to use her experience and passion for development at the chamber of commerce.

“The chamber is one of Ark City’s biggest assets and I count it an honor to join this organization,” Downs said. “While I will truly miss working as Ark City Arts’ arts director, I look forward to getting to know even more Ark City business owners and working with (the) Ark City chamber board of directors and staff.”

Downs and her husband, Gary, moved to Ark City two years ago to live closer to her parents and grown children after having lived nine years in Yucaipa, Calif., and two years in Liberal.

“We are truly excited to have Kammy bring her talents to the chamber as CEO and look forward to working with her to fulfill the Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce mission statement to support, strengthen, promote, serve, and communicate with the member businesses … in a reliable, responsive, courteous and credible manner,” said Sarah Long, chair of the chamber’s executive board.