Jim Dantona – President and CEO –
joins the Chamber of Commerce with more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sector helping businesses grow and create jobs. His private sector leadership experience combined with his knowledge of how government operates makes Jim uniquely qualified to lead our Chamber of Commerce organization.
Over the past decade, Jim has served in executive staff positions for three Los Angeles City Council members, including chief of staff for Councilwoman Nury Martinez and for Councilman Tony Cardenas. He also served as interim chief of staff and senior planning deputy for Councilwoman Wendy Greuel. These roles gave Jim the opportunity to become a leader on economic development policy and to establish links with the private sector.
Jim’s extensive private sector experience focused on helping businesses grow and create jobs. As director of legislative affairs for Auto Parkit, he worked with government agencies to facilitate construction projects that created hundreds of new jobs. As human resources manager for Encino-based Westrec Marinas, Jim dealt with government regulations at all levels. And as property controller for Lake Natoma Inn, he managed large payrolls and the company budget.
Jim earned his bachelor’s degree in government from California State University, Sacramento. He and his wife Jennifer have spent the last 25 years visiting and falling in love with the SLO community. Having recently relocated to the San Luis Obispo area, Jim and Jennifer are looking forward to taking in all the beauty of our community.
Sandi Sigurdson – Interim CEO of the SLO Chamber | Executive Director of Leadership San Luis Obispo
Sandi Sigurdson began her tenure as the executive director of Leadership SLO in January 2010.
As executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony from 1994 to 2009, Sandi managed their growth from a small community orchestra with a budget of $300,000 to the respected and successful organization it is today with a budget of over $1 million.
A graduate of Leadership Class I, Sandi has twice served as a member of the SLO Chamber board of directors, has served as a San Luis Obispo as a city planning commissioner, and worked for the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) from 1991-1994, later serving on its board of directors. Past president of the Central Coast Planned Giving Council, Sandi was honored by Cuesta College as a Woman of Distinction in 2004. In 2009, she served as president of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. More recently Sandi served on the board of Middlehouse, a men’s sober living home, as well as the SLO Symphony board of directors
Sandi is married to Steve McGrath; they have three children and four grandchildren. “Turns out,” she notes, “grandchildren are waaaay more fun.” Before entering nonprofit work, Sandi spent 15 years in hotel and restaurant management, starting as a maid and dishwasher.
Sandi prays regularly for relief from the burden of self-righteousness and is grateful for Central Coast oak trees.
Michelle Axberg – Administrative Assistant
Administrative Assistant Michelle Axberg has worn many hats since joining the Chamber in November 2013. She currently occupies the big chair at the front of the office from which she runs the show, as well as the CEO’s calendar, and generally makes sure that the Chamber office runs like the well-oiled machine she has created.
Michelle is the (wo)man behind the curtain. No one knows exactly how she does what she does, the location of her secret stash of time, or where she finds the energy to think up the one liners she slings throughout the day.
What is known is that she’s originally from Valencia, yes, her first job was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and she graduated from San Diego State University with a journalism degree, with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in psychology.
Her boyfriend, son and two cats make up her family unit and they enjoy walking the hills around the Cal Poly campus, the beach, barbecuing and cheering on her son at his club soccer games.
Melissa James – Director of Economic Initiatives and Regional Advocacy
Melissa James joined the Chamber in January 2017 after serving on the Board of Directors. Appointed the director of economic initiatives and regional advocacy, Melissa is charged with growing the Chamber’s reach in the region and expanding our economic development efforts.
Melissa brings a strong background in public policy, advocacy and economic development to 895 Monterey St. having spent time as Capitol Director for former State Senator Sam Blakeslee in Sacramento, helping create program initiatives at the Institute for Advance Technology and Public Policy at Cal Poly, and most recently as the director of economic development at the Economic Vitality Corporation.
Melissa graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in social science and a minor in psychology.
When she’s not bringing more employers into San Luis Obispo County, Melissa can usually be found chasing her two daughters around.
Jill LeMieux – Director of Membership
Jill LeMieux joined the SLO Chamber team in February 2013 and became director of membership in July of that same year.
A Cal Poly grad, Jill worked as the media manager at The Tribune before serving as the director of marketing and business development at Patagonia Foods. She ran The Americorps Mentoring Program, served as a crisis counselor and the executive director of the SARP Center, volunteered locally with foster kids through the Department of Social Services all while spending eight years as a board member with CASA of San Luis Obispo, and seven years as a commissioner with the SLO City Park & Recreation Department. She still spends countless hours volunteering with local community organizations.
Stéphane Michel – Membership Sales Associate
Stéphane Michel joined the Chamber in March 2017 as the membership sales associate, and in that capacity he works alongside our director of membership to recruit new members and promote the SLO Chamber through various special projects.
Stéphane has a background in software business development having worked with local firms, Shopatron / Kibo and IQMS. As a Case Manager for Community Action Partnership (CAPSLO) he helped clients increase skills in order to live independently and become self-reliant and self-sufficient. And, being French, he also helped to start numerous French crêpes specialty businesses along the California Coast.
Stéphane graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in International Business with an emphasis in Spanish, Latin America and Western Europe.
When he is not cooking crêpes for his co-workers, Stéphane enjoys his time with his Templeton-raised wife and younger daughter, and is avidly researching new ways to engaged and communicate with his three teenagers.
Dusty Colyer-Worth – Visitor Center Manager
Dusty Colyer-Worth officially joined the Chamber staff as the Visitor Center Manager in February 2016, bringing a thorough background in marketing and retail management from his years with Whole Foods and New Frontiers before that. Managing a Visitor Center staff of seven customer service professionals, Dusty leads the Chamber’s guest services efforts. Meet the team.
Molly Kern – Director of Governmental Affairs
Director of Governmental Affairs Molly Kern works with the Chamber president/CEO, the Board of Directors and advisory bodies to develop policy positions on relevant community issues. Leading the Chamber’s legislative efforts, she advocates on behalf of the business community on the local and state level.
Since joining the Chamber team in 2012, Molly has served in various roles, most recently as the director of communications and business education. Currently, she also oversees the communications team, the Chamber’s tourism PR work, and business education programs.
Molly has a degree in philosophy of public policy and ethics from UCSB and is a graduate of Leadership SLO Class XXIV.
Sally Buffalo Taylor – Business Education Coordinator
Sally Buffalo Taylor worked an earlier stint at the Chamber running the websites and creating content before heading out to the East Coast and the great unknown of parenthood. She returneth as the business education coordinator.
An alumna of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and recovering journalist, Sally hasn’t been able to go cold turkey and still works as a freelance writer, editor and content consultant.
When she’s not researching, scheduling and making sure speakers don’t go on stage before the emcee is ready, Sally is writing about craft beer or camping with her husband and son.
Lori Bjorklund-Silva – Member Accounts Manager
As member accounts manager, Lori Bjorklund-Silva handles the registration for all of the Chamber’s events, including but not limited to, Good Morning SLO, Insight Studio and the Legislative Lunch series.
Lori spends most of her time managing and updating the Chamber’s member database, creating new member profiles and keeping information current for our Membership Directory, Visitors Guide and online listings.
In short, without Lori there would be no chairs at Chamber events for there would be no one registered for said events nor would there be member profile information and therefore, in a sense, no members and as a result no Chamber. A very sad thought.
Along with managing registration, member accounts and generally making sure the Chamber exists, Lori is the lead contact for, billing questions and membership listing updates.
Keri Forsberg – Communications Coordinator
Keri Forsberg started working at the Chamber in June 2015 as a full-time tourism intern fulfilling the final requirement for a degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration from Cal Poly.
Today, serving as the Chamber’s communications coordinator, Keri works closely with Molly as part of the communications team. Though her work focuses mainly on social media management and facilitation for all Chamber-run outlets, Keri shares her passion for our community with visitors every Tuesday, when greeting and providing directions and recommendations to all who come in our downtown Visitor Center.