Ermina Karim – President / CEO
As president/CEO, Ermina Karim works with the Chamber’s 21-member Board of Directors to set priorities, carry out goals and ensure the organization’s fiscal responsibility.
Moving into her current role in 2011, Ermina started as the Chamber’s director of governmental affairs and quickly rose up in the ranks to become vice president of governmental affairs and economic development. In that role, she represented the local business community to city, state and federal governments, and led the Chamber and the community in its economic development efforts.
She previously spent two years as a reporter with The Tribune covering the county’s business community. Prior to moving to the Central Coast in 2005, Ermina worked in New York City as a vice president in Equity Capital Markets at Credit Suisse, a leading global financial services firm. She also spent several years as a financial journalist for print and online publications. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
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.
Charlene Rosales – Director of Governmental Affairs
Director of Governmental Affairs Charlene Rosales works with the Chamber president and the Board of Directors to develop policy positions on relevant community issues. Leading the Chamber’s legislative efforts, Charlene advocates on behalf of the business community on the local and state level.
As a community leader, Charlene has served three terms as chair of the City of San Luis Obispo’s Human Relations Commission and was a member of the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan steering committee. She also served as a legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society and sat on the boards of the SLO County YMCA, the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Daybreak and has been active with many other organizations.
Prior to joining the Chamber, Charlene worked for more than eight years at the United Way of San Luis Obispo County, where she spent five years as chief operating officer.
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.
Sandi Sigurdson – Executive Director of Leadership San Luis Obispo
Sandi Sigurdson began her tenure as the executive director of Leadership SLO in January 2010. From 1994 to 2009 she was executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony and managed its growth from a small community orchestra with a budget of $300,000 to the respected, successful and internationally known organization it is today with a budget of over $1 million.
A graduate of Leadership Class I, Sandi has twice served on the Board of Directors for the SLO Chamber, is a former SLO City Planning Commissioner and worked for the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) from 1991-1994, later serving on their Board of Directors. Sandi is past president of the Central Coast Planned Giving Council and was honored as a Cuesta College Woman of Distinction in 2004. In 2009, Sandi served as president of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.
Sandi is married to Steve McGrath, and they have three children and two grandchildren. Turns out grandchildren are waaaay more fun. Before entering nonprofit work, Sandi spent 15 years in hotel and restaurant management, starting that career as a maid and dishwasher.
Sandi prays regularly for relief from the burden of self-righteousness and is grateful for Central Coast oak trees.
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 Communications and Business Education
Molly Kern has been with the Chamber in various roles since December 2012, currently she occupies the big chair as the director of communications and business education.
In this role Molly works to share the “why” San Luis Obispo is a wonderful place to vacation, live, work and generally enjoy life, while leading tourism PR efforts for the City of San Luis Obispo.
In addition to public relations work, she also coordinates Insight Studio, the Chamber’s professional development series which was created in 2014 to provide educational, inspirational and relationship building opportunities to our members.
Molly graduated from UCSB in 2012 with a degree in philosophy of public policy and ethics and is a graduate of Leadership SLO.
Sally Buffalo Taylor – Good Morning SLO 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 Good Morning SLO Coordinator.
Sally leads development of the monthly community breakfast, pulling together speakers and topics to create an engaging program that connects, educates and inspires.
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 Ermina is ready, she’s 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.