Jim Dantona – President and CEO
Jim Dantona 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 – 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.
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.
Molly Kern – Director of Governmental Affairs
As 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.
Molly has a degree in philosophy of public policy and ethics from UCSB and is a graduate of Leadership SLO Class XXIV.
Jacqueline Clark-Charlesworth – Director of Communications and Business Education
Jacqueline Clark-Charlesworth joined the SLO Chamber team in 2018 as director of communications and business education after a career in retail management. She moved to the Central Coast from San Diego in 2016 when her partner accepted a local teaching position.
Jacqui brings a strong background in marketing, brand development and public relations. She has worked for multiple international brands. Most recently she managed the Higuera Street location of Ambiance, a boutique retailer of women’s high-end fashion with additional stores scattered across the Central Coast.
As a part of her role with the Chamber, Jacqui oversees the communications team, the Chamber’s tourism PR work and business education programs.
Jacqui earned her bachelor’s degree from California State University San Marcos, where she majored in mass media communications and minored in liberal studies.
When she’s not heading the Chamber’s communications team, you can probably find Jacqui enjoying some local libations with friends or exploring SLO County’s stunning open space with her partner and their four-legged child, Penelope.
Michelle Axberg – Operations and Administrative Coordinator
Michelle Axberg has worn many hats since joining the Chamber in Nov. 2013. She gave her heart to sales for 11 years at Kodak in Los Angeles before a ten-year stint at The Tribune; most recently, she spent two years selling Chamber memberships. Michelle 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 a well-oiled machine.
Michelle is the woman 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.
Michelle is originally from Santa Clarita, and her first job was at Six Flags Magic Mountain. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in psychology.
Her boyfriend, son and two cats make up her family unit. They enjoy walking the hills around the Cal Poly campus; visiting the beach; barbecuing; and cheering on the LA Dodgers, University of Oregon Ducks and SLO High soccer team.
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.
Lori Bjorklund-Silva – Member Accounts Manager
As member accounts manager since 2005, Lori Bjorklund-Silva 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.
Lori handles the registration for all Chamber events, such as Good Morning SLO, Insight Studio and the Legislative Lunch series. Along with managing registration, member accounts, Lori is the lead contact for questions regarding billing and membership listing updates. Her work helps ensure that the Chamber is a vibrant, member-based and member-responsive organization.
Born and raised in SLO, Lori is a fifth-generation resident. Married to high school sweet-heart, Mike, Lori’s family includes son, Dylan, daughter Kailyn and “favorite” son-in-law, Cole. Family is her passion—she is thrilled to be an auntie to one nephew and two nieces. Lori feels lucky to live just 10 minutes from the beach, and she is proud to be a graduate of Leadership SLO, Class XX.
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 Jacqui as part of the communications team. She is responsible for social media management and facilitation for all Chamber-run outlets, and, an expert photographer, she is largely responsible for the Chamber’s visual brand and photographic representation.
Keri shares her passion for our community with friends and visitors, and can be spotted hiking the beautiful local trails and sampling the regional varietals at local wineries.
Kaila Anderson – Membership Relations
Kaila Anderson joined SLO Chamber’s membership relations team in Nov. 2018 working alongside our director of membership to solicit new members, and to service and retain current members.
With a background in marketing and economics from Cal Poly, Kaila most recently served as director of marketing and communications for the Economic Vitality Corporation. In that capacity, she led a rebrand of the organization and collaborated with business and local government on policy and program development. Her position exposed her to the big picture issues that effect our local economy, including housing, infrastructure and workforce development.
When she’s not out and about with the business community, you can find Kaila playing golf, hiking or, most importantly, cheering on the San Francisco Giants.
Sally Buffalo Taylor – Good Morning San Luis Obispo Coordinator
Sally Buffalo Taylor worked an earlier stint at the Chamber running the websites and creating content before heading to the East Coast and becoming a mother.
Sally leads development of Good Morning SLO. For this series, she pulls 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 the emcee is ready, Sally is writing about craft beer or camping with her husband and son.
Amy Hewes – Writer and Insight Studio Coordinator
Amy Hewes joined the Chamber in Dec. 2018 following a career as director of marketing and communications for Cal Poly College of Engineering.
At Cal Poly, Amy was responsible for strategic planning of the college public relations and advancement communications program; she managed all print and e-communications production; and she led media relations and served as college spokesperson.
In addition to her Chamber position, Amy writes a monthly column for New Times addressing national, state and local issues. In former lives, she served as assistant director of admissions for Wells College, executive administrator for the Planning and Conservation League, and director of Californians Against Waste. She helped lead a grassroots legislative lobbying campaign and statewide initiative for a deposit on throwaway beverage containers.
A graduate of Smith College, Amy earned her master’s degree in English from Cal Poly. Married to poet Kevin Clark, who brings her words every day, Amy ‘s an avid reader, gardener, ocean swimmer and hiker. She is grateful for her three book groups, especially her mother-daughter group now in its seventeenth year.