In just over a week on the job, Charnes has experienced that friendliness from strangers commenting on her outfit at the grocery store, business owners asking for her feedback, or outreach from people in the community.
Her first day was March 1, the day before Market on Main. Charnes jumped straight into running the Saturday event with 70-plus vendors.
“It was my first time to ever run something like that, and I liked it,” she said.
Charnes grew up in Lake Travis and Dripping Springs and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a broadcast journalism degree.
Instead of pursuing journalism, she began her career in Dallas working in TV advertising sales. Her husband decided to move to Austin, where the couple started Westbank Dry Cleaning.
Over 25 years, Charnes and her now ex-husband grew the business to nine locations before selling it in February 2018.
While at the business, Charnes was marketing director and partnered with Dress for Success, which gives professional attire to women in need, and Prom Rack, which provides prom clothes to foster students.
“I always loved the outreach part of our business,” Charnes said.
In the nearly year after selling the business, Charnes remained busy with a contract job for a nonprofit and volunteer work.
Her fiance lives in Horseshoe Bay, and Charnes spent time in the area the past few years. A neighbor mentioned the chamber job opening, so Charnes applied.
“I want something to do that I’m excited about,” she said. “I’m not ready to retire.”
Charnes admits she’ll have to learn the ropes when it comes to running large events, but chamber leaders don’t see a problem in that.
“(Chamber leaders who interviewed her) said ‘Yeah, but you know how to speak the language of the other businesses in town, and we haven’t really had that,’” she said.
Charnes said she wants to leverage her experience to work with chamber members and businesses when coordinating events.
“That’s what I hope I can be able to bring to this, is being able to really listen to what the members and businesses in the community want and need,” Charnes added.