News Column

Hispanic Chamber Without a Director

Aug. 22, 2012

Brooke Edwards Staggs

High Desert Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The High Desert Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Victorville, Calif., has no executive director -- and no plans to hire one anytime soon.

After seven years overseeing the nonprofit business group, Vickie Cabriales is no longer in the post. She declined to comment Tuesday on the change or her career with the HDHCC.

"Unfortunately it is a personnel matter, so all I can really say is Vickie is no longer with the chamber," said Eric Camarena, chairman of the Hispanic chamber's board of directors.

Camarena said the change was effective last week, but that he couldn't discuss what prompted it.

Cabriales was named Executive of the Year by the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in 2010, with the state group citing 700 percent growth for the HDHCC under her leadership and her spearheading of new programs such as the Legislative Power Lunch and Small Business Assistance Day. Cabriales was also in charge when the HDHCC was recognized as the top Hispanic chamber in California for 2008-09 by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

However, Cabriales fell into some controversy in spring 2011, when concerns mounted over her compensation and whether she'd benefited financially through her marriage to Victorville Mayor Pro Tem Rudy Cabriales.

After a year-long review, the District Attorney's Office recently determined Rudy Cabriales broke state law when he voted to approve $50,000 in city sponsorships of the HDHCC. Per Vickie Cabriales' contract at the time the sponsorships were approved, she received a 10-percent commission for each sponsorship plus an annual bonus equal to 10 percent of the chamber's net operating income, on top of her base salary of $50,000. However, the DA said no action would be taken since the practice has stopped and there didn't appear to be malicious intent.

Vickie Cabriales had been out on leave from her post with the HDHCC for some time. When reached briefly Tuesday, she said she wasn't feeling well and didn't want to discuss the matter.

The HDHCC isn't looking to fill the executive director spot at this time, Camarena said. For now, he said the chamber's one employee and its board will be stepping in to run the organization.

"It's going to be a team effort," he said.

Camarena said all of the chamber's events are scheduled to proceed as usual, from the annual Spice of Life multicultural celebration coming in October to the HDHCC's monthly "eye opener" breakfast meetings.

"We're excited about the future," he said. "We're really excited about taking the next step."



Source: (c)2012 the Daily Press (Victorville, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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