Jessica Accamando has taken the reins of the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau after predecessor Maureen Hunt retired last week.
Hunt left the chamber after 17 years, rising from office manager to interim executive director position and then, in 2011, CEO and president.
Accamando, meanwhile, is a business owner and 10-year resident of Hermosa Beach who helped launch HermosaOne last year, a nonprofit formed to promote the city and to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. She’s never served on the chamber board, but has been a member, she said.
Accamando took over the chamber’s top post this week.
“I have no real interest ever in going back to working for a corporation or a company or a brand,” Accamando said. “But the chamber is a different story; it’s part of my community. I consider it a service, just like maybe running for office. I consider it a way to give back.”
Accamando will take over the chamber at a time when many businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, especially restaurants, which haven’t been able to have customers indoors for nearly a year and only recently were allowed to once again resume in-person dining outdoors.
Hermosa Beach Mayor Justin Massey, for his part, lauded the chamber’s new leader in a Monday, Feb. 8, statement.
“The Chamber is lucky to have Hermosa resident and entrepreneur Jessica Accamando replace Maureen,” he said, “and we look forward to working with Jessica.”
To survive the pandemic, businesses have had to pivot and “figure out works and what doesn’t work,” said Accamando, who also runs a communications consulting company called Creative Fish Studio.
“Most of the retail shops here in town,” she said, “pivoted to web sales or local delivery or using social media to promote products.”
Accamando said she will keep HermosaOne alive to further guide businesses through a virtual environment.
“I do ask myself what’s going to help businesses right now,” she said, “especially in this unique environment that we’re in.”
Accamando will make $60,000 per year, she said, and she’s the chamber’s only employee.
As for Hunt, she said she will miss her work as the chamber’s top executive.
“I will greatly miss working with the City, its businesses and residents,” she wrote in a Tuesday email. “Hermosa Beach will always have a very special place in my heart.”
The Hermosa Beach City Council was scheduled to honor Hunt at its Tuesday meeting and is set to introduce Accamando, whose first day as CEO was Monday, at its Feb. 23 meeting.