The chamber’s board of directors issued a brief statement saying Leben is no longer on the job.
Boardmember Steve Savoy gave vague reasons as to why Leben was let go. He said a recent report showed that 86 percent of about 100 business people interviewed felt the chamber “needed to make significant changes.
“Basically we decided to move in a new direction, so Terri is no longer with us,” he said.
Savoy said the report was from National Community Development Services, a company hired by the City of Montrose to look at four economic development organizations, including the chamber, Montrose Area Merchants Association, the Montrose Visitors Bureau, and Montrose Economic Development Corporation.
“We are following up on recommendations by the Office of Economic Development to put them all under one umbrella,” he said. “We will be making a proposal to the city council Thursday night.”
David Spear, spokesman for the city, said the report by NCDS is part of an assessment process that began in January by the steering committee of the Montrose Downtown Development Authority.
During the July meeting when the board voted 11-7 to keep Leben, executive boardmembers Randy Havens and Bob Pistor accused Leben of insubordination for initially refusing to cut salaries or staff.
At the same meeting, boardmember Dave Fullterton said that Leben, who had only been on the job for 10 months at the time, inherited a big budget mess and was doing a great job. He called the attempt to fire her “a coup.”
Leben said this week she didn’t understand why she was fired. She said the chamber was in terrible financial shape when she took over but the board didn’t want to give up sponsoring community events, even though the budget was not in good shape. She said they were particularly upset when she decided chamber couldn’t afford to sponsor the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March.
“The past directors ran it into the ground, and I was actually making headway on a shoestring,” she said. “They cut my staff drastically, cut off both my arms, but I kept running.”
The way she was fired was also unsettling, she said, when boardmembers Rich Parr and Rick Anderson came to her office on Monday and asked for her resignation.
She was shocked, but refused because she wouldn’t have been able to file for unemployment, she said.
“You’d think I had embezzled the way they came in and told me to box my stuff and get out,” she said. “I said, ‘You never gave me a review and never looked at the good things I’ve done.’ ”
Leben said Parr and Anderson said she was being fired for “repeated failure to follow directives given to you by the board.”
Those directives were not spelled out, she said.
“I don’t know what directive I failed to follow in the last couple of months,” she said.
Leben said she is still considering whether to file a lawsuit against the chamber for defaming her character and wrongful termination.