After 32 years, there’s a new face in the executive director’s office for the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce.
Mark Doratti is still getting comfortable in the role, having started Monday, March 19, and is busy getting himself up to speed on all the tasks and responsibilities he is responsible for.
Claudia Blair, the former executive director, announced her retirement from the position in January.
Doratti comes to the role with an unusual background for business: he spent 30 years with the RCMP working throughout Saskatchewan.
While Doratti grew up in Williams Lake, he left in 1976, when he was 17. He only returned to the community in 2012.
Since then he’s worked as the manager of PTS Guard Services until 2017, and at Canadian Tire until he started at the chamber on Monday. For the past three-and-a-half years, he’s also served on the board of directors for the chamber, the past two as second vice president.
As an RCMP member, he said he spent much of his time finding ways to give back to the communities he was living in: coaching young people, or being involved with local groups, and being involved with the chamber is one of the ways he’s found in Williams Lake to do that.
“After I left the force in 2008, I really never found an opportunity that was available to me to give back to my community like I had been and when you have done that for a long time, it is like you are missing something,” he told the Tribune.
He’s looking forward to seeing ways he can make change on the organization, and looks forward to learning from Blair over the coming weeks as he adjusts to his new role.
“I’m open to change within the building and with our partners and I think we have some opportunity to be engaged in the community with partners that we may have not been engaged with before to the benefit of our community and business community,” he said.
He points to the area of member benefits and communications as a few of the areas he’ll be looking into.
“I think with the hit that everyone took with the fires of last summer, that really put a fire under everyone that we really need to make a difference.”
His experience within RCMP will come in handy, he said, in terms of leadership skills, communication, and his ability to listen and partner with people from elected officials downwards.
Initially, he said, he never expected to end up with the position of executive director, but put his best foot forward and applied.
To him, the Chamber is important in its advocacy and support for the community.
“I think that’s our job. It’s up to us to be busy and to advance business.”
Historically, he said the chamber has worked hard to present policy and affect change on a local, provincial and even national basis, and it’s a tradition he hopes to continue.
“We have a track record that I am going to at least try to maintain if not improve upon.”
In the meantime, he hopes to learn and draw from the knowledge Blair has to give.
“She has put her heart and soul and we can build on that and build on the partnerships in the community she has built.”
He emphasizes the need for the community to work as a team, even as there is the natural competition as businesses.
“At the end of the day, we need to look forward to the betterment of our community.”
He said he is looking into programs meant to help businesses become more prepared for future emergencies, to see if they will be useful for lakecity business in case of a future emergency.
Outside of work, Doratti said he enjoys things like fastball and hunting, although he’s done less of that since moving back to Williams Lake.
Between his wife, Kimberly Hall, and himself, they have seven children and five grandchildren.
He’s also excited by the prospect of getting to know more of the communities in the area through his work at the chamber.
“I put my heart into things,” he said.
“It’s going to be a work in progress and it’s not going to change overnight. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”