A familiar face officially took the reins last week as new CEO/president of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce.
Julie N. Blaylock, a native of Long Island, N.Y. who first resided in Knox County while attending college, started with FWKCC more than five years ago as its executive assistant. She was elevated to the chamber’s top post following a unanimous vote by its Board of Directors, which came during a specially-called board meeting Tuesday evening, Feb. 7. It became official Wednesday, Feb. 8.
“I wasn’t expecting our chairman [Tim Williams] to announce it at the networking,” Blaylock said about the announcement during a FWKCC networking at Milestones Event Center, 11909 Kingston Pike, Thursday evening, Feb. 9. “It caught me very much off guard in a good way.
“It’s one of the few times I’ve been caught speechless,” she added. “I only wish my husband [Eric Blaylock] could have been there to see it.”
Praising her mentor, Bettye Sisco, who retired as FWKCC CEO/president Dec. 31 after more than 17 years of service, “I was very fortunate in the fact that Bettye gave me so many tools and resources to prepare me for the position,” Blaylock said. “Bettye was always about education and teaching, and she loved to teach. I was so lucky to be taught under her, teaching me about people and the importance of listening to others,” Blaylock added. “That was one of the biggest things that Bettye emphasized.”
Beginning her service to FWKCC in November 2011, Blaylock was appointed interim CEO/president from Jan. 1 until the interim tag was removed last week.
“She’s recognized and accepted by chamber members. She has a passion for the chamber, a passion for the members of the chamber and a passion to work with the members of the chamber,” Williams said. “And there were several members that actually had sent recommendation letters to me on her behalf.”
She will lead “just over 750” FWKCC member businesses, Williams said.
Blaylock first moved to Knox County when she transferred to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville “for my junior year. We had some friends who were here in East Tennessee and I had visited a few times,” she said. “And I fell in love with East Tennessee.”
After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at UTK, “I graduated with my master’s degree in English in 2004,” Blaylock said.
An office manager at a local architecture firm before her position “was no longer needed; it was a perfectly amicable parting,” Blaylock had time “to start searching for another position.”
With help from a friend, Kristin Grove, and some old-fashioned networking, “I found out about the [FWKCC] position,” Blaylock said. “Kristin knew me and thought that I would possibly be a good fit. And so they were able to put me in touch with Bettye.”