Marsha Ingrao leaves Woodlake Valley Chamber, cites poor leadership
Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce secretary Marsha Ingrao quits, posts on Facebook grievances with chamber board president Rudy Garcia
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
WOODLAKE – Marsha Ingrao has been a well known face among active groups in Woodlake. Mostly known for authoring “Images of America: Woodlake” by Arcadia Publishing, she had also been secretary of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce board while also running their Facebook page as a main marketing tool. However, as of last week she publicly announced her resignation of all Chamber activities.
“I can no longer support an organization which, under the leadership of the current president, overrides the bylaws, makes potential new business members feel uncomfortable during a meeting and changes rules on a whim,” Ingrao said in a departing blog post from her personal website.
President of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Rudy Garcia has served as president for five years and recently selected himself to serve as president again. He claims it is not unusual to reinstall themselves when nobody else is willing to take on the position, and while their bylaws are under review as Garcia claims they are.
Ingrao claims in her post that she nominated a board member to become president via email to all members, but the nomination was not presented.
“According to one member who attended the meeting, Rudy Garcia did present a written nomination for himself as president. After he read the nomination, one member stated that he reinstated himself,” Ingrao wrote.
Garcia claims the person Ingrao nominated was neither one of the 11 board members or a member of the Chamber, which is why he did not consider it.
Beyond the political strife, Ingrao says volunteers and benefactors have not been given their just recognition for Chamber projects like the Junior Docent Guide. She went on to say financial contributors such as the Tulare County Historical Society and the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake were not initially handed out, and only upon request from Ingrao was the Historical Society given 20 copies for their $1,500 donation. Meanwhile the Kiwanis club was not given copies for their contribution and Ingrao was not given copies for promotional purposes.
“The project took a year to complete, and many donated hours writing, proofreading, fact-checking and piloting the activities with students,” Ingrao said in her post. “As far as I know, none of us ever received a thank you letter for the time and the services from the Chamber of Commerce.”
“The comments she made were inappropriate. You know with all of her degrees and everything the way she did it was unprofessional,” Garcia said to the Sun-Gazette last week. “Ms. Ingrao’s comments have caused a lot of chaos and divisiveness.”
Ingrao resigned from the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce board this year. During her time on the board she served as secretary, helped in creating the Woodlake Museum and organized their main marketing arm on Facebook.
City manager Ramon Lara said Ingrao approached the City about the idea of starting a second chamber of commerce. Lara noted they have every right to move forward and the City would support them in their events the same way they do with service clubs, nonprofits, schools and the current Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Lara said the last time the City supported a Woodlake chamber event was when they hosted a car show in 2016.