LAKE PLACID — Grace and panache — those are two qualities with which Executive Director Eileen May runs the Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce in the heart of downtown Lake Placid.
May was nominated anonymously for the Highlands News-Sun Woman of the Year Highlander award. She was announced the winner of the award at the second annual Highlander Awards banquet, held July 18 at Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel.
Whether its attending town meetings or organizing networking mixers, the person who nominated Eileen May for Woman of the Year said she juggles tons of balls in the air and makes it look easy. It is said she cares for her volunteers and makes everyone feel as if they are a part of the team.
May explained what was going through her mind while waiting to find out who won the Woman of the Year award.
“It was an overwhelming experience,” she said. “When I looked around the room and saw all the talent that was there and I knew the two women that were competing for the same award. It was breathtaking when I heard my name called by Don Elwell (presenter).”
May and her husband of 37 years, Buddy, owned a cottage at Lake June Resort before deciding it was time to move permanently. They have a grown daughter and son and have 10 grandchildren.
May was in human resources in the banking industry in South Florida and Boston before heading to the Town of Murals. Unsure of where she would find gainful employment, she interviewed with the chamber’s board of directors and was hired; that was nearly 20 years ago. May wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in Boston Harbor.
After being hired by the chamber, May enrolled in the Leadership Highlands program and was the president of her class. Since then, May and the chamber volunteers greet and answer questions from some 10,000 residents and tourists annually.
May said she is supported by Office Administrative Assistant Jennifer Bush. She said she couldn’t do her job effectively without the 20 volunteers who are all retired professionals with about 20 years experience working at the chamber.
She said her proudest moments with the chamber are participating in the award-winning Caladium Festival and Caladium Car & Bike show.
“Working with all of the volunteers is what makes an event successful,” May said. “I am also very proud of the volunteers that support us each and every day.”
May told the Highlands News-Sun that she only wants the best for the town in the future.
“I want to continue to make a difference in Lake Placid,” May said. “This is my home, my community. I want to continue to ensure that the Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce is a state-of-the-art chamber of commerce; a chamber that our members can be proud of.”
The Mural Society is housed in the chamber building, and May has worked closely with its founders, Harriet Porter and her late husband, Bob.
“I also want to say that I value my relationship with Bob and Harriet Porter; it has been very rewarding,” May said. “We work as a team and support each other. It has been a solid relationship since day one and will continue to be so.”
AdventHealth Sebring was the sponsor of the Highlander Awards banquet, held last month at Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel. Alan Jay Automotive Network was the sponsor of the Woman of the Year award.