Through the shifting economies and changes in city leadership, Sharon Silva has been the undeniable face and champion for the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, and after more than 16 years, she is ready to pass the baton on to someone new.
Silva, who has served for 16 and a half years as the president and CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced she will be retiring at the end of June. At the request of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, Silva will remain on as the chief executive officer for an unspecified time “to ensure a smooth transition of power to a new leader,” as stated in a news release.
“I was extremely saddened to hear the news that Sharon would be retiring after 20 years of service to the Turlock community,” said Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Kyle Kirkes. “The Chamber is not only losing an amazing and steadfast leader, but personally I am losing the opportunity to work with one of my dearest friends. However, I am extremely excited for her to start this next chapter in her life and enjoy her retirement. I’m confident that the Chamber, with its excellent Board of Directors and motivated and skilled staff, will continue to be a strong voice for business in the Turlock community. “
Before ever stepping into her role at the Chamber, Silva was working to better Turlock. As the head of the Turlock Downtown Association, Silva spearheaded a campaign to revitalize the downtown area, which by the mid 1990s had fallen into disrepair and was rarely frequented by Turlock citizens and visitors, alike. She developed the first downtown Property Based Improvement District, and in 1993 her efforts led to the city allocating millions into revitalizing downtown. Over the next several years the revitalization plan tackled everything from parking lots and lighting to infrastructure and landscaping. Store facades that had adopted a modern look during the 70s and 80s were renovated and restored to their original appearance. By 2001 the revitalization project was complete and downtown once again had a picturesque appeal to it.
Her efforts earned her recognition as the Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year in 1995. In 1999 she was named Main Street Executive of the Year by the California Main Streets State Program.
It was also during this time that Silva stepped into the leadership role at the Chamber and for three years she served as the CEO for the Chamber, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Turlock Downtown Association and the Downtown PBID.
During her tenure with the Chamber, Silva has implemented numerous programs to promote business in Turlock, as well as legislature advocacy and helping companies understand and implement human resource rules and regulations. She developed the Turlock Leadership program and recently partnered with Emanuel Medical Center to inform business owners about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In her years as the president and CEO, the Chamber has garnered numerous awards, including seven years straight for the President’s Circle Award from the California Chamber of Commerce. Silva herself has been named one of the Women of the Year in 2015 by the Stanislaus County Women’s Commission. She won the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Business of College for CSUD in 2013 and was Woman of the Year in 2011 for Assemblyman Bill Berryhill’s district.
“When I look at my wall of the accomplishments that this agency in a small town in the Central Valley has done, it is with gratitude that I thank each and every one of you who has served with me over the years to have the vision, desire and trust in your CEO and staff to make the Turlock Chamber one of excellence,” Silva said. “I thank each and every partner that I have worked with from the bottom of my heart. This journey has been one that I feel blessed to have taken. Having the opportunity to work with the succession staff will assist to prepare having a team in place that will make a smooth transition of my departure.”
Her service to Turlock extended beyond the Chamber. She has chaired or served on numerous boards, commissions and committees, including economic development committees for both the city and county, the Turlock Beautification committee, the Turlock City Arts Commission, the Board of Directors for the Turlock Community Theater, the Executive Board for The Alliance, and Director of CSUS Alumni Board, among many others.
She also served for eight years on the Turlock Unified school board, owned and co-owned a phone center and a moving company, and actively worked as a fundraiser for many non-profit organizations.
“I want to thank everyone that I have worked with for their service to this community and economic development efforts to this city,” Silva said. “They are a group of outstanding business leaders and individuals. I have learned much from all and have grown as a person. I want to thank the current Board and all of the Boards before you for the opportunity of managing the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.”