For more than 20 years, Gayle Carter has been the face of local industry at the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce headquarters.
“She’s the cheery voice when people call,” said Chamber President Julie Rose. “When they walk in the door, she’s the first person they see.”
Carter, the Chamber’s executive assistant since November 1993, will retire soon to Maui, where she had planned to relocate with her husband, Gary, who passed away a year and a half ago.
“I’m on a new adventure,” Carter said. “I’m not one who does radical, spontaneous things, but I thought at this time in my life, why not do it?”
During her tenure at the Chamber, Carter has needed to stay organized.
She sells memberships, writes articles for the newsletter, manages the offices, helps coordinate events and – as a pet project – hands out dog bones to visiting pooches and passersby.
“This is a neighborhood, and it’s a small community service,” she explained. “By virtue of handing out bones, I’ve met volunteers.”
Working alongside the volunteers has been her favorite aspect of the job. When she makes the move to Maui, she hopes to lend a hand in her new community, possibly with the Pacific Whale Foundation near her condo.
“I’m so close that I can sit with my mai tai and toast them,” she said of the whales.
Still, despite the dreamy ocean views, leaving Los Altos is bittersweet.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been here for 22 years,” she said. “I never thought I would stay anywhere that long.”
Rose added that it will be difficult to transition to a new executive assistant.
“It’d be easier for us to ride off into the sunset together,” she joked. “Her title may have been ‘executive assistant,’ but I don’t tell her what to do. We’ve been a team.”
Over the years, Carter and Rose have coordinated dozens of events and expos – and hundreds of mixers – for the Chamber’s 410 members and the community at large.
“We don’t even have to talk – she knows what I do, I know what she does,” Rose said. “We share the grunt work.”
Carter took on the role when she moved from Southern California to Los Altos. Without previous Chamber experience, she dove in and learned about her new home city and its businesses, guiding newcomers and connecting businesspeople.
“My husband used to say I was the town’s information booth,” she said.
Chamber Board Chairman Scott O’Brien agreed that Carter has “a wealth of knowledge about our Los Altos community.”
“Gayle is hardworking, a pleasure to work with and a big part of the Chamber’s success,” he said. “We are excited for Gayle to start this next chapter in her life – she deserves it.”