• Carbondale Chamber of Commerce

  • Board & Staff

    The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce is led by a 16-member Board of Directors as well as professional staff members. A majority of board members are elected to three-year terms by the general membership. 

  • Elected Members:

  • Darren Berger Darren Berger

    2017 President

    A native of the community, Darren Berger attended Carbondale Community High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He works as a business development specialist for The Bank of Carbondale.  He was elected to the Carbondale Chamber Board of Directors in December 2013.

    Darren is a member of the Chamber’s Saluki Pride Committee, the Chamber's Economic Development Committee and chairs the Membership Committee. He was the recipient of the Chamber's Presidents' Service Award in 2014.

    Darren also volunteers as a member of the board for the Carbondale Boys and Girls Club and for other civic and charitable causes throughout the region.

  • Mel Bower Mel Bower

    President-Elect

    Mel Bower is the corporate director of marketing and communications for Southern Illinois Healthcare. A lifelong resident of Carbondale and graduate of Carbondale Community High School, he completed both his bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and master’s  degree in public relations at Southern Illinois University. Prior to joining SIH he served as the director of marketing for Banterra Bank.

    He is a member of the Chamber's Ambassador Committee, Executive Committee and will serve as the organization's president in 2018.

    Mel and his wife Ellen have one son. The live in Carbondale.

  • Steve Falat Steve Falat

    Steve Falat is the regional vice president for River Radio, overseeing 17 radio stations in Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. He also is the official public address announcer for Southern Illinois University Saluki Athletics and formerly for the Southern Illinois Miners professional baseball team. He frequently serves as master of ceremonies for many university, community and charitable events in the region.

    Steve is a former vice-president of the SIU Alumni Association Executive Board of Directors, was a member of the SIU Alumni Association National Board of Directors, is a current member of the Rotary Club of Carbondale serving as its President in 2008-09. He also was a two-time president of the Saluki Booster Club and was a former member of the SIU College of Business Marketing Department External Advisory Board.

    Steve served as president of the Chamber for 2014-2015.

  • Christopher Swims Christopher Swims

    Pastor Christopher Swims has served as senior pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church since 2010.  In additional to his role with the Chamber, he is active in a number of civic, professional and religious organizations.

    Christopher holds a bachelor's degree in interpersonal communication from Southern Illinois University. He lives in Carbondale with his wife Brittany and daughter Carrington.

  • Melissa Lewis Melissa Lewis

    Past President

    Melissa is a financial advisor with the Murray-Patterson Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC in Carbondale. She and her husband, Jarred Lewis, reside in Carterville and have five children together ranging in age from twin 5-year-olds to the sixth grade. 

    Melissa is a graduate of  Illinois Benedictine University and she earned a branch manager’s certification from the Illinois Bankers Association in 2007.

    In addition to serving as president, Melissa is a member of the Chamber’s Ambassadors Committee, serves on the organization's Membership Committee and was the 2012 recipient of the organization’s Young Professional of the Year award.

  • Marcia Sinnott Marcia Sinnott

    Marcia Beth Sinnott is a realtor at Five Star Realty. She previously was an elementary teacher for Carbondale Elementary, where she served two terms as president of the Carbondale Education Association. Marcia earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University.

    Marcia has served on a variety of committee chairmanships with the Egyptian Board of Realtors and Illinois Association of Realtors. She was awarded Egyptian Board of Realtors - Realtor Associate of the Year in 1983. Marcia also is the charter president of Friends of the Carbondale Public Library. She is also a charter member of the Rotary Club of Carbondale-Breakfast.

    She is a member of the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee and received the organization’s Presidents’ Service Award in 2015. 

  • Justin Zurlinden Justin Zurlinden

    Justin is a Realtor with RE/MAX Realty Professionals in Carbondale.  A graduate of the School of Architecture at Southern Illinois University, he lives in the Tatum Heights neighborhood in Carbondale with his wife, Emily, and their foster children. 

    After graduating from SIU in 2011, Justin opened Vintage Soul Furniture, a furniture resale shop that funded a local non-profit organization working with homeless people and underprivileged children locally and globally.  After three years of running his business, he transitioned from selling couches to houses.  He currently specializes in first-time homebuyer programs, estates, and senior relocation.

    Justin is also a member of the Preservation Commission for the City of Carbondale, which serves to protect architectural gems in Carbondale and empower people to restore and memorialize important places, people, and events in our community.

  • Jim Jacobs Jim Jacobs

    Jim is the owner of Jacobs Air Conditioning and Heating. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Jim and his family relocated to Carbondale from South Florida in 1993.

    Jim serves on the Chamber’s Ambassadors Committee and also is a member of the Better Business Bureau, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Building Performance Institute.

    Jim and his wife Deann live in rural Carbondale and have five children.

  • Ronda Gaertner Ronda Gaertner

    Treasurer

    Having worked in public accounting for two decades, Ronda is a partner in the accounting firm of Payne, Gaertner and Associates LLC, and has served as the Chamber’s treasurer since 2012.

    She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southern Illinois University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

    In addition to her service to the Chamber, Ronda also has been a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale's board of directors (where she served on the finance committee and was treasurer) and has  been a member of the Carbondale High School Booster Club board of directors as well as a member of the Carbondale Rotary Club.

  • Mike Henry Mike Henry

    Mike Henry is the owner of Henry Printing and is currently in his first term as mayor of the City of Carbondale.

    Mike is married to Terri Walters Henry, an area real estate agent. He has three sons and two daughters, with eight grandchildren. He graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.  While a student at SIU, he opened a typing and copying business in 1972. That business has grown into what is now Henry Printing.  The company provides both offset and digital printing, mailing operations, desktop publishing, graphic design and other ancillary services to businesses, organizations and individuals throughout Southern Illinois.

    He served as president of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce in 1984 and has been a member of the city’s Planning Commission, Citizens Advisory Board and Downtown Steering Committee. Ca

  • Shane Carsrud Shane Carsrud

    Shane is a Commercial Officer at Banterra Bank. He is a graduate of Carbondale Community High School, holds a bachelor’s of economics from Southern Illinois University, and a master’s in Business Administration from Webster University.

    Shane is also a member of the Rotary Club of Carbondale-Breakfast, finance chair of Our Savior Lutheran in Carbondale, treasurer of Carbondale Tourism, and a member of Carbondale’s Community Development and Loan Grant Board. He’s previously been involved with several other community organization and is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Carbondale.

    Shane and his wife Jessica reside in Carterville with their two children.   

  • Brad Weiss Brad Weiss

    Brad is the owner of The Furniture King, the area’s largest full-line furniture store. He started the region’s first waterbed shop in 1975 while he was a student at Southern Illinois University.

    While running his own business, Brad earned a bachelor’s degree and an Master's of Business Administration from SIU. He expanded the business, re-branding as Brad the Bed King and then later, expanding again and re-naming the business as Brad the Furniture King.

    He has served on the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee and Saluki Pride Committees. Currently he is a member of the Membership Committee and chairs the Government Affairs Committee. He was honored as the Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year in 2013.

  • Appointed Members:

  • Gary Williams Gary Williams

    City Manager

    Gary was named City Manager in 2016 following several years of service as the city's Economic Development Coordinator and a brief stint as interim city manager. He was appointed to the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors by Mayor Mike Henry. Prior to his service as Interim City Manager, Gary was economic development coordinator for the city.

    He holds a bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Public Administration both from Southern Illinois University. He also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Neighborhood Coop board and other civic organizations.

    Gary serves on the Chamber’s Economic Developments and serves as co-host of “Talk of the Town,” a weekly talk radio program produced by the City and Chamber on WDBX-FM. He was appointed to the Chamber board by Carbondale Mayor Henry.

  • Brad Colwell Brad Colwell

    Interim Chancellor, Southern Illinois University

    Brad was named interim chancellor on Oct. 1, 2015, returning to SIU after five years as dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He first joined the SIU faculty in 2001.

    A native of Bluford, Ill., Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Anderson University in Indiana and a master’s degree in educational administration, a juris doctor (law) degree and a doctoral degree in educational administration, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana -hampaign.

    He serves as the University's official representative on the Chamber board.

  • Daniel Booth Daniel Booth

    Principal, Carbondale Community High School

    Daniel Booth has served as principal of CCHS since 2011, following terms as assistant principal, dean of students and a health education/driver’s education teacher.   He received his undergraduate degree in health education, and a master’s in educational administration, both from Southern Illinois University.

    Daniel serves on the Chamber board representing elementary and secondary education and was appointed to the board by Carbondale Community High School District No. 165 Superintendent Steve Murphy.

    He resides in Carbondale with his wife Ashley and their two children.

  • Chamber Staff:

  • Les O’Dell Les O’Dell

    Executive Director

    Les joined the Chamber staff in February 2013, bringing with him a nearly two decades of involvement in the Carbondale business community. The holder of three degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he is known to many as a freelance journalist and humor columnist.

    Les and his wife Christine live in rural Carbondale. They have four children and one foster son.  The eldest two are both fourth-generation Salukis.


    Email Les here.

  • Lindsey Perry Lindsey Perry

    Graphic Design Intern

    Lindsey is a senior at Southern Illinois University majoring in Communication Design. She is responsible for print and digital design for all Chamber programs and events. A native of Southern Illinois, Lindsey and her husband Logan live in Herrin.

  • Ashley Bullock Ashley Bullock

    Assistant Director

    Ashley joined the Chamber staff in May 2013 and was named Assistant Director in October 2015.  She  graduated from the Southern Illinois University College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing.  Prior to joining the Chamber, she worked in marketing and client services for an area architectural firm.

     Ashley lives with her husband Matthew in Carbondale and enjoys helping local businesses to thrive in the spotlight.

    Email Ashley here.   

  • Elizabeth Lewis Elizabeth Lewis

    Special Events/Social Media Intern

    Elizabeth is a senior in Agricultural Communications at Southern Illinois University. Originally from Boonville, Ind., she is a member of the Agricultural Student Council, Agbassadors, Agronomy Society and is a senator representing the College of Agricultural Sciences to Undergraduate Student Government.

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