Maureen "Mo" McElroy has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce.

McElroy announced this week she is leaving to pursue her own consulting business.

"I have a contract and I'm excited about it," McElroy said Friday of her first client, the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.

She will be responsible for the launch and management of the bureau's Certified Tourism Ambassador Program.

The nationwide program trains front-line hospitality employees and volunteers to create positive encounters with tourists.

McElroy, who has held the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce job since January 2011, will step down effective July 21.

"We're sorry to see her go," said Bob Fraser, chairman of the Board. "Obviously she established some creative, interesting programs. We're excited about some of the things she's done here."

In Healdsburg, McElroy spearheaded creation of a new Tourism Improvement District funded by local hotel and innkeepers with a $300,000 annual marketing budget.

She worked to revitalize the Downtown Business District. She also launched the Visitors Bureau Advisory Board to create a tourism marketing plan and events, such as the Epicurean Winter promotions and support for a series of "Excellent Service" workshops.

And she oversaw creation of new Chamber office space and an expanded staff in the H2 Hotel building.

Previously, she served for a decade at the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, where she was executive director of the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau.

McElroy was instrumental in bringing the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race to Sonoma County and also assisted professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer in organizing the annual GranFondo tour that attracts thousands of cyclists to the county.

"My thing is being nice to people and being kind and respectful. Those are core values to me," McElroy said. Her first consulting assignment, she said, "is right up my alley to get to train people how to do that and specifically how it relates to our visitors — our lifeline in Sonoma County, our top industry."

McElroy, 56, the mother of three college-age daughters, said she is looking to pursue other passions, including writing, acting and singing.

In her Chamber of Commerce job, she said, "there's no 40-hour week. There's 60-, 80-hour weeks. You don't have a lot of time for pursuing your right-brain, artistic self."

Contact Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 and