Taking the chamber in a new direction may be a challenge, but President and CEO Cassandra Ersland enjoys seeing progress around her hometown.
After earning her BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Oklahoma in 2006, the Chickasha native moved to Denver for a few years. When she was named chamber president last April, Ersland wanted to incorporate some of those big-city experiences locally.
Between farmers markets, live music and more, living in Denver, “There was always something to do,” she said. “We’re trying to do that here so people will want to stay in our community.”
Community involvement is important to Ersland. Aside from her position with the chamber, she is a member of the Chickasha Rotary Club. She is on the board of directors for the YMCA, helping to raise scholarship funds for the organization’s afterschool and summer programs.
Ersland also serves as the executive director for Chickasha’s Festival of Light, the annual holiday celebration that brings thousands of visitors to the community each year. Although there is a lot of preparation for the event, it is really rewarding, she said. In 2019, FOL incorporated an outdoor ice skating rink which brought close to 13,000 skaters to Shannon Springs Park.
She also served as a board member for the Chickasha Community Foundation, the Chickasha Community Theatre board and volunteered with CASA Voices for Children, the Grady County chapter of court-appointed special advocates who champion for children’s best interests.
Although she is not currently involved with the CASA program, the organization still has a place in her heart. She is still part of the children’s lives from her first case and goes to the kids’ birthday parties and sees them during the holidays. In 2019, CASA volunteers provided services for 78 children in Grady County alone. “There are so many kids who can’t help themselves,” she said. “So that’s always been where my heart is.”
As a part of several Chickasha community programs, she and others are currently looking to initiate a communitywide day of volunteering. The plans are still early in their development, but the goal is to get volunteers to help local organizations with a variety of projects which would, in turn, allow volunteers to learn about the organizations.
“Chickasha is great about stepping up, but there’s still so much we can do,” she said.