Her last day will be March 22.
She submitted her resignation to the chamber board Wednesday.
Willhide said she is leaving her post to spend more time with her family.
“I’m just going to be taking a little bit of a break. I worked the last 30 years full time in very demanding jobs,” Willhide said. “I’m going to take a little bit of time to just regroup and spend some time with my family.”
Those family members include her husband Michael, her recently married daughter Meagan, son-in-law Chris and her great niece and nephew.
“I’ve just reached a point in my life where I want to live a little more than I have been,” said the Waynesboro native.
Bernie McGarity, vice president of the chamber board, said Willhide’s resignation is a “tremendous loss for the chamber.”
“Carlene was an exceptional detail person and for our four or five major fundraiser events each year she left no detail unturned,” McGarity said.
She is going to be tough to replace, he said.
“She was an exceptional individual. Everybody liked her. She was a great community organizer - totally dedicated to her position,” McGarity said.
Willhide began her career with the chamber in Nov. 2005 as an administrative assistant.
She served in that role for six months until she advanced to a new chamber position, membership manager.
Willhide performed that job for a year and a half before being promoted to executive director in 2007.
While she is eager to spend more time with her family, Willhide said her decision to leave is bittersweet.
“I feel like I’ve done a great job here. You know if you have done a good job or you haven’t, and I feel like I’ve done that. But, I also recognize when you get tired you don’t want anything to suffer as a result of that,” she said.
“After spending seven and a half years (at the chamber), I think it’s time for some new perspective, new ideas - new energy that can continue our mission of the chamber,” Willhide said.
Several members of the chamber board are serving on a search committee to find a new executive director, McGarity said.
The plan is to advertise the job as soon as the week of Feb. 25. Have the responses back to the chamber by March 10 to begin the interviews and fill the position by the end of March.
“It’s going to take somebody with organizational skills, somebody with a leadership background, somebody who knows the Waynesboro community, both business and personal (to be the next executive director),” McGarity said.
“The Waynesboro Chamber has grown immensely under Carlene’s leadership. We’re kind of riding a high tide right now in success in our community through a very tough recession that seems not to be over yet,” he said. “But we seem to be holding our own with membership and with progress we’ve made in the business community.
“We’re just looking forward to getting a new person in place that’s going to continue that momentum into the near and long range future.”