Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, the joint chamber of commerce in Carmel and Fishers, announced her retirement Friday after 20 years at the helm of the organization and one of its predecessors.
Merhoff started as executive director of Carmel Chamber of Commerce in 2000. She led the not-for-profit through its merger with Fishers Chamber of Coomerce in 2015. She has since started the joint organization on a path to greater political advocacy.
“I feel like I checked the boxes I made for myself, and now I want to make new ones,” Merhoff said. “I’m ready to say, ‘Here’s what I want to do and where I want to do it and when—and enjoy it.”
Merhoff—who acknowledged she’s beyond the average retirement age but not quite 70—said OneZone wrote a transition plan three years ago to deal with her leaving.
Chief Operating Officer Jack Russell will serve as OneZone’s interim president for the organization, which has more than 1,300 members, as the board launches its search for Merhoff’s replacement in the coming weeks.
Looking ahead, Merhoff said she’s agreed to act as a consultant for the organization as it looks to form a political action committee to better petition for government reform at the state and local levels.
“An election year is not the time to start that, but it is the time to plan it,” Merhoff said.
Merhoff is aware of her departure’s unfortunate timing, as small- and medium-sized businesses start to deal with the impacts of coronavirus-related restrictions.
“If the outcome of this might be more collaborative effort, well, I’m not saying it was worth it, but it helps. That, to me, is a silver lining,” she said.
Prior to her work with the chamber, Merhoff spent 14 years with the United States Rowing Association. She served as the executive director of the 1994 World Rowing championships in Indianapolis.