Carla Howell, executive director of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, has announced she will retire as of May 31.

A search is underway for her replacement, the organization reported March 26.

Howell, a Healdsburg resident for more than 40 years, spent seven years as executive director of the chamber, where her accomplishments included spearheading a rebranding and a redesign of membership rosters.

Over the course of her career, the former three-term mayor of Healdsburg also served on the Healdsburg Planning Commission and the Healdsburg City Council. She also led the chambers of commerce in Cloverdale and Rohnert Park before joining the Healdsburg chamber.

Howell also knows firsthand what it takes to run a small business, having owned a retail shop for 28 years in downtown Healdsburg.

“Carla has given so much to this community — and, really, to all of Sonoma County — with her work on behalf of our business community and the city of Healdsburg,” said Alan Baker, the chamber’s current board chair and winemaker at Cartograph Wines in Healdsburg. “We are richer for her hard work.”

“Carla’s business knowledge and gracious leadership skills will be missed by everyone in Healdsburg,” said Eric Markson, previous board chair and regional sales manager at Dry Creek Inn in Healdsburg. “She is a mentor, a class act and a friend. I wish her the very best on the next chapter in the book of life.”

In retirement, Howell said she looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and working her garden. She also plans to do some volunteering in the future.

“Healdsburg has been a big part of my life for the past 45 years,” Howell said. “It was a great place to raise my children, to own a business and finish my career. I owe it a lot.”