NARI CEO Christine Melendes left the organization last week to pursue other opportunities, said NARI President Chris Egner, who leads the organization’s board of directors and is a remodeler from Milwaukee. He said the association has engaged an outside search firm to seek candidates for the job. Melendes’ decision came as a surprise to many in the industry. She had only been on the job for eight months following a six-month search by NARI.
Melendes, who is an experienced association management professional, joined NARI on July 18, 2022. She was chosen from among a group of 20 finalists for the job, a NARI release at the time said.
In an interview with Qualified Remodeler, Egner said that Melendes’ decision to pursue other opportunities is not something that should be seen as detracting from the many positive factors now in place at NARI. He cited good engagement and communication with its chapters and members, as well as the strength of many of the organizations flagship programs: education and certification, awards, and industry research.
Egner also drew a clear distinction between Melendes’ departure from NARI with the departures of two prior CEOs for the organization. Fred Ulreich served for several years as CEO until 2018. His interim replacement David Pekel was later awarded the position after a months-long search. Pekel left NARI in November of 2021. Egner said, unlike the case with Melendes, those prior exits were situations where “the organization, for whatever reason, felt it needed to move in another direction.”
“As a personnel matter, all I can say at this point is that she chose to pursue other opportunities,” said Egner. “But what I can tell you is that NARI is in great shape. We’ve added a lot of great people over the last year, and other than the now-vacant CEO position, we are fully staffed up. We are also in a great position with our chapters. The relations between our chapters and the national organization is better than I’ve ever seen it. We have monthly chapter executive calls that are much better attended and much more positive than they have been in the past. So, from that standpoint, we’re in the same position as if someone at your company left and you must hire a replacement, that is where we are right now.”
Chief operating officer Elsie Iturralde will serve as interim CEO during a search for Melendes’ replacement. Qualified Remodeler called Melendes for comment and she declined the opportunity. QR