TEMPLE TERRACE - Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy has attended more business breakfast meetings, luncheons and banquets in the past 30 years than she can count.
It is what you do when you are the city's leading advocate for the business community.
Sparks-McGlinchy has served just shy of four years as executive director of the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce. Before that, she was senior associate athletic director at the University of South Florida, where she spent 26 years as a rising administrator in the Bulls athletic department.
"I joined the chamber in the late '80s because of my position at USF," Sparks-McGlinchy said.
The longtime community leader is looking forward to more casual dining with her husband, John McGlinchy, and spending quality time with her active 87-year-old mother in Boca Raton and her three youngest grandchildren in Atlanta.
Sparks-McGlinchy said she will retire from her post on Aug. 30.
"I'm ready to relax a little bit," she said.
Her decision to step down in August is significant for several reasons.
The 530-member chamber will celebrate its 50th anniversary in August. Sparks-McGlinchy plans to recognize the milestone anniversary as part of the organization's annual awards and installation banquet also held that month.
August also marks the completion of her fourth year managing daily operations at the chamber office, 9385 N. 56 St.
Sparks-McGlinchy has received accolades over the years for coordinating numerous civic events, among them, the Business Expo, Taste of the Terrace, the city's annual Fourth of July parade and the fireworks celebration at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club. She was a finalist for the chamber's 2008 Citizen of the Year.
Chamber board members were stunned when they learned the news of Sparks-McGlinchy's pending departure, she said. Several wanted to know if she was unhappy.
"I said, 'Nothing is wrong. I love this job.'" Sparks-McGlinchy said laughing. "I will still be here and remain a member of the chamber."
Chamber President Sara Leutzinger praised Sparks-McGlinchy for her continued support to the area business community. "She has done so much for the chamber," Leutzinger said.
Past chamber president Phil Lentsch, the owner of Office Dynamics, agreed, saying "The job she has done is outstanding."
A resident of Temple Terrace for more than 30 years, Sparks-McGlinchy plans to keep her part-time teaching job at USF, where she instructs incoming freshmen during the fall semester about successful ways to acclimate to college life.
She is a USF graduate, earning a bachelor of arts degree in business management and a master's there.
Sparks-McGlinchy will serve on the committee selected to find her replacement. The panel will review the qualifications of eight applicants being considered for the post, she said.
The chamber hopes to name a new executive director by the time Sparks-McGlinchy leaves the post.