FARMINGTON — The Farmington Chamber of Commerce on Thursday named Audra Winters, a nonprofit event coordinator with deep local ties, as president and chief executive.

Winters, 40, succeeds Dorothy Nobis, who is stepping down after more than four years leading the chamber. The chamber advocates on behalf of local businesses, promotes programs and events and serves as a source of information about the city and its businesses.

"I'm very excited about this position and I feel honored to have been chosen," Winters said in a phone interview.

Winters previously worked as the special event coordinator for the San Juan Medical Foundation, a charitable organization with links to San Juan Regional Medical Center. In the nearly three years that she worked for the foundation, she organized a number of benefits, including golf tournaments, galas and a cancer walk-a-thon. Prior to joining the foundation, Winters was district sales manager for Avon Products in Farmington for three and a half years.

Winters was raised in Farmington. After graduating from Farmington High, she lived in the Phoenix area for 15 years, according to the foundation's website. There, she earned an associate's degree in apparel merchandising at Mesa Community College.

She has also participated in several local organizations, including Leadership San Juan and Farmington Young Professionals.

"I really care about my community this is where I grew up I want to give back even more," Winters said.

The new chamber leader takes over as the Farmington area faces an uncertain future in the natural gas and coal industries, two pillars of the local economy. The uncertainty has spilled over to the retail sector.

City tax revenue from retail sales fell 1.3 percent in December, indicating a sluggish holiday shopping period.

Farmington also lost an estimated 639 residents from 2010 to 2011.

Interest in oil production has provided a glimmer of hope to the local economy, however. Oil production in northwest New Mexico grew 16.8 percent last year, according to the state's oil conservation division.

"I definitely want to help the chamber grow," Winters said. "That's going to come with time."

Chuck Slothower may be reached at cslothower@daily-times.com; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter @DTChuck