Life Member Awards

Historically called “Honorary Member,” this pinnacle award is bestowed by ACCE on those who retire after stellar careers in chamber leadership. The present “Life Member” name recognizes both the lifetime of success in the chamber profession as well as the member-for-life status granted to each honoree.

Life Member designees are honored during the ACCE annual convention's awards ceremony.

Criteria for Consideration: 

1.  Successful Chamber

    • Shown measurable success in building their communities and organizations

2.  Mentorship

    • Willingly mentored their own staff members and others who sought guidance to grow in the profession

3.  Prominent Role in Leading/Advancing the Profession

    • Made a significant contribution to the profession:  ACCE participation and leadership, U.S. Chamber institutes and programs, State Regional Association Officer, etc.

Factors Influencing Selection:

  • CCE
  • 5-Star Accreditation
  • Chairmanship of state/regional chamber execs’ association
  • ACCE Involvement
  • IOM Board of Governors Service
  • “Seconding” or supporting letters/testimony/recommendations

Requirements & Eligiblity:

The Candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in Good Standing of ACCE

  • All CEOs retired from the chamber profession with 12 or more years of service may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO in the chamber profession, candidates must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
  • Non-CEO members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 12 years of service.

Nomination Process:

  • A nomination letter that includes appropriate information about the nominee must be addressed to the ACCE Life Member Committee c/o ACCE, 1330 Braddock Place, Ste 300, Alexandria, VA 22314 or emailed to by March 1, 2022. In addition to evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated.
  • Late submissions, as well as those nominated in a prior award cycle, will be re-submitted for consideration in the subsequent year(s).  Re-nomination is not required. 
  • Notice of acceptance (winning), rejection (unlikely to receive Life Member status at any time), and tabling (under consideration in the future) will not be provided to nominators prior to the announcement of Life Member awards. For this reason, it is recommended that nominators do not alert candidates at the time of nomination.
  • Life Member designees and the primary nominating party will be notified at least six weeks prior to the date of the awards ceremony.


2020 Life Members 

ACCE celebrates the work of this year's honorees and their enduring influence and lifetime of service to the chamber profession. 

David Adkisson, CCE

David Adkisson, CCE, retired from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in October 2019 after 15 years as president and CEO. During his tenure, the chamber was named the 2017 State Chamber of the Year by the Council of State Chambers, tripled its chamber and foundation budgets to more than $10 million and doubled its staff to 43. In addition to several landmark legislative victories for the business community, he championed the creation of the award-winning Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and the Institute for School Principals, a program which has invested more than $3 million in executive leadership training for school principals.

During his career, David headed three chambers: his hometown chamber in Owensboro, Kentucky; the metro Birmingham Regional Chamber in Alabama and the Kentucky Chamber. In addition, he served as the 2010 chairman of ACCE, the 2014 chairman of the Council of State Chambers (COSC). He was a founder of the national State Chamber Policy Center, served on the board of the U. S. Chamber for six years and served as the chairman of the U.S. Chamber’s education policy committee for three years. Together, he spent more than 30 years in the chamber field.

He was elected mayor of Owensboro, Kentucky, at age 34 and re-elected four years later without opposition. He championed the creation of the RiverPark (performing arts) Center on the Owensboro riverfront, a new four-lane bridge across the Ohio River to connect his community to I-64 and the creation of the 13-mile Greenbelt Park which was later renamed in his honor.

Originally from Owensboro, David received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College where he currently serves as the chairman of the board of trustees, and his master’s degree in ethics from Harvard University. He was the 2019 recipient of Leadership Kentucky’s “Flame of Excellence” award. He is currently finalizing a book about managing chambers tentatively titled “Chess vs. Horseshoes: Reflections on a Career in Chamber of Commerce Management”.



Betty Nokes Capestany, IOM

Betty Nokes Capestany has made a career focused on building communities with the knowledge that successful, supported businesses help a community thrive. Betty’s work has showcased a deep understanding of how a community functions - its synergies, its quirks, its strengths – and leveraging those to the advantage of the businesses she serves. Betty thrives on pushing the envelope, being the first to try out a new technology brings her joy and has her quickly thinking of ways it could be applied to the advancement of business.

The chamber field provided Betty the perfect opportunity to apply her unique strengths and outlook, she just didn’t know it at first. It was Betty’s grandmother who started her down this path as an attempt to prevent her from having a career in social work. She knew Betty had a heart to serve and suggested helping businesspeople as the way to make a difference. This, coincidently, collided with her first job out of college. The chairman of the local chamber worked in the same office and turned her name in for a chamber opening. The rest, as they say, is history. Her career has spanned 29 years and three chambers in Kent, Renton, and Bellevue, Washington. Betty attributes much of her success to her chamber cohorts across the country, who have inspired her on the journey.

Betty earned her IOM from Stanford (1991). She has served on numerous local, state and national boards, the pinnacle serving as chair of ACCE (2013-2014). Betty has also applied her talents to serving on the ACCE board of trustees for Benefits Trust; the U.S. Chamber Committee of 100, is a W.A.C.E. past board and executive committee member and has served on numerous community boards and commissions. She has been a Rotarian for more than 30 years and is a Paul Harris Fellow.

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