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 Board Service
  • 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

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

NOTE:  No more than two currently serving CEOs may receive Life Member designation in the same year.

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 by February 1, 2017. 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.


2016 Life Members Announced!

Jack Hornbeck, CCE

In September 2013, following 25 years of service, Jack Hornbeck retired as chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. A 40-year chamber of commerce professional and U.S. Air Force veteran, Jack also served chambers in Middletown, New York; East Hartford, Connecticut; Pensacola, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

During Jack’s tenure at Hampton Roads, he also served as chairman or president of four chamber subsidiary organizations including the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, ChamberSolutions, the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, and the Hampton Roads Chamber Foundation. He was a member of the executive committee of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, a regional economic marketing program created by the chamber in 1999, and a member of the executive committee of Opportunity, Inc., Hampton Roads’ workforce development initiative that was co-created by the chamber.

Jack was active within ACCE, having served as a board member, vice-chair, and treasurer of the association and chaired ACCE’s Benefits Trust. Jack was also chair of ACCE’s Metro Cities Council. In 1987, he earned his Certified Chamber Executive designation and in 2007 was presented with the ACCE Chairman’s Professional Leadership Award.

Closer to home, Hornbeck is a past president of the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (VACCE) and the Southern Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. VACCE honored Hornbeck with its Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chamber Executive of the Year Award.

Jack is a 1979 graduate of the Institute for Organization Management (IOM) at the University of Delaware and he served as chair of the IOM’s program at the University of Georgia.

View award video from #ACCE2016 


David L. McKeehan, CCE

David McKeehan served as president and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce since its inception in 1984 until he retired in January 2015. Previously, he was vice president of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

David served as a trustee and chairman (2011-2012) of ACCE Benefits Trust; chairman of ACCE’s Fringe Benefits, Inc.; and vice chair of ACCE’s board of directors. He is past president of both the New England Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives (1998-99) and the Massachusetts Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives (1998). In 2001 and 2007, he was recognized by ACCE with the Chairman’s Professional Leadership Award.

David remains active as a trustee of the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and serves as chairman of their grant making committee. In 2007, he was presented with the “Service Above Self Award” by Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) for making significant contributions to MWCC and the area’s 29 north central Massachusetts cities and towns. David was also recognized by Fitchburg State University as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Last 100 Years” at their Centennial Celebration in 1994.

David is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. In 2008, he was chosen as a Ford Foundation Fellow for Sustainable Regional Development.

Today, after 45 years’ experience in chamber of commerce management, David now appreciates the challenges and opportunities of owning and operating a small manufacturing and distribution company, GB Products. 

View award video from #ACCE2016


Harvey Schmitt, CCE

Following 43 years in the chamber profession, with leadership stints at Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce (Iowa), Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce (Fla.), Greenville Chamber of Commerce (S.C.), and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (Fla.), Harvey Schmitt concluded his career at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in 2015, where he had served as president since 1994.

During his tenure with the Greater Raleigh Chamber, the organization’s budget tripled and Raleigh experienced tremendous growth. Harvey played a leadership role in coalescing support for constructing the PNC Center, recruiting the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, building the Raleigh Convention Center and launching the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, and the Regional Transportation Alliance. He also served on the board of directors for numerous organizations, including the Wake Education Partnership, United Way of the Greater Triangle, and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, Harvey had a deep commitment to the chamber profession; he was very active in chamber organizations at the state and national level. He is a former member of the board of directors for the Southern Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Florida Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and former president of both the Iowa Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and South Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. He served as chairman of the board of ACCE in 1995-96, was a past member and former chairman of the ACCE Trustees (1996–2004), and was a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

Harvey’s dedication, tireless efforts and leadership successes won him much recognition. He received the ACCE Chairman's Leadership Award in 1987 and that same year was also named Executive of the Year by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Executives. More recently, Harvey received an honorary doctorate of business from William Peace University (2012); was honored with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance Distinguished Leadership Award (2014); and in 2015 was presented with the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest citizen recognition and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He is currently a trustee for St. Augustine’s University, and is a board member of the 200 Club of Wake County and the Carolina Hurricanes Kids N’ Community Foundation. He also serves on the board of directors for Paragon Bank, a publicly traded company, and is providing a variety of consulting services to local businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

View award video from #ACCE2016


Casey Steinbacher, CCE

Casey Steinbacher, a 27-year veteran of chamber and economic development work, served as president and CEO of chambers in Pennsylvania, Florida, and, most recently, North Carolina, where she filled the lead role for the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to 2015. Under her direction, the Durham Chamber received national and international acclaim for its leadership in economic and entrepreneurial development, winning the award for the Best Innovative Economic Development Project at the World Chambers Congress in Doha, Qatar, in 2013. Durham experienced over $5 billion in announced new investment that created more than 20,000 jobs during her tenure, including the birth and rapid growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is now considered one of the most vibrant in the South.

She sits on numerous boards but most notably serves on the Community Growth Educational Foundation, a foundation created to help chambers throughout the U.S. and Canada strengthen their expertise and engagement in community and economic development initiatives in their communities.

Today, as founder of Casey’s Company, Steinbacher is widely recognized as a national expert in urban innovation strategies. Her company identifies and creates NEXT opportunities for communities and organizations, with a unique emphasis on place-based talent recruitment.  She is credited with authoring the strategy that targeted entrepreneurs and millennials as key components for the place-based renaissance of downtown Durham that CNN recently named “the start-up capital of the south.” Her clients include several communities, a technology festival, a sports foundation, and a world-renowned Entrepreneurial Hub… to name a few.

View award video from #ACCE2016

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